Any concerns over losing a portion of the Chicago Fire's roster were put to rest as the Montreal Impact made 10 selections outside of the Fire's unprotected player pool during Wednesday's MLS Expansion Draft.
Former Fire midfielder and Impact head coach Jesse Marsch inherits a franchise that selected former Houston Dynamo forward Brian Ching with the top pick in the draft. Despite reports that Ching said he would retire if selected in the expansion draft, the Impact took him No. 1 anyway.
The Impact's third selection was former Fire midfielder Justin Mapp out of the Philadelphia Union. Mapp started in 24 of 29 games this past season, tallying three goals and four assists.
Chicago entered the expansion draft with a trio of defenders who had nine or more starts during the 2011 season -- right back Dan Gargan and center backs Josip Mikulic and Yamith Cuesta. But the Impact focused elsewhere and the Fire's roster stays intact heading into the offseason.
Last year the Fire lost midfielders John Thorrington and Peter Lowry in the expansion draft to the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers, respectively. They played a combined 14 games and did not log a goal or an assist during the 2011 season.
The Impact brings the league to 19 franchises for the 2012 campaign. On Wednesday, Montreal selected seven-year veteran defender/midfielder James Riley with its ninth pick, but then traded Riley to Chivas USA for forward Justin Braun and midfielder Gerson Mayen. The Impact took 20-year-old Chivas defender and 2011 first-round draft pick Zarek Valentin with its second selection in the expansion draft.
Impact's 2011 MLS Expansion Draft selections: 1. Brian Ching (F, Houston Dynamo); 2. Zarek Valentin (D, Chivas USA); 3. Justin Mapp (M, Philadelphia Union); 4. Bobby Burling (D, San Jose Earthquakes); 5. Jeb Brovsky (M, Vancouver Whitecaps); 6. Collen Warner (M, Real Salt Lake); 7. Josh Gardner (D, Columbus Crew); 8. Sanna Nyassi (M, Colorado Rapids); 9. James Riley* (D, Seattle Sounders); 10. Seth Sinovic (D, Sporting Kansas City)
* Traded to Chivas USA for Justin Braun and Gerson Mayen