Sounders FC

Sounders don’t designate Nkufo for draft protection

Designated player Blaise Nkufo and starters Patrick Ianni, Nate Sturgis, Sanna Nyassi and Leo Gonzalez were not included on the Sounders FC protected list Monday and therefore could be lost in the MLS expansion draft Wednesday.

The 11 players the Sounders protected are Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez, Mike Fucito, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Nate Jaqua, Kasey Keller, Fredy Montero, Jeff Parke, James Riley and Steve Zakuani.

“This process is always going to be excruciating,” general manager Adrian Hanauer said via the Sounders website. “The silver lining is that we have a core group from which it is very difficult for us to make our decisions. We legitimately had well over 11 players that we wanted to protect. ... We’ll take our lumps on Wednesday and move on.”

If a Sounder is selected by either the Portland Timbers or Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle is allowed to add a player to the protected list. Then the other players become available again. No more than two players can be lost.

Nkufo became the club’s second designated player March 4. He appeared in 16 games, recording five goals and one assist. Gonzalez has been a starting defender for two seasons, and Nyassi, Ianni and Sturgis all became regular starters this season.

Julien Baudet and Danny Earls were exposed on the same day they joined the club, coming from Colorado in exchange for Sounders veteran defender Pete Vagenas.

Baudet, a 31-year-old Frenchman, made 28 regular season appearances with 23 starts for the Rapids over two seasons. He played the 30 minutes of extra time Sunday in Colorado’s MLS Cup win over Dallas. He played in France and England before moving to MLS midway through the 2009 season.

Earls, 21, started 15 games in his just-completed rookie season. The Ireland native joined the USL Rochester Rhinos in 2008.

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