Armchair Analyst: Difference-makers, All-Stars and depth
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The earth shook a bit, and the walls crumbled and franchise-changing decisions were made.
And when the dust settled, 38 players had new homes, and 19 teams had new futures, and ... well, let’s not oversell it. There were a few difference-makers in Thursday’s two-round MLS SuperDraft, a few more potential All-Stars and, after that, a lot of guys who project as “solid depth.”
For most teams, that’s enough. And for the sides that got the difference-makers – and we’re looking at you, now, Vancouver – well, it’s time to get at least a little bit excited about what the future could bring. Here are our ratings of how all 19 MLS teams did at this year's SuperDraft.
Montreal Impact (4) – The Impact came into the draft lacking one thing: speed up top. They came out of the draft lacking one thing: speed up top. Andrew Wenger could possibly be a guy you build a defense around, but nobody’s really sure what his best spot is. That could mean he’s the next Geoff Cameron, but it could also mean he’s the next Blake Camp. And Calum Mallace could provide nice depth at defensive midfielder, but will he really get off the bench?
Vancouver Whitecaps (9) – Consensus was that Darren Mattocks was the most exciting draft prospect since Steve Zakuani. And he fell right into Martin Rennie’s lap, giving the Scotsman a perfect fit for the right side of the 4-3-3. Versatile fullback Chris Estridge makes this a transformative draft for the ‘Caps.
New England Revolution (7) – Kelyn Rowe gives them another creative, intricate midfield passer to throw into the mix. Second round pick Tyler Polak gives them a chance to make up for cutting Seth Sinovic loose. And the best part is neither count against the cap since they’re both Generation adidas.
Toronto FC (5) – They took a guy who looks like a surefire contributor in Luis Silva with the fourth pick, then reached about 10 spots too high for Aaron Maund in the 12th spot. Silva doesn’t have the highest upside – he’ll be 24 by the end of the year – but should add depth. As for Maund, he’s facing an uphill battle for minutes.
Chivas USA (6) – They only had one pick, and in Casey Townsend, they may have landed the purest goal-scorer in the draft. But he’s also a year older and far more injury-prone than Chandler Hoffman, who was still on the board and had Generation adidas status to boot.
San Jose Earthquakes (4.5) – San Jose have talked about adding a creative central midfielder, after having added nearly everything else this offseason. But they passed on Enzo Martinez, opting for winger Sam Garza in the first round, then a two-way central mid and – bizarrely – a goalkeeper in the second.
D.C. United (5) – In Nick DeLeon, they get an athletic, skilled, versatile attacker. But what they really needed was another forward to add to the corps of Josh Wolff and Blake Brettschneider. Hard to understand why they passed on Hoffman – a true No. 9 who knows how to finish – when he was there for the taking.
Portland Timbers (5.5) – Andrew Jean-Baptiste isn’t ready for anything but spot duty in 2012, but he’s Generation adidas and has “MLS All-Star” potential, so he was the pick that made sense. Second-round selection Brendan King was a bit of a reach, and adds another head-down dribbler to a team full of them.
Chicago Fire (8) – Chicago crushed this draft. Perry is a big, athletic central defender who some scouts say was MLS-ready last year. Put him next to Jalil Anibaba, and that’s a nice pairing. Then they added a versatile, smart attacker in Lucky Mkosana and a solid left back in Hunter Jumper. Can’t ask for much better.
Columbus Crew (6.5) – Chances are that Ethan Finlay will be a big contributor right off the bat, filling in either up top or on the wings. Taking Aubrey Perry was a whiff with their second pick, but then they got a first-round talent at No. 29 with defensive mid Kevan George. Two out of three ain’t bad.
FC Dallas (7.5) – They had one pick and made the most of it, getting the guy who most figured was the country’s best central defender all year. Matt Hedges had a lousy Combine, but that shouldn’t have overshadowed what he did in his career previously. He’ll be George John’s replacement in Big D.
New York Red Bulls (3) – They traded out of the draft that was heavy with young, American attacking midfielders – something they’ve been looking for since 1996. Then they spent their only pick on a goalkeeper who probably won’t make the team, if what they’re saying about shopping overseas is true.
Philadelphia Union (7) – With trade rumors swirling, they suddenly gave themselves a bunch of flexibility in landing Hoffman at forward and Greg Jordan at defensive midfielder, as well as unheralded right back Raymon Gaddis. Hoffman has the chance to be a legit star. Jordan will struggle to find minutes, and Gaddis is nice depth behind Sheanon Williams.
Colorado Rapids (5) – Tony Cascio is a damn good player who would have gone top five last year and will contribute right away in 2012, but going for a Generation adidas signee in this spot might have been the smarter bet. Especially since Martinez, in particular, has the potential to transform an MLS midfield.
Seattle Sounders (4) – They spent their first round pick on a utility-man defender who projects as a career back-up in Andrew Duran, then their second round pick on a major project at forward in Babayele Sodade. Just like the majority of their selections from the last two years, these guys will find the bare minimum of meaningful playing time.
Sporting Kansas City (5) – They landed yet another speedy forward in Generation adidas attacker Dom Dwyer, then went off the charts for defender Cyprian Hedrick in the second round. It’s probably not best to question Peter Vermes given his past draft acumen, but both picks left the room a bit stunned.
Real Salt Lake (8) – Martinez will fit RSL’s possession game like a glove, addresses a need and has a Generation adidas tag to boot. Diogo de Almeida is a long shot to make the roster despite playing a position of need in left back, and Sebastian Velasquez is the draft’s biggest unknown.
Houston Dynamo (7.5) – Really, really solid work from Dom Kinnear & Co. In Colin Rolfe they get a big, strong forward who doesn’t mind doing the donkey work and should stick around in the league for a decade. And in Warren Creavalle, they have a two-footed athlete who should provide depth at both fullback spots.
LA Galaxy (7) – They get marked down a bit for not coming out of the draft with a left back – poor Todd Dunivant is going to play 55 games this year – but Meyer is a very, very smooth passer of the ball and reads the game like a pro. Kenney Walker, meanwhile, is a true hard-man at d-mid who could find a spot on the roster.
Matthew Doyle writes the Armchair Analyst column for MLSsoccer.com