From College to the Pros - The US soccer ladder

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Not All Professional Soccer Players Follow The Same Path...

Head on over to for the story of Collin Burns. This is a reminder to all the young players out there not to be discouraged by someone telling you, "no".

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Better Late Than Never - Recapping The 2009 Draft

If the most exciting day of the MLS offseason is the day before the draft, when more people than usual are dreaming of 4-4-2's and discovery options and Kansas City Wizards depth charts, the most terrible day is the day after the draft. This is the day when anybody who felt like it was worth some of their time to think about the draft realizes that thinking about drafts may be fun, but leaves you with a terrible pit in your stomach afterwards. They're just not important enough to be worth the time in the end, and it looks like it will be ANOTHER season without any franchise asking you to be their scouting coordinator.

(Before I go farther, let me just give myself a pat on the back for correctly and completely nailing three picks in Thursday's draft. You might say "wow, three out of sixty, in a draft with hardly any trades, big whoop". But let's consider the degree of difficulty involved. I missed the first 10 picks, based on lacking things like a "strong and explicit understanding of team needs" and "inside information". But I got 11, 21, and 55. Try to find another draft watcher who got those three right, including nailing a non-combine pick late in the fourth-round. The Revs taking Tyrel Lacey may inspire me to do mock drafts for another five years, since the shine of nailing #70 pick Lars Lyssand to San Jose in 2002 was wearing off.)

The most obvious talking point after this year's draft was the apparent resurgence of the combine as a key measure of a player's draft value. There are a lot of intuitive reasons why this is a bad idea, and they all seem to be pretty much accurate. Throwing a bunch of players together for a couple of pick-up games and thinking you can find the best player seems awfully unlikely, which is probably not much consolation for players who were passed over after sterling college careers. So, clearly, it is not so easy to erase the image of a player wandering around a torn-up Florida pitch with a lost expression in his sad eyes, or stepping on a ball and falling down and splitting his shorts or whatever, because players seemed to clearly rise and fall based on the agglomerated general perspectives of the combine.

I suppose I could give MLS teams more credit, and say, they invited these particular kids because they had already been heavily scouting them. So, maybe, the Revs were already smitten with Ryan Maxwell and just needed to make sure he wasn't homicidal or wouldn't poop in Oscar Castillo's hamper over the weekend (the old Najeh Davenport trick). But I don't buy it. If they loved Maxwell, then why invite him to the combine at all, and just invite other teams' interest? Maybe a bunch of teams were on his trail, but it seems unlikely. Maxwell did not have an amazing college career (perfectly good, but not amazing), he's Jamaican, he's 26 this coming season, he hasn't been called up by The Boyz since he was a teenager. It just doesn't add up together. Nothing against Maxwell, who appears to be a fine student, good guy, and better player than I probably am even in my dreams, when I'm dribbling circles around Luther College. That said, there doesn't seem an argument for taking him at #15, unless you thought the combine proved something important. Sure, he was fast and he can maybe replace Khano Smith someday, but shouldn't the Revs aspire to do more than find a facsimile of the man who still holds the mark for the worst free kick in world soccer history? While the level of athleticism required to jump from college to MLS keeps getting more daunting, you still need soccer players most of all, and production still is the best way to evaluate skill. Maxwell may prove me wrong, but I just can't believe he wasn't a fourth-round pick or undrafted without the combine, and that's no way to do things.

I'm probably the only person in the world to, secretly and only half-jokingly, believe the NFL might be better off just randomly distributing the best 800 college players to teams and letting them bring them in for a few weeks and work them out. The NFL has the opposite problem of MLS, in that they seem to care far too much about their draft, and spend insane amounts of money and effort over a period of months trying to convince themselves that they can forecast success and overlook college production. And while every NFL player comes through the draft process, unlike MLS, it isn't all that clear that doing well or badly in drafting is the end-all, be-all, except for the odd franchise top pick quarterback who turns out. The NFL has ample opportunity in it's liberal free agency to build a team. Arizona may have highly drafted stars like Larry Fitzgerald, but they also blew a top pick on Matt Leinart and Pittsburgh hardly ever has a top pick.

For MLS, there seems to be a general agreement that the SuperDraft will never decide individual teams' league fortunes. There is a risk, however, that this process is continuing to overlook players who can improve the general state of play a little and maybe even be sold off at some point, simply because they don't show well in a chaotic few days of ragball or don't get invited to participate at all. MLS might just be better off just sending 150 top senior players from all college levels to random teams, and instructing those clubs to have an intensive week-long training stint where those players and other trialists can be seen in a more comprehensive and conducive setting. A player like Nelson Pizarro, for example, was a great player for Lincoln Memorial last year, but nobody paid any attention to him, until he won a place on KC's reserve roster after shining in one of those questionable open tryouts where half the players are freelance journalists. He had proof he could play already - it would have been nice if someone had given him the time of day (although I guess it's nice to make him pay for his spot, instead of being paid to try out). Sure, the random allocation idea is overall pretty silly and unfeasible, but it's smart to consider what's best for the league, and if the combine is assisting that goal. How does the league get the best talent they can afford, from the biggest star to the end of the bench? These questions probably matter more than which kid gets picked #52 by the FC Philadelphia SC.

On the other hand, 10 of the 15 teams get my approval, so perhaps my mild outrage is misplaced. Also, I don't know which players have told MLS they'll be following their dream to play in Finland's Second Division, so don't bother. So, any pick analysis is ultimately left wanting for more info.

Teams I thought would do well I think they did: Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Salt Lake, Toronto

It's hard to evaluate MLS trades, because you never really know how much money changes hands and what it's eventually used for. It seems like Chicago didn't get a whole lot for an above-average keeper. But, if he was never going to sign for them, at least they were able to get a local GenAd player with some potential in Husidic. And if the allocation money allows them to keep Bakary Soumare for an extra few years, it would be super worth it. The other picks seemed pretty solid, especially Jata, who is poised to become the Luke Wilson of MLS. I always like what Dallas does in the off-season, so it's a shame about their usual in-season. Marosevic is still only 19 after three improving seasons at Michigan. Shriver was a good choice who should have been at the combine. Los Angeles took highly productive players, which I appreciate. They gave up a bit for Delagarza, especially to a close rival, so it will be interesting to see if he's worth it. Boateng and Patterson were both great value for where they were picked. I bet one of them turns out well, either in MLS or abroad. New York made a smart play swapping picks with Dallas at 11 and 14. Seemed minor, but it gave them the choice of two slippers - Hall or Frei. Hall is a youth nat and first-team All-ACC player, so whether he works out or not, that's good value. I think Ogunbiyi has a shot, but I thought the other two picks were banal combine selections. Salt Lake is getting a lot of stick for Alexandre, and I'm qualifying this thumbs up. Think of it as a thumb sideways. Until Buzz Carrick informed me that Alexandre was going to be a d-mid, I didn't get the pick either. A one-year scoring wonder in D2 is not a first-round prospect. A physically gifted midfielder, with a longing to commit violence on the field, who can ALSO score 23 goals for a top D2 team. Maybe not first-round either, but interesting, and I give RSL credit for that. Bhembe is the best Swazi in MLS ever, but at 26, can he even be called a prospect? Toronto does a good job in drafting, now can they develop some on-field cohesion? White was risky at #4, but since they got Frei at #13, I see no reason to quibble. Wow, they took two Canadian residents. Whoever hit MoJo on the head with a chapati pan and explained why domestic players could be particularly useful should get a raise. I'm not sure where Cronin fits in given their roster, but collecting skilled players never hurts, and Grella was a shrewd pick where they got him.

Teams I thought would do well but now I think they didn't: Colorado, Columbus, Kansas City, New England, Seattle

Colorado is really not a good drafting team, so they shouldn't be in this category should they? I thought they did well because of the production of their recent lower-round picks, but I suspect that was just due to Clavijo's lazy-susan roster management style. Getting Pickens was probably a great move, but I can't give them a thumbs-up because their actual picks seemed lazy, with only the last two striking me as good value. For example, Adjeman-Pamboe had basically one good college season. Columbus seemed like they didn't care much, making three ho-hum combine picks. They didn't need much and had no high pick, but complacency kills. I do like Clements though - if they had taken him first, I'd be more generous. Kansas City's draft lived up to all the boring, boring Wiz jokes. A whole slew of older, hard-working players, and nothing to get the juices flowing. Besler had an excellent college career, but not so excellent that I can see taking him over some of the young stars available at that pick. Seemed like a reach based on need, although I approve of getting a hometown kid. I don't really have a problem with their picks, productive players all, but there seemed to be an opportunity to be more proactive and get better value at the top. New England - I've covered what I didn't like. I like the Alston pick, he can play left, Albright can play midfield - whatever, you just have to collect talent. I'm dinging them solely on the Maxwell pick, because it makes me mad. The rest of the picks seemed fine. I thought Seattle was going to be all hopped up to win right away, but the picks looked more like Sigi woke up from a nap and scribbled some names down. I'd be nervous about Zakuani, and heights, if I lived in the Space Needle, because the record of #1 forwards is terrible, and SteZak will be making a lot of money in two seasons. I thought the entire remainder of the picks were overdrafted. Can Karkas make two Azusa Pacific roster stickers in two seasons?

Teams I thought would not do well but now I think they did: Chivas, DC, Houston, San Jose

I like what Chivas did. People are cracking on them for passing Frei, but maybe they have another keeper in mind. For me, Lahoud is not a slam-dunk, but he should stick around just based on his versatility and athleticism. I liked the trade down to get two additional players for a team that can't keep a full lineup together, and the difference between 19 and 35 in an MLS draft is pretty small. And both later picks interested me - two non-combine players whose production deserved more attention. DC needed to do well, and I think they did. Wallace gives them speed and Pontius gives them heart, both of which are sorely needed on the Lovebugs. Kocic and Adams may never sign, but at least DC made sure to get two pre-signed players first this time, so they are talented and acceptable risks. Houston getting Danny Cruz was fortuitous for both parties. Cruz may have shed more tears at the draft than Rashard Lewis chopping onions, but I bet his being passed over by everyone ends up reflecting worse on them than him. Look, he's 19, did the business at UNLV, and has enough burn to play for the youth nats. History says these sliders usually pan out better than a combine crush. Meanwhile Cruz gets to be the top pick of a team with a good coach and not a lot of depth. The Tracy pick was wise too, because anyone else they wanted they could sign post-draft, while Tracy's rights had to be locked with a pick. San Jose redeemed last year's tomfoolery. I love both picks, and had both players in my first-round. If you squint, the thin and blonde Ring might get you imagining Dario Brose, and I wouldn't be surprised if Amarikwa, six-months in, is giving everything they would have gotten from Sealy, but at a much lower price.

Teams I thought would not do well and didn't disappoint me: Boo, none

Friday, January 16, 2009

2009 MLS Super Draft Wrap Up...

FCTP 2009 MLS SuperDraft Review

I guess I'm still in the post draft hangover stage of feeling like I typed a little too much yesterday but I also want to get some thoughts down on "paper". Yesterday was a good draft. Not a lot of trades and no real head scratching surprises. I got excited about how my Rapids compensated for a lot of low picks by using a trade and allocation money to shore up the goal keeper position. To do this review I thought I would go back to my points rating post from the other day.

You'll remember I came up with the following ranking of teams draft picks:

Toronto FC
New England Revolution
FC Dallas
D.C. United
Kansas City Wizards
Seattle Sounders FC
Los Angeles Galaxy
Chivas USA
Colorado Rapids
New York Red Bulls
Chicago Fire
& Real Salt Lake
Columbus Crew
& San Jose Earthquakes
Houston Dynamo

Ok, now here comes a change up. You folks didn't get a chance to read what I was working on in this space up to this point, because Ives just published his draft review and it basically negated mine. I'm not going to try and reinvent the wheel. I was trying to do something similar but Ives said it more eloquently and he's more educated on the draftees then I am. So, go read his review and then come back.

Ok, hopefully some of you actually came back. Ives says well what needs to be said. Toronto did very well but we predicted that, didn't we? So let's compare my rankings pre-draft with Ives' rankings post draft. My ranked team on the left, Ives on the right.

Toronto FC - Toronto FC: We matched. My rankings were weighted towards the teams with more first and second round picks and Toronto had the most. Well played by them stacking up all those picks. Now the best prospects need to turn into players for the men up north. There is a high likelyhood that one or more of their picks will wind up playing well for the team. Well drafted TFC.

New England - D.C. United: Looks like NE squandered their picks and DC did better than expected with what they had.

FC Dallas - LA Galaxy: Again, LA did better than I thought they would and FCD did ok.

D.C. United - New York Red Bulls: Can Jeremy Hall fill in for recently traded Dave VDB? I'm not so sure, I actually think Ives has New York a little high on his list...home team bias? Babajide Ogunbiyi is a good prospect but we'll see if he can get onto the field much as a rookie.

Kansas City Wizards - Chicago Fire: I'm not sold on Baggio Husidic. He certainly looks talented but will he be able to come in and make an impact. The Fire don't need him this year with Blanco coming back but still, will he be ready to take charge when Chicago needs him? We'll see. I don't agree with Ives that moving up to #20 gives them a good draft grade. Meanwhile I do like KC's picks more than Ives. Besler was early at 8th overall but maybe someone on the floor was telling KC they were going to take him...who knows. Zusi and DeMartin could look bargains once the season starts.

Seattle Sounders FC - New England: I agree that NE could have done better, I mean they were #2 in my "mathmatical" analysis. I think I was pretty good with Seattle and Ives does give them a B which is the same as New England. We'll call this one a push.

LA Galaxy - FC Dallas: Interesting that these two teams find themselves paired up again, isn't it? Ok, maybe not.

Chivas USA - Seattle Sounders FC: Some people are putting a lot of stock in Michael Lahoud but I am questioning his size. We'll see who's right in the long run. Regardless as Ives points out how do you pass on Frei when you got your taste of a great, young keeper in Brad Guzan. It would have been poetic to see Frei follow in Guzan's footsteps all the way until Frei leaves for Europe and gets a solid allocation out of it. No? Allas, they didn't and right now you're left wondering who from this draft will make an impact for Chivas USA in the future.

Colorado Rapids - Colorado Rapids: Ding, ding, ding...we match. I think Colorado did a good job with what they were working with. For the price of an allocation they get a solid MLS keeper, who is up and coming in the US National picture, to replace apparently want away Bouna Coundol and not as good Preston Burpo. The Rapids found the best way to get a starter in the second round out of the MLS SuperDraft. Good on ya. In the 4th round their PR department enjoyed touting being the first team to have four selections in one round...ok...big deal. They got a bunch of guys who could make the team and who will put pressure on the current Rapids development guys to accept the low ball salary renewal offer because you've got a bunch of young, hungry kids on your heels. Jordan Seabrook turned some heads at the combine so I hope he can turn into an impact rookie for the Rapids. God knows they need someone to step up and start scoring goals.

New York Red Bulls - Kansas City Wizards: Again, New York did better than my analysis predicted but I don't think as well as Ives thinks. Time will tell. Kansas City left us scratching the head with Besler at #8 overall. I'm sure he is going to work to prove us all wrong.

Chicago Fire - San Jose: I agree with Ives that SJ moved up. Just having two picks is tough as my analysis showed putting them at the bottom. Ring and Amarikwa could seem like great pics sometime down the road. Again, Chicago showed either my analysis was bunk or they're crafty because I agree they did better than this ranking showed they could. Good job.

Real Salt Lake - Chivas USA: Did Salt Lake just pull another Bessagno draft? Time will tell if Jean Alexandre was worth the high pick. Ives doesn't think so as he put RSL to the bottom...frankly where they belong. Chivas USA dropped in my analysis as discussed by Ives.

Columbus Crew - Houston: As Ives points out Houston didn't "need" a lot from this draft and they took one guy with a lot of talent on paper who won't count against the salary cap. Then they took a flier on the best name in the draft pool who just signed a European contract today, Marcus Tracey. Now, in the off chance that Tracey doesn't like Europe and wants to come home, Houston will own his rights for two years. We'll see if that happens. Columbus didn't have a lot of chances to impress in this draft and as Ives points out, they lived up to my ranking...or worse.

San Jose - Columbus Crew: San Jose did better, Crew did worse...kind of.

Houston - RSL: Houston did as expected...RSL did worse. And I love to see RSL do poorly at anything.

So there we have it folks. Another draft gone by. I love the draft because we get to see some kids come up through the ranks and then land with teams. I also love it because it means training camp is right around the corner. Players are reporting for duty here in Colorado in 10 days is memory serves. I'll be out at Dick's Sporting Goods Park by late March. Thank god.


Rivers Cuomo, Soccer Lover...

This video was posted on another blog this morning but I wanted to call special attention to it for a couple reasons. 1) I like the band Weezer, 2) because I relate to the feelings he talks about and I bet you do to. I mean how many of us grew up wanting to be good at soccer and to play professionally or dream of taking the field with professional soccer players? And here is a internationally known musician having the same feelings. Cool!

Take a watch over on YouTube via the above link as embedding was disabled. It is a cool story. Rivers, next you need to get some Bumpy Pitch gear for the road.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Colorado Rapids Youth Team Headed To International Tourney...

I am a little typed out but I thought this was news worthy. The Colorado Rapids are sending one of their youth teams to complete in the Clyde Best Tournament in Bermuda next month. This is the kind of development MLS clubs need to participate in. Young soccer players from Colorado will be facing off against top French club Sochaux and two Bermuda national teams in the u-15 age group. Competing against teams from around the world in this way will expose the young Rapids to different styles of play and difficult opposition. In the long run these types of events will help MLS develop top players. Well done Rapids, well done accepting the invite and sending the kids.

While we just wrapped up the MLS Draft, this kind of development will someday help improve college players and MLS players.

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2009 MLS SuperDraft Live Tracking...

Folks, here is how we're going to work this today. This will be the live thread. I'll update it as information comes across the wires running under my desk. You can follow along live on ESPN360 and via all the other blogs out there. In particular I'm going to give you my thoughts and the honors I've tracked for these kids. Nerves must be high in St. Louis right now. We're 15 minutes away from go time. Remember to refresh, refresh, refresh...

all times Mountain time by my computer clock.

12:03 pm - Is anyone getting anything on ESPN360?

12:07 pm - Steve Zakuani #1 overall as many expected. He grew up in London playing with the Arsenal youth squads. Had a strong college career. Is rumored to have signed the largest Generation Adidas contract in the history of MLS. Honors: 2007 CSN All-Freshman Team, 2007 MAC Newcomer of the Year, 2007 1st Team All MAC, 2008 CSN POTW, 2008 Hermann Trophy Watch List, 2008 Hermann Trophy Semifinalist, 2008 Hermann Trophy Finalists, 2008 NSCAA/adidas Men's All-America 1st Team.

12:11 pm - Toronto FC takes Sam Cronin with the #2 pick. I guess they didn't want to wheel and deal the way people thought. Honors: 2003 NSCAA Youth adidas All-American, 2003 - 2004 ESP, 2007 TDS 3rd Team TOS, 2007 NSCAA/adidas All-America 2nd Team, 2008 CSN 1st Team Pre-Season All-American, 2008 Preseason All-American Starting XI, 2008 Hermann Trophy Watch List, 2008 All-ACC 1st Team, 2008 Hermann Trophy Semifinalist, 2008 Hermann Trophy Finalists, 2008 NSCAA/adidas Men's All-America 1st Team

I think LA will take Frei. They need help in the nets.

12:12 - Ohh yeah, I now have ESPN360 up and running after restarting it. Nice.

12:15 - Oops, forgot about Ricketts the keeper they just signed. LA takes...Omar Gonzalez. He's a tall one. Honors: 2005 FIFA U-17 WC Team, 2005 NSCAA/adidas Boys Youth All-America Team, 2006 PARADE All-America, 2006 US U-20, 2006 CSN 100 Freshman to Watch, 2006 SA Freshman of the year 2nd team, 2007 U-18 Pan Am Games, 2007 TDS 1st Team TOS, 2007 NSCAA/adidas All-America 3rd Team, 2008 CSN 1st Team Pre-Season All-American, 2008 Preseason All-American Starting XI, 2008 Hermann Trophy Watch List, 2008 All-ACC 1st Team, 2008 Hermann Trophy Semifinalist, 2008 NSCAA/adidas Men's All-America 1st Team

12:19 - Let's check in on my mock draft. I've got two out of three right in that they went in the first round. I had who, when, wrong. Ohh well. Better than Emile's 1/3.

12:20 - Toronto takes....UConn's O'Brien White. Well, this is the Canadian angle many saw coming but I've got to say I would think he'd be on the board a lot longer. Does Mo not care about their next first round pick because I think he would have been able to get him then. Who knows if another team would have taken a risk on him. Seems like Mo could be dealing the next one if he didn't wait for White in the #13 slot. Honors: U-15, U-17 and U-20 Jamaica, 2005 1st All-Freshman Team, 2006 Big East All-Conference, 2007 CSN POTW, 2007 CSN Playmaker, 2007 TDS 1st Team TOS, 2007 NSCAA/adidas All-America 1st Team, 2007 CSN 1st Team All-American, 2007 SA POTY, 2008 CSN 1st Team Pre-Season All-American, 2008 Preseason All-American Starting XI, 2008 Hermann Trophy Watch List, 2008 Hermann Trophy Semifinalist, 2008 NSCAA/adidas Men's All-America 3rd Team.

12:24 - Got this one right. FC Dallas takes Peri Marosevic. Go Blue!!! Honors: 2004 - 2006 US U-17 Residency, US U-17 & U-18 Team Member, 2005 ESP, 2005 NSCAA/adidas Boys Youth All-America Team, 2006 CSN 100 Freshman to Watch, 2006 CSN 2nd All-Freshman Team, 2007 US U-18, 2007 U-18 Pan Am Games, 2008 US U-20, 2008 Big Ten All-Conference 1st Team.

12:29 - DC United takes Rodney Wallace with the 6th pick overall. A quick, young defender from Maryland. Solid choice and I hope he works out for the Red and Black. Honors: 2004 ESP, 2007 CSN 100 Freshman to Watch, 2007 TDS All-Rookie 1st Team, 2008 All-ACC 2nd Team.

12:31 - As in previous years Generation Adidas kids are going quickly.

12:34 - 5 minute time out for DC United...there must be a trade on the table because there is no way they need an extension when they have back to back picks. Trade, trade, trade!

12:37 - DC picking someone? Chris Pontius, F, goes to DC. Good pick up, but why did they need the time out? Honors: 2007 CSN POTW, 2008 CSN 3rd Team Pre-Season All-American, 2008 Hermann Trophy Watch List, 2008 Hermann Trophy Semifinalist, 2008 NSCAA/adidas Men's All-America 3rd Team.

12:38 - Pontius is making an acceptance speech? At #7. Hugh?

12:42 - KC Wiz takes Matt Besler, D/M. Honors: 2004 ESP All*Star, 2008 CSN 2nd Team Pre-Season All-American, 2008 NSCAA/adidas Men's All-America 1st Team. Another acceptance speech.

12:44 - That last pick is the first I really blew in the mock draft. I had Matt at the bottom of the second round. Congrats to the senior defender from Notre Dame on moving into the first round. He is a Kansas City kid so looks like a solid pick from that angle.

12:46 - Wait, did anyone else notice the kid they just showed in a SuperDraft shirt and standing with a Chivas USA scarf was previously shown holding a DC United scarf? WTF?

Chivas USA picks Michael Lahoud. M/F from Wake Forest. Honors: 2008 All-ACC 2nd Team.

12:51 - New England goes for Kevin Alston. He slipped from where I thought he would go but I'm expecting some good things from him. I think he has a solid pedigree and a lot of skill. Nicol made a great pick here I think. Honors: 2004 ESP, 2005 FIFA U-17 WC Team, 2005 NSCAA/adidas Boys Youth All-America Team, 2005 Parade All American, 2006 CSN 100 Freshman to Watch, 2007 U-18 Pan Am Games, 2008 Big Ten All-Conference 1st Team.

12:55 - #11 sees Jeremy Hall go to NYC. This could be an exciting pick for them. Knows how to score and play the ball. Harks makes an interesting point...another outside midfielder for NY? I guess they could see him as a replacement for Dave VDB who just went to Dallas but those are big shoes to fill for a rookie. Honors: 2003 - 2005 US U-17 Residency, 2004 ESP, 2005 FIFA U-17 WC Team, 2005 NSCAA/adidas Boys Youth All-America Team, 2006 PARADE All-America, 2006 CSN 100 Freshman to Watch, 2006 ACC Freshman OTY, 2006 CSN 1st All-Freshman Team, 2006 SA Freshman of the year 1st team, 2007 U-18 Pan Am Games, 2008 All-ACC 1st Team.

1:00 - RSL goes for who? Jean Alexandre...Lynn University....Didn't have him on my list. Ohh well, he's going to RSL. I guess he's from Haiti.

1:04 - Wow guys, how do you really feel about Mexico?

1:05 - #13 for Toronto FC picks the MVP from the combine, Stefan Frei. Well there you go. I got the player right, just the wrong round. I think Toronto has just had a very successful first round. Honors: 2007 NSCAA/adidas All-America 1st Team, 2008 CSN 2nd Team Pre-Season All-American, 2008 Hermann Trophy Watch List.

1:09 - #14 pick for FCD - George John from University of Washington. Honors: 2008 Hermann Trophy Watch List. I heard from an MLS insider that John is his dark horse pick for 2009. He was right in that no one expected him in the first round. I had him at the start of the second.

1:13 - Twellman says he's coming back to NE this season, he wants to see a good pick. What if he gets traded right now? Hah. That would be a funny one.

1:15 - NE takes Ryan Maxwell, M from Tampa. I guess Taylor will stay in NE another season. Last pick of the first round.

1:18 - My Rapids are coming up in this next round, five more picks. Let's think about who they could select that I'd like to see in Denver in 2009....personally I think a forward is an important piece for the Rapids. But a solid defender would be nice as well. Mike Grella would be nice if you can sign him. He says he wants to go abroad. Since this is their only pick for awhile lets skip him. Jordan Seabrook did some good work to impress at the combine. Those are a couple forwards. How about Michael Holody on the defensive side...or perhaps Yohance Marshall. We'll see soon enough.

ESPN360 is posting will be slower in the second round.

1:24 - Did you all notice no trades in the first round. WTF? Anyone want to research when the last time that didn't happen. Does that mean Mo isn't Mr. Trade now?

1:39 - #16 Seattle - Evan Brown, #17 San Jose - Brad Ring & #18 New York - Babajide Ogunbiyi. New York is collecting a team of names. Look at their roster with Babajide Ogunbiyi. All noise before the Rapids first pick.

1:41 - Without my ESPN360 feed I nearly missed a trade. Chivas USA's #19 pick to LA?

1:44 - AJ DeLaGarza to LA after the trade. I like this guy. A lot of people think he's too small to be in MLS as a defender but what they're forgetting is how often players are converted in MLS. Perhaps he can help on the outside of defense or in midfield. We'll see what LA does with him, but I think it is a good pick. He was solid for Maryland on the road to the 2009 championship.

Now the RAPIDS are on the clock. First big move of Coach Smith's career.

1:47 - Rapids trade their pick to Chicago who takes Baggio Husidic. Now is when we'll see if that new Rapids blog is at all useful.

1:49 - There you go. The Rapids Undercurrent has some useful information on the trade: "Colorado has swapped second round picks with Chicago in a deal that nets the Rapids the rights to a player to be named later. Now Colorado will make their first pick of the day at #28." Well done Undercurrent.

Player to be named later...hmmmm.......Brian McBride? Doubt it! Must be a lower level guy who is worth trading up 8 slots for.....want away Wilman Conde? Calen Carr for a little sizzle on the front line?

1:59 - No sign of the Chicago player headed to Colorado. I'm working a couple lines. There could also be allocation money going on of the directions.

2:07 - Rapids Undercurrent now saying allocation money is in fact going to Chicago in the deal. That makes me think the Rapids are getting a bigger name like Conde...however word just in is that Colorado traded for Matt Pickens' rights because Bouna isn't re-signing.

2:11 - Colorado is almost back on the clock. Can we snag an attacker this time around?

2:14 - FCD takes F Brian Shriver from UNC. I like that pick. Rapids are on the clock.

2:18 - Still no confirmation on the trade as we await the next Rapids pick.

2:20 - Rapids take Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe, M/F from George Mason University.

2:24 - End of the second round. We saw our first trades this round, and I'm still trying to figure out what happened with the Rapids and the trade with Chicago. We know Colorado moved down and got a player, but who? We know some size of allocation money went to Chicago. Stay tuned.

2:35 - Just noticed the Rapids now have 1 pick in the third round, #37. They traded #35. says it is now with Chivas USA via LA.

2:46 - Toronto take Mike Grella with the 34th pick. Good move by Toronto. They've filled their plate with young players who should contribute in the next couple if Grella can't sign in Europe he'll come back to them too. Low risk move with what they've already accomplished today.

2:50 - Ives and I agree. Jordan Seabrook is the best talent still on the board. Here's hoping he doesn't get picked by DC before the Rapids can take him.

2:56 - Rapids take Steward Ceus, GK, with the 37th pick. I guess the Rapids aren't too keen on keeping Justin Hughes around. Honors: 2008 NSCAA/adidas Men's All-America 3rd Team. Huge kid at 6' 6", 215 lbs. Interestingly he went to Albany. Isn't that where Bounatime went to college? Between this and the Pickens rumor I think Bounatime is over in Denver.

3:06 - Ives is confirming what we reported here an hour ago.

3:07 - The Rapids trading for Matt Pickens and then selecting a solid prospect in Steward Ceus
shows coach Smith is starting over at keeper. Preston Burpo was part of the Clavijo team and had his ups and downs while Bouna was out of country. When Bouna returned Smith didn't play him right away. Perhaps there was a rift. Bouna was allegedly offered a six figure contract renewal by the Rapids but it now looks official that he isn't signing it, instead he'll probably listen to his agent and try Europe. It makes sense as his family is still in Senegal. So what will happen with Preston Burpo and Sharpe the league keeper who trains with the Rapids?

3:26 - The Rapids take Ross Schunk, F, University of Redlands (OR) with the 47th pick. He's got good size but is going to be a long shot to make the team.

3:36 - In what could be the steal of the draft the Rapids pick Jordan Seabrook, F from S Florida.

Honors: 2004 ESP All*Star, 2005 1st All-Freshman Team

3:42 - six picks to go. Rapids have one more after taking Henry Kalungi with the 53rd pick. Time to start working on the draft recap...

3:58 - Rapids finish their draft on a solid note. Michael Holody. D from Michigan, Go Blue!!!! Good expereince in the PDL and solid size at 6' 3", 200 lbs. Honors: 2003 - 2004 ESP, 2006 PDL TOTW (2), 2008 Big Ten All-Conference 1st Team, 2008 NSCAA/adidas Men's All-America 3rd Team

Chris Clements is the last pick. That is it. I'll come up with some kind of wrap up tomorrow. What do you think of the draft today?

Thanks for following along.


Emile's 2009 Mock Draft - The MLS Draft, So Out, It's In Again

After last year's draft, I felt fairly confident that it would be my last one to follow closely. The draft is increasingly being seen as a relic, and even though (or maybe because) MLS teams do a better scouting job, by and large, than they used to, the results felt uninspired and the players made little impact on the field. Was it a one-year downturn blip? I guess we'll find out, but I'm of the mind that the draft remains no more or less important than it ever has been. Which is probably not all that much. Teams like Dallas, that treated the draft as a serious swap meet haven't gotten much from their efforts, and teams like Houston that don't bother much have remained strong. Clearly, the key is to have a strong and consistent organizational philosophy and no amount of hot picks will fix your problems if you don't.

I expect that we will see more and more of the impact young American players being kids returning from those European handbag leagues I've heard so much of. For MLS, this is not a bad outcome, since they can get players who are just old and wizened enough to contribute immediately. And supposedly we'll start to see more of the teenage set getting scooped up from MLS academies before they ever get to attend the debauched bacchanal that could possibly be the NSCAA Conference where the draft is held. But college will keep supplying the meat and potatoes, the organizational soldiers who will fill out the squad's unglamorous positions and get their shots in the US Open Cup, and become stars every now and then.

The draft reeled me back in. It always reels me in. However, I didn't spend as much time this year thinking about it and collecting information as I have in the past. My picks may reflect that. Although guessing this thing has always been a wild crapshoot anyway, so I don't expect it to be any more or less embarassing than usual. But I feel happy today that this yearly ritual is back, while I freeze my tuchus off in the frozen Midwest and ignore my job.

To me, being bothered or angrily apathetic about the MLS draft is like hating duckings, or younglings. It's a fun exercise that tells us a little about the braintrusts of each team, and gives us sweet MLS fantasies in the middle of the winter when everybody else in the world is stuck watching whatever passes for actual football in their corner of the world. The draft is a riot of rumors, obscure colleges, and funny names. Players with amusing backstories who will never be heard from again. I know everyone is in a hurry to get MLS up to world-wide snuff, so that the most interesting stories we get are a star midfielder punching a Pakistani kid in the throat at a nightclub, or a star forward giving it to some dumb model who isn't the same dumb model he's married to. But my friends, these are the shabby chic days of MLS, and the draft is the shabbiest, chicest day of the year. So enjoy it, and when Dan Loney reviews it five years from now, take it all in with a fond, nostalgic laugh.

Rather than format this one pick at a time in order, I think it's more instructive to think of it in terms of what each team wants to do, and who will be doing it. My analysis for each team may be way off, so feel free to imagine your own ideas in their place.

Chicago Fire
Drafting Personality - Smart, Stupid, Predictably Unpredictable
2008 Draft Represented By - Stephen King, Melford James Jr.
2009 Predicted Picks:
28. Doug DeMartin 6-0 F/M Michigan State Mason, Michigan
43. Kevon Neaves 6-0 175 M South Florida Petit Valley, Trinidad & Tobago
52. Ryan Roushandel 6-2 188 D/M Central Florida Atlanta, Georgia
58. Ancil Farrier D Southern Connecticut State Los Bajos, Trinidad & Tobago

I always love to watch the Fire work the draft. Somebody on that staff (I'm guessing Daryl Shore) really tries to dig deep into college soccer's welcoming folds to find lost crumbs. Every year, the Fire braintrust makes one or two just hair-raising, inexplicable picks - and then redeems themselves by unearthing one or two serious contributors later than they ever should have been able. In bad years, the Fire hilariously blow an early pick and in good years they save their wacky stuff for the second or third round. Their 2008 efforts will take time to evaluate, but it was a fairly safe and sedate draft until the Supplementary Draft (when they picked James and Tim Conway). I think Nyarko will pan out into something, and King was a smart, late-round grab of an overlooked and productive college talent, even if they did lose him to Seattle right away. The first-round will be a little drabber than usual without Chicago.

My favorite fact about DeMartin is that he played his college ball at the DeMartin Soccer Stadium in East Lansing. It's named after his aunt and uncle and not him, but you'd have to feel pretty bossy about it. He's a productive college scorer with good size, who might be able to play a midfield position in MLS. Neaves could be one of Chicago's late-round sleeper picks. He's solidly built and has played for T&T at the senior level, but never quite reached his potential at USF. It was reported that an injury forced him to decline a combine invite. Roushandel moved back to defense this year, and did well in an otherwise mediocre season for the Knights. The former Clemson recruit could be nice long-term project for the back line. Farrier is another T&T full international. He had a subpar senior season, but it probably talented enough to be worth a look.

Chivas USA

Drafting Personality - Barren, Grouchy
2008 Draft Represented By - Keith Savage
2009 Predicted Picks:
09. Graciano Brito 6-2 175 F Quinnipiac San Nicolau, Cape Verde
19. Daniel Cruz 5-8 F/M UNLV Glendale, Arizona

Chivas indicates their concern for the draft by never having any picks, then resorting to hiring cabbies halfway through the year to play in their midfield. To their credit, it doesn't stop them from making the playoffs. Savage was their only pick last year, so this year's bounty of two picks (in the top 20 no less) is a rare treat for the occasional Goats fan.

This Brito selection will probably make me look bad, but I don't see Chivas USA as a team to follow convention. Brito is tall and lanky, and a good athlete, who could make a good understudy for Galindo. I haven't seen his story around the blogs lately, but, according to a feature by Paul Kennedy in SoccerAmerica, Brito had not played any organized soccer until he went to college at age 18, having been a star volleyball and basketball player in Cape Verde. He seems to be a smart, level-headed guy, and he may have more room to improve than most. Cruz would be a nice second-round prize. He's probably a ways off from contributing, but Chivas can use some new faces on the wings, just like - well - every other team.

Colorado Rapids
Drafting Personality - Mysterious, Nut-Punching
2008 Draft Represented By - Ciaran O'Brien
2009 Predicted Picks:
20. O'Brian White 6-1 175 F Connecticut Scarborough, Ontario
37. Kyle Patterson 5-9 160 M Saint Louis Birmingham, England
47. Michael Callahan 5-9 150 D/M North Carolina Cary, North Carolina
51. Lamar Neagle 5-11 UNLV F/M Federal Way, Washington
53. Patrick Figueiredo 6-0 M Adelphi Campinas, Brazil
59. Tyler Barry 6-0 165 D California Mission Viejo, California

Alright, nut-punching is not really a drafting personality. The Rapids actually have a pretty solid recent history with the draft, although it hasn't helped them in the standings much. The nut-punching comes from the assorted anti-fan decisions coming from something called a "Jeff Plush". I think it's some sort of haunted doll. The mystery, meanwhile, is supposed to have finally left the building. Under John Murphy's reported high-level scouting and Fernando Clavijo's documented lunatic coaching, the Rapids had some pretty mixed results - unearthing oddball contributors like Kosuke Kimura and banishing other high picks to Clavijo's revolving, high-density doghouse. Take O'Brien. In classic Rapids fashion, he played in the season opener, got a red card in 19 minutes and was never heard from again. The new gaffer is supposedly an improvement, and if Paul Bravo had as much to do with LA's draft as I think he probably did, then Colorado should be pretty well covered on the scouting end. So maybe things will be looking up, perhaps with more of a West Coast angle on prospects than in the last few years.

White is a real wild-card in this draft. For a second-round pick, he seems like a good gamble, and, while Colorado's offense was not the glaring chasm of a problem it was a few years ago, depth never hurts. Others have Patterson much higher, but I'm not sold. He obviously fared well at Saint Louis, but neither he nor the team did so well that I buy him as more than a mid-round roster striver at right wing. Callahan didn't get a combine invite, but he was a four-year starter at UNC. He's undersized, but plucky and defensively versatile. Neagle played well when UNLV was crap, and kept playing well when they got good. He had 27 goals in his career, but I'm not sure he can play in the midfield and late round forwards are dicey. We're due for another MLS player from Adelphi, and it also seems that at least one Brazilian gets drafted every year, so let's go with Figueiredo. He dominated the Atlantic Soccer Conference, for whatever that's worth. Barry would be a defensive long-shot, but Cal guys always seem to get picked, don't they?

Columbus Crew
Drafting Personality - Deservedly Smug I'd Expect, Unstressed
2008 Draft Represented By - Andy Iro
2009 Predicted Picks:
30. Darrius Barnes 6-2 175 D Duke Raleigh, North Carolina
45. Graham Zusi 5-10 155 F/M Maryland Longwood, Florida
60. Craig Henderson 5-10 155 M Dartmouth Wellington, New Zealand

They have to be pretty relaxed in the Arch City. After somehow keeping Chad Marshall, this young and deep team hardly has any holes to fill and at least has the whiff of a new league multi-year top dog. Sure, Sigi took his common-law midfielder Brad Evans with him to Seattle, but Adam Moffat will be back from injury and Emmanuel Ekpo seems ready to become something special. Iro was a top pick, but was hardly needed, and is still high-quality surplus for now. Warzycha and Co. really just have to resist the urge to do something crazy. In the long run, they need to avoid becoming complacent or believing that they are the 39th incarnation of the Benevolent Sky Giant or whatever. Teams with sustained success always get too heady and start drafting like drunk Ellingers. It doesn't matter what league or what sport. The Crew need to just stay the course, be cool, and try and get one or two players who can cover for injuries and maybe take a role in a few years when the European cleat pimps come for real.

Barnes reportedly did well at the combine, and he has just enough athleticism to play outside at his size. If anything, it looks like the Crew need depth at the outside back positions. Although he played a key role in last month's Maryland title run, Zusi was not really a star player until this season. On a team like Maryland, you can just rise to national prominence as a senior and get picked, but in my opinion it keeps you out of the first round for sure. I miss the good old days of MLS, when you make a visit to Crew Stadium without a New Zealander bloodying your sock. Henderson has been stellar in the Ivy, which is no joke, and played for the Kiwis in the Beijing Olympics.

FC Dallas
Drafting Personality - Soul Devouring, Enigmatic
2008 Draft Represented By - Josh Lambo, Brek Shea
2009 Predicted Picks:
05. Sam Cronin 5-10 165 M Wake Forest Winston-Salem, North Carolina
14. Peri Marosevic 5-9 160 F/M Michigan Rockford, Illinois
27. Calum Angus 6-0 168 D Saint Louis Portsmouth, England

Am I the only person who fears Schellas Hyndman? When I try to think of what he looks like, all I ever come up with is Max Schreck's Nosferatu, although I don't think there is really all that much of a resemblance. I'm interested to see what Dallas is up to, given that the last regime had a very particular approach to the draft. Which was wheel, deal, mass picks, seek value, and, above all, draft kids like Shea and Lambo. Draft kids until you can't draft any more because they've eaten all of Steve Morrow's Cocoa Krispies. I always liked their approach - it seemed highly-planned and daring all at once. Unfortunately, it took too long for the kids not named Blake Wagner to turn into something, and so the regime got disbanded when they produced a soggy, bitter mess of over-hyped internationals backed up by naifs. You'd think that Hyndman would relish some good old-fashioned, stalwart college player selection, but their moves and rumors indicate that this regime might not be predictable.

If Hyndman does decide to look for more mature players, having Cronin available at #5 would be ideal, especially since Adrian Serioux is rumored on the block and Ricchetti always seems about to leave. Marosevic would not replace Oduro's speed, but Dallas seems to have openings for all types of depth forwards this year. It's just too easy to put a guy named Angus on the team with a cow badge, but it was unintentional, I swear. Dallas will no doubt deal with it's defensive issues through international acquisitions, but Angus might be able to stick and would be reasonable value at this pick, based on his college production.

DC United
Drafting Personality - Hopeless, Cavalier
2008 Draft Represented By - Andrew Jacobson
2009 Predicted Picks:
06. Michael Lahoud 5-8 140 M/D/F Wake Forest Annandale, Virginia
07. Kevin Alston 5-8 150 D Indiana Silver Spring, Maryland
21. Milos Kocic 6-4 200 G Loyola-Maryland Leskovac, Serbia
26. Jide Ogunbiyi 6-4 205 D Santa Clara Gwynedd, Pennsylvania
36. Bright Dike 6-1 195 F Notre Dame Edmond, Oklahoma

Watching Tom Soehn sad-sack his way through this sad-sack team's sad-sack season was, well, sad. DC thought they could just go the full international, forget about putting a team together, and just stick a bunch of South Americans everywhere. And so they ended up with a depressing Latin fusion, lacking grit and speed (but with an imaginative goalkeeper at least). Emulating Los Angeles should never be a goal. This draft is probably as important to DC as any team. With four picks in the first two rounds, they would be helped greatly by getting at least two contributors who can breathe some life into this corpse this season. To this end, they should take care to not have all of their best picks sign in Europe, like Jacobson last year, so Generation Adidas players may be a smart way to go.

Lahoud and Alston would comply with DC's needs of a little youngblood and vigor in the midfield and defense. Both guys are local, which DC surely wouldn't mind, but would they use both of these important selections on such little guys? We'll make it up with more size later. Kocic might be tempted to stick around in the US if he can stay in the Metro, or he could be just another who got away. Ogunbiyi is a hulking presence with enough foot skills to have played forward in college, but big center backs have not been faring well out of college lately. Yeah, yeah, Bright Dike is a wacky name - we went over this years ago in the BigSoccer college forum, so don't think you're funny. Dike didn't do much at Notre Dame until a big senior season this year, but he has the sort of size/athleticism combination that gets scouts thinking about the possibilities.

Houston Dynamo

Drafting Personality - Petulant, Bored
2008 Draft Represented By - Geoff Cameron
2009 Predicted Picks:
41. Zack Simmons 6-2 185 G Massachussets Durham, New Hampshire
56. Jean Alexandre 5-11 190 F Lynn Delray Beach, Florida

Houston gives the impression that they really don't care much about the draft. They trade their picks, make strange picks, and fail to address glaring positional needs that are NOT going to be fixed by aging Scotsmen from crappy Scottish teams. Yet, it keeps working for Houston. They've developed a strong organization that can take unheralded picks like Corey Ashe and Cameron, and make use of them. It doesn't always work - for example will John-Michael Hayden ever be let out of the Sugar Land porn dungeon they've apparently been keeping him locked in (zero first-team minutes in two seasons for a first-round pick is ridiculous)? Yet, Houston seems to be inching towards a large-scale rebuild, and you'd think at some point, they're going to need to keep a few picks and find a few players who can reset the dynastic form they've enjoyed for the past several years. I like the Julius James addition, but they don't really have any more MLS MVP's to trade, so they'd be helped by a more voluminous draft one of these years.

The Dynamo's inattention to the goalkeeping seems like lunacy. They still have a single netminder on the roster - one who just turned 41. Even if Onstad is the Peter Shilton of Point Grey, a developmental backup would certainly be useful. I'll send them Simmons here, the darling of UMass' crazy NCAA run in 2007. More likely the pick will be a player from the combine (because I don't think Houston does very deep scouting), like Steward Ceus. Or perhaps more likely, no goalkeeper at all. Houston's forward depth is at a low ebb right now. Even if Ngwenya comes back, they'll need more there, so they take Alexandre here, the bulldog Hatian-American who had 23 D-2 goals this season.

Kansas City Wizards
Drafting Personality - Jocular, Competent but let's not go crazy with praise or anything
2008 Draft Represented By - Chance Myers
2009 Predicted Picks:
08. Baggio Husidic 6-1 173 M Illinois-Chicago Velika Kladusa, Bosnia
22. Akeem Priestley 5-11 165 M Connecticut Kingston, Jamaica
23. Joshua Boateng 5-9 160 F/M Liberty Accra, Ghana
42. David Hertel 5-10 D Michigan State Holland, Michigan
50. Alfonso Motagalvan 5-10 175 M UC Santa Barbara Gilroy, California

Peter Vermes and Curt Onalfo have an air of competency about them. The Wizards go into the draft, make a few solid moves here and there, make fairly straightforward picks for the most part. They just seem like they have a plan in mind. Apparently that plan is to be genially mediocre until the end of time. Can anyone hate this team? You never see them on TV, they seem to just chug along merrily at about .500 never pissing anyone off. Well, there was l'affaire Kevin Souter, but I don't see it being the basis of a John LeCarre novel any time soon. Chance Myers fits in with the Wizards pathology. Seems like a good kid, right? Might develop into a solid piece, right? Meh, so boring!

Husidic seems to be a guy that nobody can quite get comfortable with. Perhaps they are reminded of Xavier Balc, or other central players that couldn't get or take the chance to make an MLS midfield. Traditionally, college pans out wings and defenders. The trail of failed strikers and central midfielders will soon be made into a constellation. But Husidic has plenty of admirers, and he certainly had an impact at UIC. Kerry Zavagnin has hung up his legendary boots - is there enough bite in Husidic's game to play defensive midfield for the Missouri Azzuri? Remember that KC pioneered the whole Bosnians in MLS thing, or have you forgotten Refik Sabanadzovic already? Priestley is another central midfield prospect who has been capped by Jamaica and quickly acclimated to the Big East after transferring from Jacksonville in 2006. Boateng should be going to the Chicago Fire, who seem to think they have territorial rights on Jerry's Kids from Liberty. I say KC nabs him before the Fire get a chance, given that African attackers are the MLS hip thing, and throws him up top or on the wing. Boateng had a great season with Patrick Nyarko at Virginia Tech in 2005 before transferring. This gives KC three international players in a row, but the new roster rules don't make this so problematic anymore. Hertel wowed everyone at the combine, and even though everybody says the combine doesn't tell you anything, they obviously really think it does. Hertel was first-team Big 10 this year, so he's no stretch at this pick. Motagalvan had two very good seasons at UCSB. What I really like about him is that he lists Chivas USA as one of his favorite clubs, making him the rare college player to admit liking MLS. And even rarer as a human being claiming to be a Chivas USA fan.

Los Angeles Galaxy
Drafting Personality - Busy proving that good drafting is wasted if your team is a three-ring circus, Assholish
2008 Draft Represented By - Sean Franklin, Brandon McDonald
2009 Predicted Picks:
03. Stefan Frei 6-3 200 G California Widnau, Switzerland
33. Jamie Franks 5-8 150 M Wake Forest Medford, New Jersey
35. Maxwell Griffin 6-0 175 F UCLA Palmdale, California
48. Matt Besler 6-0 170 D Notre Dame Overland Park, Kansas
49. Andrew Bailey 6-0 150 F/M Sonoma State Davis, California

We'll have to see if Bruce Arena's malevolent smirk can answer all of the questions surrounding this side. You'd like to think the answer is yes, but after his fairly dismal stint in New York, I'm not so confident. Now that New York has tasted some success, is Los Angeles poised to become the league's semi-permanent Rotmasters (if I may steal the term from irritable geriatric Paul Gardner), with a series of unprepared celebrity coaches and disinterested Eurostars? This is not a drill. This is happening and Bruce needs to squash it quick before the culture of losing overwhelms. Paul Bravo headed up a great draft last year, so they have a few nice young pieces. Franklin will only get better and McDonald is perhaps the most interesting developmental project from 2008. I don't really remember Arena's drafting style to be honest, other than taking everyone from Virginia and any flesh and blood that might be available. Bill Archer reminded us that he left New York with Dane Richards and Sinisa Ubiparipovic, so that's a good portent, even if those were just basic, smart picks of highly productive college players. Often though, that is all you need.

I know some will say Frei doesn't make sense, given the Galaxy's multiple field needs and the recent signing of Donovan Ricketts. But LA is a team that will always be able to find interested internationals to fill the most pressing problems, salary cap willing. Making Frei win the starting job over a veteran might be a good motivator, although I guess Brad Guzan managed with being thrown straight into the firing line. Franks is the forgotten member of Wake, a 3.5 year starter who didn't get to the combine. He's small, but piled up assists and hails from New Jersey. Did you know Bruce Arena is also from New Jersey? And that Brian Ching is from Hawaii? Griffin, the brother of current Galaxy player Leonard Griffin, never really improved his numbers over the years but finished his Bruins career with 25 goals. Besler didn't show much attacking verve from his center back position at Notre Dame and lacks ideal size for the position, but he scooped up a lot of conference and national honors. The lanky Bailey had his lowest career goalscoring season as a senior, but showed enough over his career to be worth a look.

New England
Drafting Personality - Bespectacled, Trend-Setting
2008 Draft Represented By - Rob Valentino
2009 Predicted Picks:
10. Brad Ring 5-10 165 M Indiana Rockford, Illinois
15. Quincy Amarikwa 5-9 160 F/M UC Davis Bakersfield, California
24. Mike Grella 5-11 170 F Duke Glen Cove, New York
25. Trevor Banks 5-9 160 D/M Old Dominon Madison, Wisconsin
38. Yohance Marshall 6-2 170 D South Florida Malabar Arima, Trinidad & Tobago
55. Tyrel Lacey 6-3 197 G Tulsa Jenks, Oklahoma

After spending a few years trying to convince everyone that Nicol and Mariner were not an infallible drafting juggernaut (remember Leandro de Oliveira, or what?), I've come back around to regarding them warmly. When they started heisting all sorts of good players early in their reign, it was mainly sitting at the bottom of the aquarium awaiting for some teams to fight over their stupid picks and letting the tastiest flakes just fall to them down in the treasure chest. Yeah, Clint Dempsey was not an unknown in that draft people. Then, after blowing a draft, they tried taking Wake Forest players before it became this year's fashion. Last year, it was Duke. Look, taking a lot of players from the inarguably best conference in America is never going to be a bad move. What I'm liking now is that they seem to be maintaining their simple plan of taking the best players available, but adding some scouting nuance. The Valentino pick impressed me, because he's from the West Coast and had missed his senior season. It showed they were paying attention, which is all I ask of anyone. We don't know how Valentino will work out yet, but I'll always think it was a smart pick. Good thing they draft well too, since the Revs are determined to never bother putting together a complete team or spending any money on helpful players from foreign lands. Maybe this 24 man roster will be to their benefit, since they usually only had 24 anyway. Or maybe they'll try to go with 18 players. They have a lot of picks this year, and they need to be good ones, because the attrition of having been a cheap-ass franchise for so long is starting to glaringly show and is only going to get worse.

Ring has a very solid record of success at Indiana, and a nice bite to his game. I think he can rival Sam Cronin as a holding mid prospect, and it's a shame he had to miss the combine. I like Amarikwa more than most. It's hard to undersell how much UC Davis accomplished in becoming a high-level team after just five seasons in Division I. Amarikwa has improved every year and appears to have the sort of feisty nature that the Revs can use up top. Grella hasn't signed overseas yet, that I know of, and the Revs have enough picks that they can wait and see if he gets homesick in the next few years. He's probably not an MLS star, but another guy who can make a team and be especially useful for a low-budget enterprise like the Revs. Banks has experience all over the park, but would best supply outside speed depth on a team exposed as painfully, painfully, painfully slow against Joe Public. I expected Marshall to slip even before the combine. At 38, he'd be great value at a position in need of depth. Lacey ably replaced Dominic Cervi for Tulsa this season, and the Revs are still unsettled at backup keeper.

New York Red Bulls
Drafting Personality - Polyglot, Scheming
2008 Draft Represented By - Danleigh Borman
2009 Predicted Picks:
11. Jeremy Hall 5-11 163 M/F Maryland Tampa, Florida
18. George John 6-4 D/M Washington Shoreline, Washington
29. A.J. Delagarza 5-8 140 D Maryland Bryans Road, Maryland
44. Jordan Seabrook 5-10 165 F South Florida Indianapolis, Indiana

I'm pretty sold on Juan Carlos Osorio at this point. He may have some strange in-game coaching habits, but he seems to have a real knack for acquiring talent. He left Chicago with a well-stocked larder, an angry and confused larder perhaps, but well-stocked. And New York seems headed in the same direction. He's a bit like one of those college football coaches that recruits like a madman. Having talent will always get a team to a decent level. At some point, you may get frustrated by the lack of titles, but it's dangerous to forget that it's very possible to have a team that lacks both the ability to come together at crucial times AND talent. Which pretty much describes most of New York's history in MLS. Anyway, Agoos also seems sharp, and I expect it will be another productive draft for the Red Bulls. I panned the Borman pick last year, so I have to be gracious when a team shows they know a hell of a lot more about this whole business than I do.

One of the big names is likely to slip to New York at #11, which is why the first-round pick swap with Dallas in the van den Bergh trade was not just a thoughtless toss-in. At that point in the draft, three spots probably could very well be the difference between a GenAd youth star and hunchbacked college senior. I have Hall trickling down, where he can try to fit in on the left side vacancy left by van den Bergh. Certainly, Osorio will look for an international signing to take the starting role, but it will be nice to have a hopeful backup plan if the whichever Venezuelan they get is a bust. John impressed everyone at the combine, partly because he seems to taking to his new defensive role with enthusiasm. He still has to prove he can handle the marking demands at center back, but it's clear his dribbling and passing skills should be well above the average college to pro center back. Delagarza probably needs to figure out the nuances of playing outside, but even if he can't he might be able to join with one New York's normal-sized center backs in a four-back set. Seabrook made a big impact in college ball as a freshman, but never built on it much. Still, late in the draft, he's well worth a look.

Real Salt Lake
Drafting Personality - Analytical, Drafting is Serious Business
2008 Draft Represented By - Tony Beltran
2009 Predicted Picks:
12. Chris Pontius 6-0 170 F/M UC Santa Barbara Yorba Linda, California
54. Kyle Christensen 6-1 187 F/M Denver Layton, Utah
57. Brandon Barklage 5-11 165 M Saint Louis Saint Louis, Missouri

I have to admit that I'm kind of a fan of what Salt Lake has been doing. Last year Garth Lagerwey, who used to be best known as the world's only MLS-themed stand-up comic, was going around unsmilingly telling anyone who would listen that Real was going to do more homework than anyone and do a great job in the draft (he is apparently now referring to last year's draft as 'historically poor' by the way). It's yet to be seen if Beltran or David Horst will make it as serious MLS contributors, but I like the serious approach. I've been predicting that Salt Lake would be making the jump for a few years now, and I'm gratified to finally be sort-of right. Sure Jason Kreis' regime got off to a terrible start. So much so, that I'm a considering an illustrated book series for pre-teens about poor choices, called "Jason K.'s Terrible, Mixed-Up Day". But Kreis and Lagerwey have their business pointed in the proper direction, with growing depth, good young players, and a consistent management style. Another serious draft to address the remaining shallow positions could give them just enough of a push to have a consistently good season and legitimately challenge the top dogs.

RSL already took two UCSB players last year, but Pontius just seems like a good fit with the Salt Kings. He's feisty and active, and seems comfortable playing the wing instead of adding to the youth movement they already have at forward. The local kid Christensen could be more than just a PR release for the local news. Sure, he's a Mormon who left Denver for two years on his mission, but he came back and picked right up where he left off, ripping up the MPSF. Plus, his mission was in Argentina. How lucky was that? What if they had sent him to Nepal? Or Canada? Barklage is left-footed, which is a plus and a stated need for the club.

San Jose Earthquakes
Drafting Personality - Dreary, Grasping
2008 Draft Represented By - Shea Salinas
2009 Predicted Picks:
17. Chris Clements 6-2 187 D Tulsa Allen, Texas
32. Raphael Cox 5-7 M Washington Tacoma, Washington

Frank Yallop deserves more time to reinstall his narrow-field victory machine. But last year's draft was mostly a washout, although I guess you could easily argue that trading all but one pick was smart in a year with almost no impact rookies. I thought Salinas, their only pick, was overdrafted on a good combine and on strict need, although he has plenty of time to prove me wrong. San Jose had needs all over the park, and also failed to get anything useful at all in the Supplemental Draft (and a few useful players were taken by other teams, you can look it up). Yallop's first San Jose team improved after acquiring several quality veterans, but also got important contributions from college players they folded into their system who became stalwarts. With only two more picks this year, the Quakes are fighting long odds of finding similar contributors.

Clements has become underrated by his supposedly middling combine showing (he was reported to be nicked up), but he's the sort of rugged defender that I think Yallop appreciates. And I KNOW John Doyle appreciates. Clements had an U-20 callup in 2006, and has been around while Tulsa has ascended into a high-level NCAA team. If San Jose is still desperate to find wing speed, Cox might fit the bill. He's little, but a leftie who ascended to first-team Pac-10 this year.

Seattle Sounders
Drafting Personality - Silly, Possessing the Buddha Nature
2008 Draft Represented By - Lenhart!
2009 Predicted Picks:
01. Rodney Wallace 5-11 152 D/M Maryland Rockville, Maryland
16. Brad Rusin 6-4 200 D UCLA Holmes Beach, Florida
31. Matt Murphy 5-11 165 M UC Irvine Anaheim Hills, California
46. Nate Jafta 5-6 145 M Lindsey Wilson Pampierstad, South Africa

I'm impressed with Sigi's style. He doesn't have the same kind of sweaty need for approval like the Salt Lake guys or the faux mysteriousness of the Fire braintrust. He just sits there, with his Zen belly and little smirk, and makes smart decisions. Take Lenhart(!). He was the third forward in a row that the Crew picked last season, and that seemed a little much to me. The more highly regarded Josten and Pierre-Louis have already been put down at the MLS roster hospital, but Lenhart! remains. Sigi knew that he had some minutes for a rookie forward, so bring in a whole bunch and one of them will probably be worthwhile - and be radiantly comedic if you're lucky. Sure Lenhart! only played 278 minutes last year, but did the Crew ever win a title without him? Think about it. I get the sense that Seattle has big expectations this year, and I wouldn't be completely shocked if they made the playoffs given the general state of disrepute in the Western Conference. That does put some additional pressure on them to not follow the hallowed MLS tradition of totally blowing the #1 pick. Hopefully, Drew Carey won't let an Irvine frat boy decide it on the Plinko board. Oh yeah, take that Drew Carey!

I think I'm the only draft buddy to have Wallace first. So, Seattle would probably be smart to trade down, assuming they wanted him at all. I like Wallace's development curve at Maryland. He made an instant impact with the Terps and built on it with an excellent sophomore season. Wallace plays on the left and can slot in at the back or in the midfield. Using high picks on versatile outside players seems like a trend and a good way to flesh out the formation. Nobody knows what the deal is with Rusin, who trialled in Europe last college off-season and wasn't picked for the combine. If he'll sign, he's a pretty fair prospect. I'm reading too much into the Sigi from SoCal thing, but Murphy has had a Brad Evans like career at Irvine, without the youth nat call-ups. I'm sure he can be slotted in a lot of different positions if he can make the team. Jafta was all the rage last year, but had a quiet senior season at Lindsey and has fallen off the radar. He trialled with the Crew, so it's a possibility at least.

Toronto FC
Drafting Personality - Angry, Beet-Red, Furious
2008 Draft Represented By - Julius James, Pat Phelan
2009 Predicted Picks:
02. Omar Gonzalez 6-5 206 D Maryland Dallas, Texas
04. Steve Zakuani 6-0 170 F Akron London, England
13. Lyle Adams 6-1 170 D/M Wake Forest Orlando, Florida
34. Marcus Tracy 6-1 170 F Wake Forest Newtown, Connecticut
39. Michael Coburn 6-3 180 D Memphis Dundalk, Ireland

The organizational style of TFC is something akin to a tremendously intense game of 52-Card Pickup. Nobody wins in the end, and you probably don't visit those friends anymore. Recent history suggests that getting drafted by Toronto is pretty much a guarantee that you will get to live in at least two MLS cities. James and Phelan had their brief visits to Ontario before being cast away in two of Mo Johnston's copyrighted histrionic roster makeover episodes. Since Maurice Edu and Marvell Wynne (yeah I know he came in a trade) have been a couple of the team's more exciting players, it might be good to keep two top-four picks and bring in some more of that sweet young talent. Of course, this means that Toronto is shopping the picks. For what? Some veteran players who can later be shopped for draft picks, which can later be moved for allocation money, which can then be spent on the ruddiest midfielder in the English third level. Look, all of us other than Bill Archer want this Toronto side to have at least one good season before FIFA forcibly repatriates them into the Please Mum! Canadian Championnat, so MoJo, get it together and let a team gel for God's sake.

If Toronto sticks with what they have and ends up with Gonzalez and Zakuani, I think the PR will be good, even if I'm not totally sold on either player yet. Maybe Mo is right to be, that can't be. There are 10 solid prospects in this draft. Please, just find two you like and let them breathe Northern air past June. Adams is a four-year starter at Wake, and with a lot of versatility. Tracy is worth a dig, because there's a chance he'll utterly fail in Denmark. Wake ran rings around almost every other team in the NCAA's, and we don't yet know how well Tracy will fare against tighter marking. Then again, teams don't usually give up right away on guys with the whole zoo arsenal (you know, fleet as a darting stag, hops like a scared chinchilla, and so forth). Coburn is just a reach pick, although he had a good career for an increasingly poor Memphis side. It seems like one Irishman always gets picked, and this is it.

Mock Draft, Round 2...

Here is my round 2. Buzz over at 3rd Degree made a comment on his blog about how doing a full mock is kind of pointless. I am sitting here trying to finish mine up and thinking the same thing. There are going to be trades, I'm just slapping names in places, I didn't sleep well last night. It does seem pointless. So here is round 2. I'll brag about getting the 52nd overall pick correct when I do, but I doubt I'll post anymore mock draft rounds. Enjoy!

16 Seattle Sounders FC: George John, M, 6' 3" - University of Washington
17 San Jose Earthquakes: Lyle Adams, D/M, 6' 1" - Wake Forest
18 New York Red Bulls (from FC Dallas, Los Angeles): Josh Boateng, M/F, 5' 9", 160 lbs - Liberty
19 Chivas USA (from Toronto): Danny Cruz, D/M, 5' 8", 160 lbs - UNLV
20 Colorado Rapids (from FC Dallas): Mike Grella, M/F, 5' 11", 170 lbs - Duke
21 D.C. United: Yohance Marshall, D, 6' 2", - South Florida
22 Kansas City Wizards (from Colorado): Zach Simmons, GK, 6' 2", 185 lbs - UMass
23 Kansas City Wizards: O'Brien White, M/F, 6' 1", 175 lbs - UConn
24 New England Revolution (from Los Angeles, Chivas USA): Calum Angus, D, 6' 0", 170 lbs - St. Louis
25 New England Revolution: Michael Lahoud, M/F, 5' 8", 140 lbs - Wake Forest
26 D.C. United (from Houston): Andrei Gotsmanov, M/F, 6' 1", 170 lbs - Creighton
27 FC Dallas (from Salt Lake): Doug DeMartin, M/F, 6' 0" - Michigan State
28 Chicago Fire: AJ DeLaGarza, D, 5' 8", 140 lbs - Maryland
29 New York Red Bulls: Tosaint Ricketts, M/F, 6' 0", 170 - Wisconsin-Green Bay
30 Columbus Crew: Matt Besler, M/F, 6' 0", 170 lbs - Notre Dame

Tell me if you can find the piece of irony I put in here. It is a brain bender and will test your knowledge of previous drafts.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mock Draft #1...

Ok folks, here is my first round. Work commitments have kept me from going too in depth but I should get later rounds up tomorrow. My other contributors are working on mock drafts as well. Enjoy!

2009 Mock SuperDraft by Bonji

#1 - Seattle Sounders FC: Omar Gonzalez, D, 6' 5", 200 lbs - Yeah, those stats are more likely to appear next to a goal keeper than a field player but that is what is putting Omar Gonzalez at the top of my draft. Add those to the fact that Gonzalez is generation adidas and a skilled player and you've got a solid prospect for the future. With proper coaching from one of the top coaches in the league, Sigi, and Gonzalez could find himself holding down the American back line at the 2014 World Cup. Seattle finds themselves with a top keeper, midfielder with flair and forward who can score against MLS level defenses so why not take a gamble on the best defensive prospect in the bunch?

#2 - Toronto FC (from San Jose): Stefan Frei, GK, 6' 3", 200 lbs - Look around the internet and most everyone who has seen Frei play are big fans. Toronto has two early picks, in my mind that gives them license to take top talent, not just need. Many people out there think Frei will be another American schooled keeper who is sold from MLS to a foreign league, meaning when he leaves you get allocation money, not just a wave goodbye. He has a Swiss passport and has played for Switzerland's national youth national team, so going to Europe will be easier than it was for Brad Guzan. While Toronto does have Brian Edwards on the books, they could easily use him as trade bait with another team looking for a prospect/backup.

#3 - Los Angeles Galaxy: Sam Cronin, M/F, 5' 10", 165 lbs - Anyone you read who covered the blog called Sam Cronin the most ready to go player in this draft class. LA on the other hands needs young players who can come in and contribute. Last season was a mess in midfield once you looked past David Beckham. Sam Cronin could be a great player to come in and stabilize the action behind Becks and provide the link between defense and the Golden one...that is of course if Beckham returns. Cronin is said to be a student of the game and a quality individual. His addition could be a positive influence on LA LA Land.

#4 - Toronto FC: Steve Zakuani, M/F, 6' 0", 170 lbs - Depending on who you listen to Zakuani is either the real deal of the next over hyped. A coach who's opinion I trust tells me he's likely to not make an impact for a couple years, if ever. Through a secondary source I've heard other coaches love him. He learned from Arsenal as a kid and then came over here for college of which he's completed two years. In those two years he's helped propel Akron to national prominence. Again, Toronto has a lot of first round picks and can take a chance. He's also GA so he isn't a salary cap hit. Plus, he's British...does the Queen still appear on Canadian stuff?

#5 - FC Dallas: Peri Marosevic, M/F, 5' 9", 160 lbs - According to the bloggers I read Peri helped himself out a lot at the combine. FC Dallas can use some attacking power since Kenny Cooper appears to want out of Big D, or to get paid like Landycakes, and they just traded a useful attacker, Dominic Oduro. Marosevic was the top scorer at the combine and showed he can handle the ball. Generation adidas status will make him more attractive.

#6 - D.C. United: Kevin Alston, D/M, 5' 8", 150 lbs - Alston plays as a fullback and I've read he likes to get forward. That reminds me of Jonathan Bornstein. Alston has a ton of youth national team experience in youth world cups and the like and will not make a dot on the salary cap due to GA status. DC United's defense is somewhat in transition with the departure of their raft of South Americans signed last off-season so Alston could be put in a sink or swim environment. His combine reviews were good so I think he'll be a higher pick in the first round. Plus they've got back to back picks...they can stretch to a talented player as opposed to the perfect player.

#7 - D.C. United (from Colorado): Jeremy Hall, M/F, 5' 11", 160 lbs - Hall is another kid with a lot of quality youth experience having been through the US National Team Residency program. He learned in college from one of the best college coaches out there at Maryland. DC United can grab another talented youngster and give him time to develop because he's GA. Hall likes to run forward and try to score goals. He should be able to use speed down the flank and could probably learn a trick or two from Fred or Moreno. DC is deep at this position so maybe they trade. We'll see.

#8 - Kansas City Wizards: Rodney Wallace, M/F, 5' 11", 155 lbs - Wallace is a talented player who exceled at Maryland. Another GA kid would help the Wizards keep him in a learning role from a great attacking mentor Claudio Lopez. He also could probably be used in a central or flank midfield role.

#9 - Chivas USA: Chris Pontius, M/F, 6' 0", 170 lbs - If Pontius were a generation adidas player he'd probably be a top four pick after his combine performance. To many observers he showed versatile qualities by playing on the left flank and up top during the combine. A player like that is special in MLS because tight salary cap and roster rules mean players who can play in multiple positions add more to a team. That factor increases when we're talking about left sided players who are at a premium in MLS. All that said, Pontius will be a full roster spot player. He's a California boy and Chivas USA could be a good fit.

#10 - New England Revolution: Ryan Maxwell, M/F, 5' 10", 160 lbs - Maxwell came out of nowhere for me. He's a Jamacian player who started at junior college and then transfered to the University of Tampa. At the combine he impressed with great speed and attacking skill. Since the emergence of Dane Richards people are looking for players who can run fast and dribble down the flank and with Steve Ralston moving on in years, Maxwell could fill a hole down that side. He can learn to cross the ball...right?

#11 - New York (from FC Dallas, San Jose, Houston): Brad Ring, M, 5' 10", 165 lbs - Another midfielder with a great soccer pedigree this guys should be able to work his way into the league. He's an astute passer who grew up in the Indiana system which has produced good soccer players. Starter as a rookie? I doubt it, but he should be able to earn a spot on the bench.

#12 - Real Salt Lake: Graham Zusi, M/F, 5' 10", 165 lbs - This kid has been a productive attacker for Maryland and he should be able to work his way onto a team looking to find the final piece to the puzzle. He's a hard worker who showed some quality through his college career and at the combine.

#13 - Toronto FC (from Chicago): Kyle Patterson, M/F, 5' 9", 160 - Patterson snuck up on some people during the combine but I've been watching him since 2006. He's a quality kid from a good St. Louis program. Toronto loaded up on some generation adidas so I think if they actually make this pick they'll go with someone a little more mature who can compete for a spot.

#14 - FC Dallas (From New York Red Bulls): Baggio Husidic, M/F, 6' 1", 170 - A generation adidas player who slipped after the combine. A lot of people were calling him a playmaker coming into the draft but I'm not so sure American Colleges actually create any of them. Playmakers seem to be born on South American streets, not college campuses. I think Dallas could take a chance on him because he's not going to show up on the books for a couple years, but he'll have to come in and show he can get forward on the wings to stay on that team.

#15 - New England Revolution (from Columbus): Babajide Ogunbiyi, M/F, 6' 4", 205 - This is a big attacking player who could benefit playing on a team with a work horse striker like Taylor Twellman and a crosser like Steve Ralston. He impressed some people at the combine and I think that could be enough to garner some first round attention from a team that doesn't need much and is making their second pick.


Draft Day Coming Up...

Tomorrow is the big MLS SuperDraft and I know we're all excited. Later today/tonight we should have some Mock Drafts up and posted. My fellow contributors and I are putting a lot of time in to them and that accounts for the delay. Tomorrow you can follow along throughout the draft as I post thoughts on the selections and I'll put up the honors I've been tracking for each player. It won't be real time because I'm a working man, but I'll do my best.

Now that you've all read the different combine reviews from around the blogosphere, who do you think will go #1 overall?

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.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

2009 MLS Combine Training #1...

I am retracting this post. Sorry.


Friday, January 09, 2009

2009 MLS Combine Kicks Off...

The 2009 MLS Combine kicks off its first match tomorrow. MLS released all of the official teams and schedule. Here they are.

adidas adiPure
Alec Dufty (University of Evansville)
Neal Kitson (St. John's University)
Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe (George Mason University)
Raphael Cox (University of Washington)
Danny Cruz (Generation adidas/University of Nevada Las Vegas)
Juan Guerra (Florida International University)
Jack Traynor (University of Notre Dame)
Darrius Barnes (Duke University)
Matt Besler (University of Notre Dame)
Graciano Brito (Quinnipiac University)
Aaron Clapham (University of Louisville)
Jokull Elisabetarson (University of North Carolina – Greensboro)
Wes Knight (College of Charleston)
Paul Nicholson (Rio Grande University)
Jean Alexandre (Lynn University)
Jordan Seabrook (University of South Florida)
Jeremy Hall (Generation adidas/University of Maryland)
Otto Loewy (Winthrop University)

Coaches: Bobby Clark (University of Notre Dame) and Jeremy Alumbaugh (Springfield United)

adidas Tunit
Stefan Frei (Generation adidas/University of California)
Trevor Banks (Old Dominion University)
Josh Boateng (Liberty University)
AJ DeLaGarza (University of Mayland)
Richard Jata (Campbell Univeristy)
Rodney Wallace (Generation adidas/University of Maryland)
Brandon Barklage (Saint Louis University)
Pav Castenada (Duke University)
Paul Gerstenberger (Boston College)
Andrei Gotsmanov (Creighton University)
Peri Marosevic (Generation adidas/University of Michigan)
Kyle Patterson (Saint Louis University)
Chris Pontius (University of California - Santa Barbara)
Matt Poole (University of Virginia)
Kyle Russell (Coastal Carolina University)
Babajide Ogunbiyi (Santa Clara University)
Daniel Revivo (Winthrop University)

Coaches: Cam Rast (University of Santa Clara) and Marc Nicholls (Greensboro Youth Soccer)

adidas Predator PowerSwerve
Evan Bush (University of Akron)
Sean Milligan (Dartmouth University)
Quincy Amarikwa (University of California - Davis)
Oscar Castillo (University of Connecticut)
Jeffery Harwell (Southern Methodist University)
Keum Sung Kim (Loyola University)
Akeem Priestly (University of Connecticut)
Lyle Adams (Wake Forest University)
Rhett Bernstein (Brown University)
Sam Cronin (Wake Forest University)
Doug DeMartin (Michigan State University)
Bryan Irwin (University of Portland)
Yohance Marshall (University of South Florida)
Ryan Mirsky (Southern Methodist University)
Patrick Murray (Furman University)
Steve Zakuani (Generation adidas/University of Akron)
Nick Zimmerman (James Madison University)
Omar Gonzalez (Generation adidas/University of Maryland)

Coaches: Caleb Porter (University of Akron) and Bobby Muuss (University of Denver)

adidas Tiro

Steward Ceus (University of Albany)
Milos Kocic (Loyola College (Md.))
Ryan Maxwell (University of Tampa)
Michael Lahoud (Wake Forest University)
Chris Salvaggione (UNC – Charlotte)
Kevin Alston (Generation adidas/Indiana University)
Calum Angus (Saint Louis University)
Evan Brown (Wake Forest University)
Graham Zusi (University of Maryland)
Chris Clements (University of Tulsa)
Dylan Curtis (University of California – Davis)
Alex Grendi (University of Pennsylvania)
David Hertel (Michigan State University)
Ryan Maduro (Providence College)
Baggio Husidic (Generation adidas/University of Illinois - Chicago)
George John (University of Washington)
Ross Schunk (Redlands University)
Nick Perera (University of California - Santa Barbara)

Coaches: Chaka Daley (Providence College) and Janusz Michallik (National Director of SoccerPlus Camps)

Here is the schedule of games:
Saturday, January 10
2:30 PM Predator PowerSwerve vs. adidas Tunit (Lockhart Stadium)
4:30 PM adiPure vs. adidas Tiro (Lockhart Stadium)

Sunday, January 11
3:00 PM adidas Tunit vs. adidas Tiro (Lockhart Stadium)
5:00 PM Predator PowerSwerve vs adiPure (Lockhart Stadium)

Tuesday, January 13
9:15 AM Predator PowerSwerve vs adidas Tiro (Lockhart Stadium)
11:15 AM adiPure vs adidas Tunit (Lockhart Stadium)

Remember, these guys are competing for fewer spots in 2009. There is no longer a supplemental draft and the number of developmental spots is shrinking from 10 to 4 or 6 depending on the team. Many of these guys will not be good enough to come in and unseat the established developmental players who have one, two or even three years professional experience. Does that mean we'll see more guys drafted by MLS signing with USL clubs? What do you think?

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