From College to the Pros - The US soccer ladder

Monday, January 12, 2009

2009 MLS Draft - Counting Picks...

If you have the time to go back in the From College To The Pros archives you'll find that in many of my early posts I tried to back things up with numbers and stats. You see, I went to college to become educated as an engineer, I went to business school and looked at a lot of spreadsheets and I've played an ungodly number of hours of Championship Manager since numbers make sense to me. I like to relate things to them. If I had unlimited funds I would work to create a soccer scouting company based on numerical analysis of players' performances. You get the picture. Right now we're going back to basics here at FCTP.

All of the analysis was done on the draft order released by MLS a week or so ago. I don't remember hearing of any recent trades, but if there have been some, I didn't include them.

I decided it was time to look at how the 2009 SuperDraft breaks down on a team by team basis. Who has the most picks, the least, the best, the most in the first round, the most that will end up meaning something, etc. Then I assigned point values to each of the categories I created. Here is a list of the categories and how many points teams got for each.

- First Round Picks (2 pts each)
- Second Round Picks (1 pt each)
- Top 5 pick (1 pt each)
- Top 10 pick (1 pt each, in addition to points received for top 5)
- Greater than 3 picks (points = (total picks/2) - 1)

Lets start with the easy stuff.

Most picks: Colorado and New England both tied with 7. What does this tell me? Those two teams will do some deals, shuffling picks with teams that don't have as many. Why? With the smaller developmental rosters and the lack of a reserve team there isn't room for a bunch of draftees. However, you can have more senior players this season so trade for some solid veterans.

Fewest picks: Chivas USA, Houston & San Jose tied with 2. Perhaps these guys will try to get more out of the draft by trading a want away player? We'll see. News out of the combine says this draft is deeper than last year so maybe one of these teams will look for more young talent by obtaining picks. Perhaps not.

Here is the overall pick count:
Chicago Fire - 4
Chivas USA - 2
Colorado Rapids - 7
Columbus Crew - 3
D.C. United - 5
FC Dallas - 4
Houston Dynamo - 2
Kansas City Wizards - 5
Los Angeles Galaxy - 4
New England Revolution - 7
New York Red Bulls - 3
Real Salt Lake - 3
San Jose Earthquakes - 2
Seattle Sounders FC - 4
Toronto FC - 5

Now to the meat of the analysis I did. Who got the most points, showing they have the best chance of getting the top young talent entering MLS in 2009? Below is the ranking based on the point system I described above that obviously rewards early picks since the top rated talent goes early.

#1: Toronto FC (11.5 pts) - Toronto has 3 first round picks and 2 in the top 5. Add two more picks to that and TFC has a chance to do well this year. The #2 pick, yeah that's good.

#2: New England Revolution (9.5 pts) - 4 picks in the first two rounds should help the Revs re-tool for another title chasing season. It also helps to have so many picks which helped add points to a total which would have been lower given #10 being their first pick.

#3: FC Dallas (9 pts) - While FCD only has 4 total picks, they're all in the first two rounds, with 2 picks in each of the top two rounds. By the end of the second round pro grade prospects will be mostly off the board so the Hoops have a chance to get some good talent. Their first pick, #5, could bear fruit during the 2009 season.

#4: D.C. United (8.5 pts) - Similar to FCD, DCU has 4 picks in the first two rounds, two in each. That will help them load up with the top talent 2009 has to offer. Their first pick is #6.

#5: Kansas City Wizards (6.5 pts) - 5 total picks with 3 coming in the first two rounds should give KC a chance at top talent. The #8 overall pick helped them score points and gives them a chance to grab a gem.

#6: Seattle Sounders FC (6 pts) - Seattle hasn't been around long enough to trade away picks from this draft in previous years so they're straight forward, one pick in each round, in the position they're supposed to be in at the top of each round. However, after the #1 and #16 picks, things are going to get light, so they find themselves in the middle of the pack in this ranking.

#7: Los Angeles Galaxy (5 pts) - LA does have the #3 overall pick but then they miss the second round and their last three picks come late, so the best of the draft will be harder to find when their card comes up.

#8: Chivas USA (4 pts) - They only have 2 picks but they come in the first and second round. The #9 pick should yield something and the #19 has a decent chance, but with the SuperDraft sometimes volume outweighs position, and this year Chivas USA lacks the volume.

#9: Colorado Rapids (3.5 pts) - While they have the most picks, the Rapids only have 1 pick in the first two rounds and it is the second round. Opposite of Chivas USA, the Rapids have plenty of volume but it could come too late especially since there isn't a reserve league to let guys grow into the pro game a little more slowly.

#10: New York Red Bulls (3 pts) - The Red Bulls have a couple picks in the first two rounds but only one more after that. With 14 overall they should be able to get someone solid in a deep draft, but there is a chance that their pick doesn't mesh with the club and then they're looking at a second and third rounder and lower odds of success.

#11: Chicago Fire (2 pts) & Real Salt Lake (2 pts) - A tie for the 11th & 12th spots doesn't bode well for these two. Both teams have been assembling a strong veteran core so I'm not sure how much they need the SuperDraft.

#13: Columbus Crew (1pt) & San Jose Earthquakes (0 pt) - The champs lost their coach but re-signed the best defender in the league. Draft picks will just be gravy for them and with the #30 pick being their first, the chances of getting any gravy are slim. San Jose has a second rounder but only one more after that.

#15: Houston Dynamo (0 pt) & - 2 picks, the first one is #41, enough said.

So there you go. Nothing overly scientific about it but that is my ranking on who has the best draft changes this Thursday.



  • I like the analysis (fellow engineer), but I see a couple of flaws.

    - You did not account for open roster spots, open dev spots, or current GA players. This helps determine the picks value to your team, and thus their value to other teams. New England is going to have a hard time moving those last few picks when other teams know they don't have the roster space.

    - Greater than 3 picks (points = (total picks/2) - 1) ... I would argue that there is some diminishing returns here, not a linear scale (much like your points for first and second round, but none for 3rd and 4th)

    - The reduced roster spots, and eliminated supplemental draft both hurt teams with large amounts of draft picks (due to freedom of draftee choice) or partially help teams with few picks. This is something that I can't even begin to quantify.

    - Current roster age vs. number of draft picks does also affect the draft (young teams generally want veterans and vice versa, see NE / HOU / FCD). Again, hard to quantify.

    If I come up with specific adjustments, I'll let you know. Again, I like the starting point.

    By Blogger Philip, at 5:05 PM  

  • Philip, great comments. Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately I don't have the time or energy to take this analysis much further. :) Next time!

    By Blogger Bonji, at 10:45 AM  

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