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The closest thing to a bright side with White is that, thanks to a chronically bad knee, he is injured often enough that you don't have to watch him play too much. There is nothing to like about O'Brian White and I was in true despair when the Whitecaps selected him.
Luckily, Massey works some odd hours and went to bed shortly after the draft.
Four hours later, I woke up and everything was okay again. The useless players were, almost to a man, gone. In their place came allocation money, international spots, and even a draft pick. We had taken liabilities and turned them into assets. The whole affair wound up being quite cunning, and I practically tittered with glee.
With the trades of White, Alejandro Moreno, Alan Gordon and Sanna Nyassi in the rearview mirror, Massey came away feeling pretty good about the Whitecaps' efforts. They don't have many actual bodies to show for it - only seven players are currently under contract and one of them may not be allowed to join them next year - but they do have plenty of bullets to fire in the coming months.
Say this for the Vancouver Whitecaps: They are definitely intent on making the offseason interesting.
That leaves the Whitecaps with just seven players currently under contract - only five of which were picked in the Expansion Draft and one who is unlikely to play in MLS next season (Cody Arnoux is signed, but it's still unclear whether MLS will approve his contract).
The good news is the Whitecaps still have around $2 million of cap space to fill out their roster. The bad news is they still have about 20 senior roster spots to fill, as well as a significant number of starters.
It appears the Whitecaps are much more interested in building their roster through the MLS SuperDraft, signing their former Division 2 players and through whatever passes as the open market in MLS.
If past SuperDrafts are any indication, that No. 8 pick is not exactly guaranteed to produce immediately. Just one of the past five No. 8 picks has played significant minutes his rookie season (Sporting Kansas City Mat Besler in 2009).
Toronto FC, meanwhile, gets a player who is just 23 years old and finally started to develop some of the promise he has shown since playing for U.S. youth international teams.
"We are very happy to be able to bring Nathan to the club," said Earl Cochrane, Toronto FC interim director of soccer. "He is a player who will be able to make an immediate impact in our team next season, but is also young enough to play a role here in the long term. We studied the options that would likely be available to us with our first round pick in the MLS SuperDraft and made the decision that the addition of Nathan is of greater benefit to our squad."
Dax McCarty was widely seen to be as the prize of the MLS Expansion Draft. So you'd think DC United fans would be pretty happy at acquiring his services for the cost of a defender who has battled injury problems and a fourth-round pick. Just for good measure, United also got some allocation money thrown in.
On the merits of the trade, Black And Red United's Martin Shatzer sees it as a pretty even deal.
But there's another aspect of the deal that is bothering him.
As Charlie Boehm suggested earlier, the next head coach was supposed to be the one deciding between Wallace and Marc Burch for the left back position. The next head coach may have elected to move Wallace back into central midfield instead, where he had some success in 2009. Or the next head coach may have had a great plan in mind for utilizing Branko Boskovic and Clyde Simms together in central midfield without the need for McCarty. Or the next head coach may be set in his preference for running a diamond 4-4-2 with a true No. 10 in the middle. United's current roster is very prohibitive to that formation.
Similarly, SB Nation/Seattle's Kirsten Schlewitz was not exactly enthused when the Seattle Sounders acquired White's rights in a trade on Wednesday, citing the presence of seemingly more qualified forwards already on the roster.
Forgive me for thinking that sounds a lot like Blaise Nkufo. Or even Nate Jaqua. What are we missing, Seattle? Of course, it could just be that the Sounders are trying to add depth to a squad that wants to advance from the CONCACAF group stages, win the Open Cup for the third year running, and secure an MLS title.
White has not been great during parts of two seasons in MLS, but he hasn't been totally terrible either. He's scored four goals in about 1,500 minutes and is just 24 years old.
Considering the Sounders only had to give up an undisclosed amount of allocation money, the trade does not seem like a huge risk.
Sporting Kansas City made it all the way to the 18th pick of the MLS Expansion Draft without losing a player, and when they finally did, it was defender Jonathan Leathers.
That the only player the former Wizards lost was a backup defender that was not guaranteed to be a starter next year, came as quite a relief to the Daily Wiz's Andy Edwards.
I liked Leathers as a player, no doubt. But, his role on the team is one that can be filled in far more easily than a starting center back, like (Shavar) Thomas. (Chance) Myers has age (only 22) on his side and still has untapped potential. Whether or not he realizes that potential ever, remains to be seen. But, with Leathers, you kind of already knew what he was.
Edwards says the key to Thomas' success will be the ability to find a more athletic to pair with him. Jimmy Conrad, the current starter at centerback, is unlikely to be that person.
It has been speculated that Sporting KC is pursuing a European player and a centerback would potentially be a good fit.
Let's see if we can rundown what has happened in the past few hours since the end of the MLS Expansion Draft:
Assuming this doesn't change in the next few minutes (and it probably will), the short version of what has happened is that the Timbers and Whitecaps drafted 20 players in the Expansion Draft, two of whom were always unlikely to play in MLS this year. Of those 20, seven have already been traded.
The last three Expansion Drafts have been pretty quiet on the trade front as both those teams went to camp with most of their players. The last team to be so active with its Expansion Draft players was Toronto FC, who came to camp with just one of the 10 players they picked and didn't finish the season with any of them.
The jewel of the Expansion Draft didn't spend much time with his new team.
Within hours of making Dax McCarty the first overall pick, the Timbers sent him and allocation money to DC United in exchange for 22-year-old defender Rodney Wallace and the second of their two fourth-round picks in the upcoming SuperDraft.
Wallace was the sixth overall pick in the 2009 SuperDraft and has an impressive rookie season, scoring three goals and assisting on three others while earning 25 starts and playing 2,265 mintues.
He started the 2010 season well with two assists in 11 matches, but a knee injury ultimately ended his season early.
The biggest advantage for the Timbers in this deal is the potential savings. Based on last year's salaries, this should save the Timbers an additional $60,000 against the cap.
In Portland, Wallace could potentially be reunited with Jordan Graye, who was his teammate at DC United.
The Whitecaps have also indicated they are unlikely to open the season with all the players they selected in the Expansion Draft.
Two decidedly different strategies for building a team were on display during Tuesday's MLS Expansion Draft.
The Timbers opted to draft significantly less experienced players, perhaps with great upside potential, while the Whitecaps went with a decidedly more grizzled (and well compensated) group of players.
Timbers: An Eye on 2013 or Just Confident?
After making the Dax McCarty the first pick of the Expansion Draft, the Timbers only drafted three more players with significant MLS playing time — two of which are highly unlikely to suit for the Timbers next season.
The selections of U.S. internationals Robbie Findley and Jonathan Bornstein were reasonably good symbols of what the Timbers seemed to be trying to accomplish with this draft. Bornstein will be playing in the Mexican Primera next season, while Findley has expressed a strong desire to leave MLS. But the Timbers will retain the rights to both players — assuming they make qualifying offers — if they ever choose to return to the league. In both cases, the Timbers acquired players who will cost them nothing now, but could pay huge dividends in the future.
The only other players the Timbers drafted with as many as 3,300 minutes of MLS playing time were McCarty (6,380) and Arturo Alvarez (9,365), and neither will be older than 25 next season.
In fact, with an average age of 24.1, the Timbers draft class was the youngest of any in the modern era (not counting 1998). Bornstein was the only player they picked older than 25. As a result, this was also a particularly cheap group of players. If we assume neither Bornstein nor Findley will be signed at the start of the next year, this group of players was paid about $625,000 in guaranteed compensation next year.
Taken in conjunction with their acquisition of some allocation money from the Los Angeles Galaxy in exchange for an international roster slot, this all seems to indicate an intention to be active in the offseason. Assuming none of the four players the Timbers signed from USSF D-2 are going to break the bank, the Timbers could have at least $1.7 million of cap space and a significant amount of allocation money to lure players with.
As of today, the Timbers have a starting XI that would likely look like this:
That's probably not a lineup that is going to win a lot of matches at the MLS level right now, but does have lots of room to grow.
Overall grade: Incomplete. Success or failure of this draft is really predicated on moves both before and after.
Whitecaps: Winning Now is Job No. 1
While the Timbers were busy building the youngest ever expansion draft class, the Whitecaps were drafting the oldest. With an average age of 26.8 and more than 73,000 minutes of MLS playing time, they drafted a team that has a significant amount of experience.
Among the notable veterans they took were goalkeeper Joe Cannon (35) and forwards Alejandro Moreno (31) and Alan Gordon (29). All three earned significant starting minutes last year and will almost certainly see significant minutes in the Whitecaps inaugural campaign.
Even among the younger players they drafted, all of them have spent significant portions of their careers as starters. Sanna Nyassi (21) started 14 matches last year, Nathan Sturgis (23) started 16 games last year and Atiba Harris (25) has already played more than 9,000 regular season minutes. No player they picked has played fewer than 1,500 career minutes.
Of course, this also comes at a price. Assuming most of the players don't agree to significant pay cuts and Jay DeMerit is signed for at least $250,000, there's probably about $1.1 million already eaten up by the 11 players on their roster.
Putting a lineup together based on this group would be pretty tough, but we can safely assume the Whitecaps have five to seven players who could start for at least half of the teams. DeMerit should be among the better centerbacks. Cannon should have at least another season in him. Nyassi, Harris and Sturgis all started for playoff teams. Shea Salinas, Moreno, Gordon, O'Brian White, John Thorrington and Jonathan Leathers should all compete for significant minutes no matter which other players the Whitecaps sign.
Overall grade: B-. This could be a competitive MLS team, and they have the makings of a very solid midfield, but they may have painted themselves into a corner.
No. 19 (Timbers): Arturo Alvarez. The former Earthquake has proven to be a capable scorer, notching at least three goals in the past five seasons.
No. 20 (Whitecaps): John Thorrington. Saw a big decrease in playing time this season, but is a five-year MLS veteran who scored five goals in 2008.
Summary of selected players
Timbers: Dax McCarty (MF), Eric Brunner (DF), Adam Moffat (MF), Anthony Wallace (DF), David Horst (DF), Robbie Findley (FW), Peter Lowry (MF), Jonathan Bornstein (DF), Jordan Graye (DF), Arturo Alvarez (FW). Defenders (5), Midfielders (3), Forwards (2).
Whitecaps: Sanna Nyass (MF), Atiba Harris (MF), Nathan Sturgis (MF), Shea Salinas (MF), Alan Gordon (FW), O'Brian White (FW), Alejandro Moreno (FW), Joe Cannon (GK), Jonathan Leathers (DF), John Thorrington (MF). Defenders (1), Midfielders (5), Forwards (3), Goalkeepers (1).
No. 9 (Timbers): David Horst. A central defender who has only played a total of three games during the past three seasons, including none during the regular season last year. Real Salt Lake protects Collen Warner.
No. 10 (Whitecaps): Alan Gordon. The Chivas USA forward has had some reasonable level of success, scoring 17 goals in the past five seasons. Mariano Trujillo was pulled back by Chivas USA.
No. 11 (Timbers): Robbie Findley. The Real Salt Lake forward has announced his intentions to play elsewhere this season, but has expressed a willingness to come back to MLS. It's a medium-risk, high-reward pick as Findley is a
No. 12 (Whitcaps): O'Brian White. The Toronto FC forward recently upset many Canadian fans by choosing to train with the Jamaican national team. Julian de Guzman pulled back.
No. 13 (Timbers) Peter Lowry. Dasan Robinson protected by Fire.
No. 14 (Whitecaps) Alejandro Moreno. The veteran forward has now been selected in two straight Expansion Drafts. All Union players off the board.
No. 15 (Timbers) Jonathan Bornstein. The Timbers select the rights to the left back who is already signed with Tigres of La Primera. All Chivas now protected.
No. 16 (Whitecaps) Joe Cannon. The San Jose goalkeeper lost his starting role to Jon Busch last season. Tim Ward protected by Earthquakes
McCarty has played mostly as a central midfielder and has carved out a niche as a playmaker, notching 15 assists in the past three seasons. FC Dallas pulled back their captain, Daniel Hernandez, a 34-year-old who was not in much danger of getting selected.
No. 2 pick (Vancouver Whitecaps): Sanna Nyassi, wide midfielder. Started 14 games this season and broke out toward the end of the season, scoring a pair of late-season goals and two in the U.S. Open Cup final. The Sounders then protected center back Patrick Ianni
No. 4 picks (Vancouver Whitecaps): Atiba Harris. Had a breakout season, scoring four goals and starting 28 games. No more FC Dallas players can be taken
No. 5 pick (Portland Timbers): Adam Moffat. A regular starter in the central midfield for the Crew, making 23 starts and scoring two goals. No more Crew players can be taken.
No. 6 pick (Whitecaps): Nathan Sturgis. Emerged as a starter in the central midfield this year, making 16 starts as a 23-year-old No more Sounders can be taken.
No. 8 pick (Whitecaps): Shea Salinas. A wide midfielder that has now been taken in two successive Expansion Drafts. Philadelphia Union protect Chris Seitz.
The Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps have already started signing players, but today we will learn much more about what they intend to accomplish during the first season in MLS.
If past drafts are any indication, they'll draft mostly players with an average of about three years of MLS experience and an average age of 25 years old.
If they intend to be competitive, they'll also draft players they intend to be on their roster to start the season. It's hard to know exactly what Toronto FC was thinking when they made their choices, but just one player they picked started the season on their roster and Paulo Nagamura only played 354 minutes with them in 2007 before being traded. TFC also finished with just 25 points, the worst of the past four expansion teams.
All three of those teams took at least one player with five years of experience and no more than five with fewer than three years of experience.
The Sounders, easily the most successful of the recent expansion teams, drafted three players with fewer than three years of experience and three players with at least five years of experience. Seven of the players they drafted were still with the team at the end of their second season.
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