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Burgundy Wave's Chris "UZ" White was one of three SB Nation bloggers to attend the MLS SuperDraft in person (Black and Red United and Brotherly Game were also there). As such, he was able to get some one-on-one time with Colorado Rapids vice president Charlie Wright to talk draft strategy.
One of the more interesting decisions the Rapids made was skipping over left back Michael Tetteh with the 18th overall pick. Tetteh was the final Generation Adidas player left and would have seemed to fit the mold of the kind of fullbacks the Rapids have been using. They instead drafted Eddie Ababio, another fullback who plays similarly.
A: You know, we had a discussion about him and he was actually the other guy we were discussing taking with that pick. He had a very challenging combine and sometimes players come in and play in different leagues, you're not sure of the quality they're bringing to the new one. The coaching staff felt that Ababio showed much better at the combine.
No team is feeling any better about the draft than the Portland Timbers. After Omar Salgado unexpectedly went No. 1, they were able to choose between Darlington Nagbe and Perry Kitchen. No matter what else happened in the draft, Timbers fans have to be happy with Nagbe.
Stumptown Footy's Geoff Gibson was able to interview Nagbe post draft. Among the issues that were touched upon was the circumstances around how he ended up not going No. 1. There was a rumor circulating that he was going to refuse to play for Vancouver. While he admitted to preferring to staying in the United States, where he's lived since moving with his family from Liberia in 2001, he vehemently denied that he'd refuse to play for Vancouver.
"I would have gladly played for Vancouver. I would have played for anyone."
Nagbe went on to talk about how excited he is to playing in front of supporters like the Timbers Army. When he was told that fans have already been coming up with chants for him, he seemed almost embarrassed.
"Never had anyone chant my name before so it's awesome that fans are making chants for me. I know that the fans are really dedicated and I'm really excited."
One of the bigger surprises of the MLS SuperDraft was Sporting Kansas City taking James Madison University product CJ Sapong with the 10th overall pick. Sapong was largely projected as a late-first rounder or a second rounder. He put up solid numbers in college, socring 37 goals and registering 21 assists in four years, but wasn't exactly playing against big-name opponents. His stock apparently rose considerably at the MLS Combine.
The Daily Wiz's Andy Edward had a chance to chat with SKC's newest addition.
The Daily Wiz: CJ, first of all, thanks for the time and congratulations on being a first round pick in the MLS draft. Could you go ahead and talk about some of the things that you already know about Sporting KC?
Well, the club I I know first of all, the staff is really great. The little time that I've been out here since getting picked, I'm feeling great vibes and I feel so comfortable right now. At the combine, they were the very first team I met with and from the get-go, the vibes were very strong. It was just a great interview. It wasn't like the normal interview per se. I was able to be myself. The questions they asked me were just questions that I felt were really comfortable. One of the questions they asked me was "what was the greatest goal I've scored in my career," and something like that, me being a forward, I just rolled over. I kind of went off on a little tangent, but I think it kind of spoke to the face of how comfortable I was with them from the get-go. It was the start of a great, great relationship, and I'm looking forward to working hard and being an impact player.
A few hours after any draft is not the right time to assess winners and losers. In the case of the MLS SuperDraft, where teams probably won't know if the guys they picked are any good for at least a year or two, it's even sillier. But that shouldn't stop us from at least trying to assess who looks like a better team today than they did yesterday and which teams look pretty much the same.
Portland Timbers: It's really hard not to like what the Portland Timbers did in their first ever SuperDraft. They didn't have to do much but wait for Darlington Nagbe to fall into their laps, but they did get the player almost everyone thought was the best in the draft. That may have only happened because of a whisper campaign that Nagbe was going to refuse to play in Vancouver (something he vehemently denied during a post-draft conference call), but how he ended up in Portland is less important than the fact that he did. I'm not sure how you assess the trade they made with the Seattle Sounders that got them the No. 11 pick because they almost immediately turned around and dealt that pick to Houston, but I'm not sure it mattes. You get the best player in the draft without holding the No. 1 pick, you win.
DC United: Again, this is really about the one big name they had just fall in their lap, but they did get the player that many people have been calling the best all-around-player in the draft. Perry Kitchen is going to start, probably in the midfield, almost right away. He's going to make DC better. Chris Korb, his Akron teammate, came later in the second round, but adding two players from arguably the greatest men's college team in history can't be bad can it? The answer is "no," in case you were wondering.
Houston Dynamo: Finally, a team that gets here by sheer force of will. The Dynamo did not start the day looking particularly strong, but they managed to come away with the player many dubbed the best pure defender in the draft and then followed that up with the one of the best scorers in the country. Kofi Sarkodie is going to help a defense that suddenly fell apart last year and Will Bruin seems to be the kind of player that is just built to score in MLS. Both players were almost universally picked among the top 5 in mock drafts. To get Sarkodie, they merely had to watch him fall to them. But to get Bruin, they wheeled and dealed and got the No. 11 pick from Portland for what appears to be allocation money that they can probably spare (considering they have tons of cap space).
Seattle Sounders: There were no doubt a lot of people scratching their heads when the Sounders traded their first-round pick, which eventually ended up in Houston's hands. But it's hard to argue when they still ended up getting Michael Tetteh with the second pick of the second round. Tetteh was widely projected as a first-rounder and was signed to a Generation Adidas contract. Whether or not you believe the Sounders when they say all five of their players were in their top 23, this pick combined with the allocation money they picked up when they dealt the No. 11 pick make this a clear win.
Vancouver Whitecaps: Look, I like Omar Salgado as much as the next guy. I think he could end up being the next great American striker. But no matter what you think of him, he's not going to be scoring buckets of goals in MLS next year. My assessment is based on improving your team, and the reality is the Whitecaps still have a major hole in the goal-scoring department despite having the top overall pick. Hopefully, they didn't make this pick based largely on the apparently unfounded belief that Nagbe would refuse to play for them. But shame on them if they bought that line of reasoning. They followed that up with taking Michael Nanchoff, a kind of undersized midfielder who is more of a "soccer player" than an athlete. Considering midfield seems to be one area where the Whitecaps already look reasonably deep, this was another pick that doesn't have "immediate improvement" written on it.
Philadelphia Union: If you didn't think Peter Nowak knew what he was doing with his goalkeeper position before, you're probably convinced of it now. This is a coach who went out of his way to acquire Chris Seitz last year, pulled the plug on him after 23 games, left him exposed in the Expansion Draft, pulled him back after one of his players was taken and then exposed him to the Re-Entry Draft where he was subsequently taken and then dealt for a draft pick. Now, we're hearing the Union are close to signing veteran goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon to a Designated Player contract. So, obviously, the Union were going to take a goalkeeper with the No. 5 pick, right? I really do wish Zac MacMath luck in Philadelphia, but Nowak is not the guy I want handling young keepers right now.
Los Angeles Galaxy: Adam Cristman do anything for ya? How about Chad Barrett? No? Well, Galaxy fans, as of today at least one of those players is probably going to be starting for you next year. To address this issue, the Galaxy drafted a 5-foot-4 midfielder for a team that has two of the best outside midfielders in the league. Just to add salt to the wound, the draft-day acquisition of Barrett also seems to complicate efforts to sign Juan Pablo Angel as Barrett made more than $200,000 last year and the Galaxy were already running out of cap space.
|Pick||Club||Player's Name||Position||School/Previous Club|
|1||Omar Salgado*||F||US U-20 National Team|
|2||Darlington Nagbe*||M||University of Akron|
|3||Perry Kitchen*||M||University of Akron/US U-20s|
|4||Zarek Valentin*||D||University of Akron/US U-20s|
|5||Zac MacMath*||GK||University of Maryland/US U-20s|
|6||AJ Soares||D||University of California|
|7||Kofi Sarkodie*||D||University of Akron|
|Michael Nanchoff*||M||University of Akron|
|9||Jalil Anibaba||D||University of North Carolina|
|10||CJ Sapong||F||James Madison University|
(from SEA1, POR2)
|Will Bruin*||F||Indiana University|
|12||Rich Balchan||D||Indiana University|
|13||Corey Hertzog*||F||Penn State University|
|Victor Estupinan||F||LDU Quito (Ecuador)|
(from SJ 4)
|Justin Meram||F||University of Michigan|
|16||Paolo Cardozo||M||Quilmes (Argentina)|
|17||Bobby Warshaw||D||Stanford University|
|18||Eddie Ababio||D||University of North Carolina|
|Pick||Club||Player's Name||Position||School/Previous Club|
|19||Jeb Brovsky||M||University of Notre Dame|
|Juan Leone Cruz||M||Southern Methodist|
(from RSL, CHV)
|Chris Taylor||D||University of Tulsa|
|23||Michael Farfan||M||University of North Carolina|
|24||Stephen McCarthy||M||University of North Carolina|
|John Rooney||M||Macclesfield Town (England)|
|26||Demitrius Omphroy||D||University of California|
|27||Servando Carrasco||M||University of California|
(from PHI, KC)
|Cole Grossman||M||Duke University|
|29||Bryan Meredith||GK||Monmouth University|
|Tyler Lassiter||D||North Carolina State University|
|Chris Korb||D||University of Akron|
|J.T. Murray||D||University of Louisville|
|33||Anthony Ampaipitakwong||M||University of Akron|
|34||Hector Jimenez||M||University of California|
|35||Charlie Campbell||M/F||University of Louisville|
|36||Colin Givens||D||Michigan State University|
|Pick||Club||Player's Name||Position||School/Previous Club|
|37||Bilal Duckett||D||University Notre Dame|
|Billy Cortes||M||University of Maryland|
|Steven Perry||F||University of Notre Dame|
|40||Jon Okafor||M||Brown University|
|41||Levi Houapeu||F||University of Maryland, Baltimore County|
|42||Ryan Kinne||M/F||Monmouth University|
|Matt Gold||D||The Ohio State University|
(from COL, TOR)
|Junior Burgos||M||Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo|
|45||Jason Herrick||F||University of Maryland|
|46||Konrad Warzycha||M||The Ohio State University|
|47||Alex Caskey||M||Davidson College|
|48||Bernardo Anor||M||University of South Florida|
(from NY, CHI5)
|Joao Plata||M||LDU Quito|
(from RSL, LA, RSL, LA6)
|Joe Willis||GK||University of Denver|
|Davis Paul||F||University of California|
|Jarad vanSchaik||M||University of Portland|
|53||Scott Gordon||D||Lynn University|
|Alan Koger||F||College of William & Mary|
* Generation adidas
1 SEA trade No. 11 overall selection in 2011 and international spot (1 season) to POR for No. 20 selection in 2011 and allocation amount.
2 POR trade No. 11 overall selection acquired in trade with SEA to HOU for allocation amount.
3 RSL trade No. 14 overall selection in 2011 to CHV for allocation amount.
4 SJ trade No. 15 overall selection and allocation amount to CLB for Steven Lenhart.
5 Chicago trade #49 pick to Toronto for a player to be named later.
6 The LA Galaxy trade No. 50 overall pick in the #MLSSuperDraft to D.C. United for United’s two 1st-round picks in Supplemental Draft.
While not ever meant to be a scientific study, it's still kinda fun to go back and look at some of the bigger mock drafts and see how they came out. Not trying to be all judgmental here, but we all got it pretty wrong. Suffice it to say, MLS is still looking for its Todd McShay or Mel Kiper
Of the six mock drafts I looked at, MLSsoccer.com's Travis Clark was the only prognosticator to get more than one pick exactly right. And even two his three correct picks were aided by trades. WV Hooligan's Drew Epperley correctly named 14 of the 18 players to be picked in the first round, better than any of the other five. Soccer by Ives was the only source that managed to even have all 18 of their first-round picks selected in the first three rounds.
The reality is any mock draft should be seen more as a fun exercise than an accurate depiction of what might happen, but that goes doubly for MLS. Most of the people mocking these drafts have, at best, seen the players they're talking about a handful of times. For the most part, they're basing their opinions on what others have said. That's not to say there's anything wrong with that, but it is the way it is.
Who was the best? It's really hard to say. I didn't actually run the numbers to find out the average difference between predicted spot and actual spot, but since so many players didn't even get picked that would probably be something better left until after the Supplemental Draft. Everyone had a few doozies, but Epperley, Clark and Ives seemed to have the fewest.
To be fair, let's look at us first. While we did nail the first three players to be chosen - the only one of the six to do so - we had them all in the wrong order. We had Darlington Nagbe going No. 1, Perry Kitchen at No. 2 and Omar Salgado at No. 3. We didn't actually nail a single first-round pick, but we did correctly project the Houston Dynamo getting Will Bruin. Problem is, we had him going at No. 7 and he was actually acquired four picks later after a trade.
Mocked first rounders that actually went in first round: 11. Biggest first-round miss: Ashley McInnes, projected as the No. 17 pick still hasn't been drafted after the third round.
Epperley started out as strong as anyone, nailing the No. 2 pick being Nagbe. But, that was the last pick he got right in the first round. There were some relatively close calls like being only two picks off on little-know Paolo Cardozo, but that was the closest he got after Nagbe.
Mocked first rounders that actually went in first round: 14. Biggest first-round miss: Michael Boxall, he had him going to the Colorado Rapids at No. 18 and he still hasn't been picked after the third round.
Give him credit, Borg was among those who saw Nagbe falling out of the top spot and into the laps of the Portland Timbers. After that, though, it's not so pretty. He does deserve credit for being one of the few prognosticators to see Bobby Warshaw as a first-rounder, coming within one of spot of nailing that one.
Mocked first rounders that actually went in first round: 12. Biggest first-round miss(es): He had some doozies. He had two players, Curtis Ushedo and Greg King, that didn't get picked in the first three rounds. Ushedo he had going at No. 8. His No. 7 pick, Joao Plato didn't get picked until No. 49.
He was one of the many who thought Nagbe was still going to go No. 1, so that kind of ruined his shot at looking smart early, but he did nail AJ Soares going to the New England Revolution at No. 6. That was the only pick he got right, but so far that's the lowest pick anyone nailed absolutely perfectly.
Mocked first rounders that actually went in first round: 11. Biggest first-round miss: Daniel Keat, he had the Dartmouth midfielder as his No. 10 overall pick, but he didn't get picked in the first three rounds.
Another person who gets credit for picking Nagbe second. He's also one of the few to get three pick right, although his second and third ones come with asterisks. He nailed Victor Estupinan going No. 14, but it was Chivas USA and not Real Salt Lake who made the pick. He also nailed Michael Farfan at No. 15, but it was to the Columbus Crew and not the San Jose Earthquakes. Still those are the lowest picks anyone nailed.
Mocked first rounders that actually went in first round: 13. Biggest first-round miss: Boxall, who apparently was a popular first-round choice to fall dramatically.
Nagbe was his No. 2 pick, so he gets credit for that. But the next closest he came to nailing a pick was predicting Justin Meram would go one pick earlier than his actual slot of No. 15. It should be noted that of the drafts we examined, he had Omar Salgado going the lowest, at No. 10.
Mocked first rounder that actually went in first round: 13. Biggest first-round miss(es): All of his players were at least picked in the first two rounds, which is better than anyone else. But he did have Cole Grossman going 20 picks earlier than he actually did and Anthony Ampaipitakwong went 22 spots later.
It's obviously way too early to figure out who the winners and losers of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft's first round, but there is still plenty to talk about. The draft started out with a huge surprise, as the Vancouver Whitecaps did something almost completely unexpected by making 17-year-old Omar Salgado the first pick of the draft. Some mock drafters had Salgado going as low as Nos. 7 or 8, and almost no one had him going before No. 3.
In Salgado, the Whitecaps have a player that has all the physical tools to be one of the next great American strikers, but also one who has shown little ability to find the back of the net while playing for the Chivas reserve team. At 6-foot-4, 170 pounds and left-footed, he certainly presents a unique body frame. Chances are, he won't play much his rookie year, but if he is able to develop in Vancouver, was almost universally believed to have the highest upside.
The next big surprise of the draft was Zac MacMath going to the Philadelphia Union with the No. 5 selection. MacMath was almost universally believed to be the top goalkeeper available in the draft, but was not expected by many to go in the top 10. The reason for this belief is mostly based on the fact that so few coaches are willing to roll the dice with young goalkeepers. With Faryd Mondragon rumored to be close to signing with the Union, little will be expected of MacMath early in his career. In two or three years, this pick may end up being lauded as one of the best.
MacMath's selection seemed to have a bit of a trickle-down effect, as shortly after the Seattle Sounders traded their first-round pick to the Portland Timbers for the second pick of the second round and allocation money. The Timbers eventually traded that pick to the Houston Dynamo, who used the No. 11 pick on Indiana Will Bruin.
The Dynamo, it should be said, came out of the first round looking very good. In addition to Bruin, believed by some to be the top forward available in the entire draft, the Dynamo also got Kofi Sarkodie with the No. 7 overall pick. Sarkodie was believed by some to be the best defensive player in the draft.
Sarkodie was one of five Akron players to be selected in the first round, a MLS record. He joined overall picks Nos. 2-4 Darlington Nagbe, Perry Kitchen and Zarek Valentin and No. 8 overall selection Michael Nanchoff. Akron teammates Anthony Ampaipitakwong and Chris Korb are also believed to be likely second round picks.
Two more trades happened during the first round. Chivas USA acquired the No. 14 pick from Real Salt Lake and used it on Victor Estupina. The Columbus Crew picked up the No. 15 overall pick from the San Jose Earthquakes and used it on Justin Meram.
The Colorado Rapids didn't have a lot of needs heading into the draft and little will be expected immediately out of the player they picked with the final pick of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Eddie Ababio. The defensive player does not have a clear position at the MLS level and could play fullback, center back or defensive midfielder.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound University of North Carolina product scored 13 goals and had 12 assists during his four-year collegiate career. He'll have plenty of similarly skilled players to learn from for the defending MLS Cup champions. Anthony Wallace and Kosuke Kimura are similar players and will almost certainly earn starting spots once again.
FC Dallas is coming off the most successful year in franchise history, but finds themselves needing to fill several holes created by the losses of Dax McCarty, Atiba Harris and Jeff Cunningham. Stanford defender Bobby Warshaw does not necessarily address any of those losses, but he was a defender that a lot of people liked in college.
Despite playing a defensive role, he scored 18 goals over his four-year career in which he started every game he played. He was lauded as being a vocal team leader at Stanford and will likely compete for a backup spot with the defending Western Conference champions.
Fresh off losing Edson Buddle to Europe, the Los Angeles Galaxy selected Paolo Cardozo, a Uruguayan midfielder. Like the other foreigners in the draft, little is known about him outside of how he performed in the MLS Combine.
Despite playing well at the combine, there are some significant concerns about Cardozo's size. He stands just 5-foot-4, the smallest players in this year's draft pool. He was signed as a youth by Argentine power River Plate and has been at Quilmes the last two years.
Chances are, he won't be expected to play much right out of the gate and is more of a high-upside gamble by the Galaxy, who acquired Chad Barrett in a trade earlier in the day.
Another pick, another trade. The Columbus Crew made the fifth trade of the day, acquiring the No. 15 overall pick from the San Jose Earthquakes and picking Justin Meram. The University of Michigan forward scored 17 goals and registered eight assists during 23 games.
Prior to transferring to Michigan as a junior, he scored 51 goals and had 30 assists in 52 games at Yavapai College. During his two-year Michigan career, he continued to perform at a high level, scoring 24 goals and registering 14 assists in 41 games.
With so many players leaving this offseason, Meram is a player that will likely be given a chance to contribute almost right away.
Chivas USA was the fourth team to acquire a first-round pick via draft today, and used the No. 14 overall pick to select Victor Estupinan, a forward from Ecuador. Not much was known about him prior to his signing with MLS and before he showed at the MLS Combine.
At the combine, Estupinan was among the more impressive players. Prior to that, he led the reserve squad of Quito to their championship and led the reserves in scoring.
Real Salt Lake was the original owners of the pick, but did what many expected of them and traded out of the position. RSL has not always seen the draft as the way they want to build their team, and said they were unlikely to find a player that could help right away at this point in the draft.
The New York Red Bulls may have found the man to replace Juan Pablo Angel, at least in the long term. With the No. 13 pick, the Red Bulls selected Corey Hertzog, a forward out of Penn State who some mock drafts had going in the top five.
Hertzog scored 20 goals and had six assists in 22 matches during his senior year. He led the NCAA in goals and points (46), while earning second-team All America honors.
Hertzog is unlikely to start right away, but could form a nice longterm partnership with the likes of Juan Agudelo. The Philadelphia Union had attempted to sign Hertzog as a Homegrown Player, but were rebuffed by the league in their efforts.
With players like Corey Hertzog still available, the Columbus Crew made a bit of a head-scratching selection by taking Indiana defender Rich Balchan with the No. 12 overall pick. Balchan was a four-year starter at Indiana, a program that has now had 33 players selected in MLS draft history. That total is more than all but four schools.
The Houston Dynamo acquired the No. 11 overall pick for allocation money from the Portland Timbers, who themselves had acquired the pick for allocation money from the Seattle Sounders, and selected Will Bruin. The Indiana forward who was signed to a Generation Adidas contract and is one the U-20 United States National Team was once believed to be in the mix for a top 3 selection.
The 6-foot-2, 194-pounder was among the larger players in the draft pool and put up ridiculous scoring numbers during his junior year. In just 20 matches, Bruin scored 18 goals and had five assists while doing battle in the always tough Big 10. In his three-year career, Bruin scored 33 goals and registered nine assists.
The Dynamo will almost certainly give Bruin a chance to start and, if nothing else, will be allowed to study under Brian Ching, a player that has a similar skillset. The Dynamo had already selected Kofi Sarkodie, a defender with the No. 7 pick.
CJ Sapong did not get a lot of attention while playing at James Madison University, but putting up numbers like he did proved too difficult for Sporting Kansas City to ignore. The former Wizards took the 6-foot-1, 185-pound forward with the No. 10 overall pick.
Whether or not he's allowed to play right away, SKC no doubt has visions of Sapong forming a longterm partnership with Teal Bunbury. Sapong scored 37 goals during his four-year college career, including 12 goals and nine assists in just 18 games his senior year. Sapong continued to impress at the combine, where he was lauded as one of the top players.
More than any other player, Jalil Anibaba's stock was helped immensely by the MLS Combine. The Chicago Fire apparently were impressed, as he ended up being their pick at the No. 9 spot. The University of North Carolina product was named the combine's top player.
The center back is more of a shutdown defender and has the physical presence for it. He's 6-foot-0 and 175 pounds and has been on the U-18 and U-20 United States youth teams.
The Fire are in dire need of players at this point, having lost both of their starting center backs during the offseason. Anibaba will likely start almost right away.
Michael Nanchoff became the fifth Akron player to be picked in the first round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, a record. The Vancouver Whitecaps selected a somewhat undersized midfielder, who has been lauded for his soccer mind. Nanchoff is 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds, scoring 10 goals and had nine assists in 25 matches during his junior year at Akron.
Nanchoff is almost the polar opposite of Omar Salgado, who the Whitecaps took with the first overall pick. While Salgado is most physical specimen with little performance data to show for it, Nanchoff has played well above his physical stature might suggest. He went from not starting a single game his freshman year to scoring five goals and registering 11 assists in 20 games his sophomore year to breaking out his junior year. That senior year earned him a Generation Adidas contract and now a likely starting spot in MLS.
Okay, this is getting embarrassing. It was bad enough that none of the media had any idea that Omar Salgado was the first overall pick 48 hours ago. It turns out that Major League Soccer's commissioner didn't know that Omar Salgado was the first overall pick as of the start of the draft. Below is one of the most incredible sports-related things I have ever seen on the internet.
I am absolutely beside myself. I cannot believe that this is a real thing that actually happened in real life. Don Garber, the commissioner of MLS and the man who announced that Omar Salgado was the first overall pick, tweeted out that Darlington Nagbe was the first overall pick. This tweet has since been deleted by The Don, but we can has screencaps, so the embarrassment is forever.
Coming off the first playoff-less year since moving to Houston, the Dynamo made a move to shore up a defense that yielded 49 goals last season. Their defense was the second worst in MLS last year, and Sarkodie will be given a chance to start right away.
He'll most likely be slotted at right back, where he'll use his world-class speed to help stretch the field. Sarkodie had a huge junior year, scoring eight goals and registered six assists for Akron.
Sarkodie is not a huge player, standing 5-foot-9 and weighing just 155 pounds, but Akron coach Caleb Porter insisted that he was one of the best defensive players he ever coached.
AJ Soares was the first senior selected in the MLS SuperDraft, as the New England Revolution made him the No. 6 overall pick. Chances are, Steve Nicol saw a player that could help his team immediately, as the Revolution are coming off their first playoff-less season during the last nine years.
Soares is expected to play center back in MLS and has shown flashes of offensive ability during his four years at Cal. He scored 10 goals and has four assists, including five goals his senior year.
Breaking a three-pick trend, the Philadelphia Union selected Maryland product Zac MacMath with the fifth overall pick. The 19-year-old goalkeeper is unlikely to be expected to start right away, as the Union are reportedly close to agreeing to a contract with former FC Koln goalkeeper Faryd Mandragon. MacMath will likely be given a chance to learn under the 39-year-old.
If MacMath is expected to play, however, he is unlikely to lead his team to the playoffs anytime soon. No goalkeeper younger than 23 has ever led their team to the playoffs, and goalkeepers younger than 25 often struggle early in their careeers.
MacMath, though, comes to MLS with as much pedigree as any keeper. He registered shutouts in 34 of his 64 matches during three seasons at Maryland and has been a starter for U.S. youth teams for several years.
Chivas USA went with the safer, more likely to contribute right away player in Zarek Valentin over Akron teammate Kofie Sarkodie. With former two-time MLS Defensive Player of the Year Robin Fraser the new coach at Chivas, there was little question a defensive player would go here.
Valentin will almost certainly start camp as a starter at fullback. His passing has been considered one of his top assets, although he had just one assist during two years at Akron.
Chivas USA was probably somewhat impressed by the fact that Valentin speaks fluent Spanish and has been on the United States youth teams ever since U-15.
Personally, I'm a fan of picking the best player available, regardless of need and position. At third overall, Perry Kitchen was the best player available. In my opinion, he can start at defensive midfield in MLS tomorrow and he was the best player in the draft. When the best player in the draft falls to you at No. 3, you have to pick him.
The problem with D.C. picking Kitchen is that the center of midfield, particularly defensive or box-to-box midfielders, is the only position where D.C. is pretty set. The Black and Red need a lot of help right now, but Clyde Simms and Dax McCarty could be staples of an MLS Cup contender. Kitchen is able to play along the back line, but I think that's a waste of his talents. He's a defensive midfielder, and a great one.
So, how does D.C. fit all three of Kitchen, Simms, and McCarty into their team? Simply put, they would need to acquire a complete center forward...or hope Joseph Ngwenya magically got really good. Some kind of 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1 variation with McCarty playing in front of Kitchen and Simms, two of Santino Quaranta, Andy Najar, and Chris Pontius out wide and a better forward than they have now up top sounds like something that could work really well.
A lot of D.C. fans won't like that their team didn't fill a need with the third overall draft pick, but they should be happy that their team took the best player available. Their midfield now looks absolutely rock solid.
For several weeks, we've been hearing that Perry Kitchen had as high an upside as any player in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. The defensive midfielder/center back is a physical specimen, showcasing athletic ability that had scouts drooling. Despite playing a defensive position at Akron, he scored six goals in his freshman year.
Not yet 19, DC United has a player that has plenty of room to grow. He'll likely play whatever position best suits him, as opposed to wherever he's needed. DC United is coming off one of the worst seasons in MLS history, scoring just 21 goals and posting a -26 goal difference.
Kitchen could potentially help on both ends. He should be a stout defensive player, while still offering some offensive ability on set pieces.
With the one-time consensus No. 1 draft pick suddenly available, the Portland Timbers wasted little time making Darlington Nagbe the second overall selection. Nagbe is the reigning Hermann Award winner and scored 19 goals and had 19 assists during his three years at Akron, which won the school's first-ever national championship last year.
Nagbe will likely be allowed to compete for a starting spot right away, alongside Kenny Cooper. Nagbe will have a fair amount of competition for that spot, though, as the Timbers already have Bright Dike and Eddie Johnson, two players who showed well in USSF-Division 2 last season.
Up until a few days ago, Nagbe was believed to be the clear No. 1 pick. But he skipped the MLS Combine and rumors had begun to circulate that he did not want to play in Canada.
All week we heard the same things over and over. Darlington Nagbe. Nagbe, Nagbe, Nagbe. Maybe Perry Kitchen, but probably Nagbe. Before the draft, there were grumblings all over the interwebs that Vancouver was going to throw a wrench into things by picking Omar Salgado. I didn't really believe it. I wanted to, because I think that Darlington Nagbe is slightly overrated, but it seemed like he was the consensus No. 1 pick. Also, as good as Salgado is, he's not going to contribute next year...or even next year, maybe. I'm pretty shocked, and Taylor Twellman is making it clear on television that he is as well.
So, this begs the question: Where were you on that one, non-existent Todd McShay of soccer?!? Absolutely no one called Salgado as the No. 1 pick well before the draft. Some of the "insiders" figured this out last night and word had spread around to a lot of people an hour before the draft, but that's extremely short notice for a No. 1 pick.
Can you imagine if something like this happened in the NFL? What if there was a media consensus that someone was the first overall pick and then the first overall pick was actually a player who was a consensus mid-first rounder? Todd McShay, Mel Kiper, Mike Mayock, etc. would probably lose their jobs. It would be beyond outrageous.
Unfortunately, right now, most of the people who analyze the MLS SuperDraft are people who follow the league all year, then become draft analysts after doing three weeks of research and maybe watching each of the top players two or three times. We need a Todd McShay or Mel Kiper. Make it happen, Worldwide Leader.
The Vancouver Whitecaps shocked the MLS world with the first pick of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, selecting 17-year-old, left-footed forward Omar Salgado. The consensus among those following the draft was that one of two Akron teammates, Perry Kitchen or Darlington Nagbe, would be the top selection.
With this pick, Vancouver is obviously going with high upside over immediate impact. Salgado has a lot of room to fill out his 6-foot-4 frame, as he currently weighs just 170 pounds. He most recently was in the Chivas de Guadalajara youth system, but was jettisoned when he chose to represent the United States in international competition, rather than Mexico.
With the 2011 MLS SuperDraft almost here, there are still questions around who the Vancouver Whitecaps will take with the No. 1 pick or if they'll even be the one making it. Only a few days ago, Akron forward Darlington Nagbe was widely believed to be the obvious first player taken. After skipping the combine, that now seems to be in question as more and more mock drafts have his Akron teammate Perry Kitchen going first. The Whitecaps have also let it be known that they are considering trading the pick.
Either way, it would qualify as a significant surprise if they weren't the two players off the board. Almost everyone also seems to be in agreement that Indiana forward Will Bruin and Akron defender Kofi Sarkodie will be the next two players picked. After that, though, it gets significantly more interesting. The generally accepted theory for this is that there are somewhat significant questions about the rest of the players.
"Everybody’s pretty clear about the guys at the very top, the top five or so, and after that it gets pretty average, pretty quickly," Real Salt Lake general manager Garth Lagerway said. "I think the one up side may be that this draft will stay ‘average’ for longer than some other drafts have."
Center backs Jalil Anibaba and AJ Soares, for instance, are likely to be able to contribute almost right away, but don't offer the upside of some of the other players that could go this early. Omar Salgado, a 17-year-old, left-footed forward, seems like a future star-in-the-making, but almost no one thinks he'll be able to contribute much for a few more years.
There are also a host of intriguing internationals, several of whom made quite an impression at the MLS Combine. Attacking players Victor Estupiñan, Joao Plata and Paolo Cardozo have all been projected as relatively early picks and even John Rooney has found his way into a few first rounds of mock drafts.
Those internationals, though, pose a different kind of risk. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid pointed out that there's a reason each one of those players have found their way into the draft, and it's not because they are proven commodities.
"It’s a little easier for us with the college players because we have seen them play in college as well as here and so sometimes you throw out one or the other," he said. "So with the internationals we are only really seeing them here. But there are a couple that have stood out, done very well and looked like they could have a role in the future of MLS."
Further complicating matters is the last-minute decisions by several teams to make Homegrown Player offers. The Dynamo signed Josue Soto after the SMU product had already participated in the combine and Jonathan Top just signed with FC Dallas. New York Red Bulls academy product Matt Kassel is also reportedly still trying to work out a deal.
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