2012 MLS SuperDraft superficial analysis
The MLS SuperDraft is, perhaps, the most fascinating draft in American professional sports. It is not because it is the best players in the country are entering it, otherwise Marco Pelosi would be the top pick this year, it is because we are hearing names that will either become etched in American soccer lore (Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Fredy Adu, Brek Shea, et al) or will never become anything more than hysterical side notes (Bakary Soumaré, Pat Phelan, Mehdi Ballouchy, et al).
The thing I love about the video (found above) produced by MLS, is that at one point it asks the question, “is this the culmination of a life-long dream, or is it just the beginning?” Will the player play forever in MLS, or will he end up in a top flight, top four, league?
So with all these thoughts in mind, and my iPad and laptop out, I begin journalling my thoughts on the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
11: 41 We are nineteen minutes out from the draft and Ives Galarcep tweets out that Kenny Cooper has been traded to Red Bulls New York for a first round draft pick in 2013.
I like Cooper. I think he’s a solid player. But that gives New York a very heavy front four. Thierry Henry, Luke Rodgers, Juan Agudelo, and now Kenny Cooper make up a front line that could be impressive…if they ever received the ball from the midfield. I’m assuming something else is brewing in New York, hopefully it is a trade that sends Agudelo to a better more stable franchise. Perhaps, this will indeed be a super draft.
Adrien Healey brings us in over an image of Livestrong Sporting Park, letting all uninitiated viewers know that soccer has rejuvenated Kansas City. Then the ESPN cameras zoom over the skyline of Kansas City. Problem is Livestrong is in Kansas City, KS and the skyline is Kansas City, MO. And people wonder why we don’t want British announcers.
12:06: Alexi Lalas has, for about a week now on several podcasts, been informing us that “speed is catnip to coaches.” It is especially true in MLS that people love fast players, but we are at a point where there needs to be some semblance of technical ability.
This leads us into the Andrew Wenger or Darren Mattocks as the top choice talk. Personally speaking Wenger is a better technical player. He made the right decision not going to the combine, as he has nothing to prove. Mattocks could be a good pick, but Wenger will be able to be plugged in almost immediately.
1. Montreal Impact select Andrew Wenger, F/DF/MF, Duke University
Commissioner Don Garber comes out and attempts to make the announcement in French. I don’t speak French, but I know this was very broken French. Very wise of Montreal not to take the “catnip” of speed.
One of the biggest problems in American soccer is that the top players have no position. Players in other countries have one position from the time they are 16 and become a master of that position. Like Perry Kitchen last year, Wenger can virtually play any position outside of goalkeepers. I hope Montreal uses him as a CB, as that is probably his top position.
12:09: Adrien Healey says, “Lots of Canadian teams picking up front. Montreal, Vancouver, New England, and Toronto.” Did I miss New England getting relegated into Canada?
12:10: Taylor Twellman mentions, in reference to the Kenny Cooper trade, that the New York does not like the draft. To me, this is pretty obvious you can’t overpay draft picks and NY loves to overpay players.
2. Vancouver Whitecaps select Darren Mattocks, FW, Akron
Mattocks is the obvious choice here. Plus his speed is apparently like “catnip.” Too bad he’s going to a team that is stacked with offensive fire power. He’s going to end up coming off the bench, or if we can get our stuff together, loaned out to an NASL or USL side.
12:15: Andrew Wenger joins the talking heads at the table, and boy does he look awkward sitting in his ill-fitting Montreal kit.
Something the NBA Draft does well is interview each player after he is drafted, at least in the first round. I honestly hope that Twellman, Lalas, and Healey can do during the course of the draft.
3. New England Revolution select Kelyn Rowe, MF, University of California-Los Angeles
Don Garber is a tease. He got up to the stage. He said “Generation Adidas.” He said “University of California-Los Angeles.” But then he said Kelyn Rowe and not Chandler Hoffman. I actually wrote down Chandler Hoffman before the Don got Rowe’s name out of his mouth. I guess Benny Feilhaber turned out so well for New England that they decided to pick a player who does pretty much the same thing as opposed to a proven goal scorer who could make him look good. He might not be the “American Chicharito” that Simon Borg calls him, but someone just got a steal.
4. Toronto FC selects Luis Silva, MF, University of California-Santa Barbara
This makes sense. Could be a potentially great fit for Aron Winters’ system.
So, Chivas USA is on the board. The team traded Justin Braun over the summer and could use a big striker. They also mentioned last year that they wanted to base their team around Southern California guys. Despite Hoffman actually being from Alabama, could he fit for them in that role since he went to UCLA? Or maybe they want to wildly reach for Gienir Garcia to fit in with the whole Mexican thing they said they were doing before that.
5. Chivas USA selects Casey Townsend, FW, University of Maryland
Wow. Casey Townsend before Chandler Hoffman? I really wish that ESPN had a camera on Hoffman’s table. Some of the most memorable draft moments ever have been seeing the tables of passed over players. Does anyone else remember watching Brady Quinn tumble in the 2007 NFL Draft class? What about watching Gilbert Arenas slip to the second round of the 2001 NBA Draft class? I want an ESPN shot of the Hoffman table…stat!
6. San Jose Earthquakes select Sam Garza, FW, University of California-Santa Barbara
Garber did it again. Step to the podium again, said “Generation Adidas”, said “University of California…” and I wrote down Hoffman, before he could get out “of Santa Barbara.” Yet another FW off the board before Hoffman
12:32: Adrien Healey just said that “Garza is preparing for life in the Bay State,” luckily he catches himself upon realizing that San Jose is not in Massachusetts. And people wonder why we want ‘Mericans announcers!
7. DC United selects Nick De Leon, MF, University of Maryland
Umm….okay. First off the guy was arrested for marijuana possession last year. Second the arrest was during a pretty poor season. Third he got injured in the combine. Fourth he is not Chandler Hoffman. Fifth he looks like Mehdi Ballouchy. These are not good signs. Maybe Ben Olsen doesn’t understand the draft yet.
12:37: At this point, I have just typed Chandler Hoffman’s name next to each remaining pick and will drop him accordingly.
8. Portland Timbers select Andrew Jean-Baptiste, DF, University of Connecticut
Down goes Hoffman! I actually thought the Cooper trade may have been foreshadowing a pick of Hoffman here, but no. This is a needs based pick. Jean-Baptiste is a project who apparently bad feet, so who knows.
12:42: At this point the Taylor Twellman count for times he says a team needs to draft a forward: 9.
9. Chicago Fire select Austin Berry, DF, University of Louisville
“Defenders are flowing”? Oh Adrien Healey, not your best line. I know nothing about Berry, other than that he is not Chandler Hoffman. Good name though. Being as I know nothing about him, he’s probably going to be the first American superstar at a European super club by 2014.
10. Columbus Crew selects Ethan Finlay, FW, Creighton University
Last year, I saw Finlay ranked as the top MLS prospect. Before the combine I saw him ranked in the mid-second round. Obviously that first day hat-trick picked him up. Meanwhile the consistency through the combine hurt Hoffman. Finlay looks to be a replacement for Robbie Rogers, and the Hoffman train marches on slowly becoming the Nate Archibald of the MLS Super Draft.
I know FCD picked up a forward in Blas Perez, but Hoffman could still be a great fit. Even if it means playing in hot-ass Dallas.
11. FC Dallas selects Matt Hedges, DF, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
This is the first player off the National Champion Tar Heels selected in the draft. Most likely as coverage for George John who is all but gone to West Ham. Smart pick. Even if it is not Chandler Hoffman.
Toronto FC is using the pick they received back from New York for Dwayne DeRosario. Barely a minute off the clock and the commissioner is at the podium.
12. Toronto FC selects Aaron Maund, DF, University of Notre Dame
The quick turnaround made me think Hoffman, but I was wrong yet again. The kid is from Dorchester? Yet another possible New England Revolution Homegrown Player who they never discovered. Not surprised.
13. Philadelphia Union select Chandler Hoffman, FW, University of California-Los Angeles
About time. Alabama rejoices!
Before this pick, Jermiah Oshan tweeted out “man, the american chicharito is …. falling.” Making me wonder if perhaps he would, just maybe, make it to the second round for teams to have a second shot at him.
This kid is a legit player, so I looked at past SuperDrafts to see who else had been picked with the 13th pick. Stefan Frei is the only notable player, and he’s a goalkeeper. This is not good news. Obviously some of us (meaning me) may have been too high on him, or he’ll join the Union and explode for 20 goals this year and prove us all wrong.
1:02: Taylor Twellman’s chair breaks, making for the only interesting analysis of the night.
At this point, with Hoffman off the board, and people feeling down about Enzo Martinez, your guess is as good as anyones in how to pick an impact player.
14. Colorado Rapids select Tony Cascio, MF, University of Connecticut
Love the Rapids’ strategy of drafting the player who looks most like Dwayne DeRosario
1:06: A near classic ESPN advertisement lets us know that “The biggest events in soccer are on ESPN…[until 2015]!”
1:07: Charles Barkley’s new Weight Watchers’ commercial makes me wish that Eric Wynalda was playing the Barkley role on this boring ass broadcast.
1:08: Am I the only person who thinks including Omar Gonzalez on the list of loaned out MLS players is a bit disingenuous? What about George John who, while technically on loan, was going to leave MLS on the free anyway? Glad Alexi Lalas at least brought up the Gonzalez injury.
15. Seattle Sounders select Andrew Duran, DF, Creighton University
The Homegrown Player Rule needs slight change. Duran was brought up in the RSL academy –aka MLS’s most professionally run academy. Yet when RSL put in a Homegrown claim on him it was denied. It’s a bit ridiculous. Years ago, the NBA had a territorial pick where a team could put in a claim for a player that went to college nearby.
This is how Philadelphia ended up with Wilt Chamberlain (cheating the rule because though Wilt went to Kansas, he attended a nearby high school). It’s a nice pick for Seattle, but if he ends up being any good RSL got screwed. Most likely he’ll be a good back up with an eye for the future. Could be valuable for CCL.
1:10: The SKC Cauldron is going nuts awaiting their pick. Another memorable draft moment is when the home crowd boos their top pick. Philadelphia fans booing Donovan McNabb is one of my favorite draft moments, though I’m sure it’s not his. I hope the Cauldron boo their pick
16. Sporting Kansas City selects Dom Dwyer, FW, University of South Florida
Huh? I forgot he was on the board. Good pick up because you can never have enough goals.
1:14: So the Wenger interview with Lalas, Twellman, and Healey took place about an hour ago. No interviews since. Who is producing this garage.
1:16: After I wanted to discuss the Homegrown Rule with the Duran pick –where it would have logically fit– Healey wanted to talk about it before the RSL pick, where it would also be a logical fit. Unfortunately, Twellman and Lalas go off on a tangent about Enzo Martinez erasing any hope of a non boring conversation that I might listen to.
17. Real Salt Lake selects Enzo Martinez, MF, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Great pick to a great team going to be a great fit, does it mean anything for Luis Gil?
1:20 This is the local ad I just saw. Marvel at Alabama!
Any who. when Chandler Hoffman was in his free fall, I was very concerned that he would make it all the way to the Galaxy. That would have set off a furor of conspiracy posts. So I guess we’re good for now.I was starting to think that it was a Galaxy conspiracy to get him at 19, but apparently not.
18. Houston Dynamo select Colin Rolfe, FW, University of Louisville
I never question Dominic Kinnear choices. That is all.
There is only one Generation Adidas player left on the board in Tyler Polak. He’s a defender, and Omar Gonzalez was just injured. Problem is Tyler Polak is a Left Back and Galaxy have the best MLS Left Back. Either way, they have to pick a defender.
19. Los Angeles Galaxy select Tommy Meyer, DF, Indiana University
Makes sense as a possible stop-gap until either (a) Omar Gonzalez returns or (b) AEG single-handedly gets MLS to give them –and only them– another DP slot so they can sign Rio Ferdinand.
1:38: Final count for times Taylor Twellman says a team needs to draft a forward: 12.
1:39: Very cool, yet very small sign that soccer has grown in America is watching the members of the Cauldron descending upon Dom Dwyer asking for photos and autographs. This is not a throwball player, nor is he a Jayhawk. The guy was a late first-round pick in the MLS draft. It’s kind of neat to see the genuine excitement of the supporters greeting him with pats on the back, chants, and SKC scarves. Who would have guessed Kansas City, KS (or Kansas City, MO as the case may be) would be a soccer city?
So as the first round draft winds down we are left with a very astute observation from Alexi Lalas. Healey and Twellman begin talking about how many great players there potentially are in this draft. Lalas counter with, “a year from now we won’t be talking about a lot of them.” That is what makes drafts interesting, even if they don’t typically fit with soccer.
I still believe that the SuperDraft will become less and less important, but I don’t think it will ever completely disappear. Yes, academies will –probably sooner than we realize– eclipse colleges for players entering MLS. But players will always come from those ranks.
Originally, I got into MLS to watch for future USMNT players. Now that I am fully engrossed in MLS, I just may have to get further into college soccer in order to find future MLS players. Either way, it’s all about hoping to get a glimpse into the future. And that is what a draft should be all about.