SOUL LOSE ONE IN HISTORIC EXPANSION DRAFT
- Updated: December 22, 2013
CHICAGO- Nearing the final month of the Arena Football Leagues off season the league held an expansion draft yesterday afternoon to help two west coast expansion teams, the LA KISS (yes the rock band KISS has an Arena Football team) and the Portland Thunder get veteran players. This draft was completely different than an NFL draft in which rookies are selected. In the AFL draft yesterday more than 60 players were available to Portland and LA, to be eligible to be drafted you had to finish the 2013 season on a team’s active roster. After a player was selected from a team that team had the chance to protect one player from being drafted, and after two were drafted the team could protect their whole roster. LA and Portland could not select two players from the same team in a row. Teams prior to the draft were allowed to protect a certain amount of players but the number was never released officially by the league but the rumored number is 17.
The Philadelphia Soul only dropped one from the draft losing rookie offensive lineman Sioeli Fakalata to the Portland Thunder in the 7th round of the draft. After Sioeli was drafted the Soul protected Calvin Fance DL. Sioeli joins a Portland team with former Eagles offensive guard Max Jean Gillies. Fakalata an alumni of New Mexico State joined the Arena football league last year for his first year of professional experience. The 6’3 340 pound 25 year old only got action in one game with the Soul dealing with a knee injury most of the season. Fully healthy and one of two lineman with at least AFL training camp experience, not to mention the weeks where he was healthy, practicing and active is a fantastic addition for Portland and a tough loss for Philly. Moving on past Sioeli the Soul currently have three offensive lineman signed to a contract next year. Returning for his 3rd year, 1st team all arena lineman Christian Johnson will play his final year of his two year deal signed last off season. TE Jason Jones will return for his 2nd year after signing a new one year deal in October. The third and final offensive lineman is Neal Tivis who the soul selected in the first draft of the off season in which Utah Blaze and Chicago Rush players were put in a draft pool and selected after the teams folded. The major question for the Soul this off season on the offensive line is center Brennan Carvalho now that Sioeli is out of our hands. Carvalho another 1st team all arena player is still a free agent.
For Portland the addition of Fakalata only improves there already star lineup. Portland has Oregon alumni Darron Thomas playing quarterback and Jean Gillies a well-respected offensive lineman on their roster. The team has nearly 24 thousand likes on FaceBook, and with no other major summer markets Portland looks like a team we could see in this league for a while. But for now they will focuses on their team 2014 and there new franchise. The Thunder had an open tryout this past Thursday which drew in a crowd and are likely announcing their logo in the near future.
Some of the players who played with Sioeli in Philadelphia this past season talked to me about the loss of Fakalata. Defensive lineman Dustin Barno said “He was a good guy. He seemed very trustworthy, very strong on the field and in the weight room, very athletic.” Linebacker Joe Goosby said “I wish him the best he was a great player/friend. …that’s the ugly side of the business part but I wish him the best.” General Manager Tom Goodhines said “Expansion drafts are always tough because you never like to lose anybody. Portland got a good player and even a nicer guy. We wish him well.” Sioeli himself had this to say about being drafted to Portland “It’s a boat of mixed emotions because I would have loved to come back and play for Philadelphia in the 2014 season but at the same time it is an honor to be drafted and wanted by another team. I enjoyed my time in Philadelphia and have a high respect for their franchise. I hope to make an impact in Portland and help bring a winning attitude to their team.”