I've spent some time the last few days working out my own list, and here it is. It's independent of salary cap considerations, but if nothing else these will be players to know about when next season starts.
I've broken my list down by position, starting at the back.
GK Pat Onstad, Houston Dynamo
As I noted on Monday, Onstad would be my top overall pick in the draft. He's been the best goalkeeper in MLS over the last few years and even though he's 40, goalkeepers can play for much longer than outfield players. Even if the Union get only two years from Onstad, I think he's worth it.
D Gonzalo Segares, Chicago Fire
The Costa Rican international has been one of Chicago's best players over the last few years, and can do quite a bit more with the ball than just clear it out of the box.
D James Riley, Seattle Sounders
I get that the Sounders picked him up in last year's Expansion Draft, and made him available to be taken by someone else a year later. But he started 27 of the 28 games he played in this season, and committed a total of 24 fouls in over 2,300 minutes on the field. He also contributed four assists.
D/M Robbie Russell, Real Salt Lake
Played as a center back, right back and center midfielder for this season's champions - and struck the winning penalty kick in the MLS Cup Final shootout. Played in Denmark, Norway and Iceland after college and before coming back to the U.S in 2008.
D/M Marcelo Saragosa, Chivas USA
Taken for the opposite reason from Saragosa. Devon McTavish may be more versatile, but I'll take Jacobson's better attacking skills in this slot.
M Bobby Convey, San Jose Earthquakes
Okay, I'll admit it: I don't think the Philadelphia native is nearly as good as he was at Reading or even at D.C. United five years ago, when he was so full of energy and promise. Can it really have been that long since I first interviewed him? I guess so. And I guess that if anyone can put Convey in the right place on the field to get the best out of whatever he's got left, it's Peter Nowak.
M Chris Klein, Los Angeles Galaxy
A veteran who can score and set up goals. Has 22 caps for the U.S. National team, and is one of the nicest people in the league. Would be a good leader on this team.
F Alejandro Moreno, Columbus Crew
Another veteran attacker. He's been all over the league in 200 career games and has played for the Venezuelan national team. He scored four goals in 22 games this season.
F Pat Noonan, Colorado Rapids
Somewhat injury-prone, but when he's healthy he can score a lot of goals. He won a championship with Columbus in 2008 and has 14 caps with the U.S.
Again, my list is totally independent of salary cap considerations. I suspect that if I had to do the cap math, it would be different, because a lot of these guys have big contracts. But they're also talented players.
There's one big caveat to all of this. It is possible that Houston's Ricardo Clark won't find a suitable club in Europe. I can't imagine that the Dynamo would have made him available if they weren't sure he was gone from the league, but Clark did tell the team that he wasn't going back there after his contract expired.
The question is: Should the Union gamble on picking Clark and try to convince him to stay? I could see Clark beign worth a Designated Player slot, especially if (as has been rumored, though shot down) more DP slots are introduced for next season.