Thursday, January 14, 2010

MLS Draft Day

Today is the MLS SuperDraft--read just plain draft--for college players. Taking place in Philadelphia, the MLS Draft (I refuse to call it a "SuperDraft") is poised to bring in another very talented pool of players. To be sure, the 2010 class is going to have do well to compare with the 2009 class, a class that suprassed every draft class by a country mile. Matching the performance would be good start.

The expansion Philadelphia Union will get the first pick and it is pretty much a done deal that the upstarts will select Oregon State's Congolese striker Danny Mwanga.

The struggling New York Red Bulls have the second selection and they will probably take the best player in the draft in Virginia's Tony Tchani. Sure, they could have taken just about anyone, but lets face it, after last year's debacle, the Red Bulls need to take the best player period and Tchani looked the best in the MLS combine.

The third overall pick goes to San Jose Earthquakes, where Frank Yallop needs a lot of help along the spine of his team. Wake Forest standout and U.S. U-20 player Ike Opara should start looking for his way to San Jose.

Fourth up is Kansas City Wizards, Akron striker Teal Burnbury is likely to be selected for the Wizards. But one has to wonder if Coach Peter Vermes, a defender himself, might not take a defender and take a page from Bruce Arena, thinking the best way to improve his team is to stop shipping goals. But unlike last year's draft class, I don't see a lot of truly standout defenders.

Fifth overall pick will do to FC Dallas. The Hoops need someone who can provide service to Jeff Cunningham, and will be looking for a strong, playmaking midfielder. I would think Akron's Blair Gavin may entice Schellas Hyndmann, a man used to working with young players.

FC Dallas, also get the sixth spot as well, so who does Hyndmann go for in this spot (assuming he doesn't trade the spot away)? Trade bait would be my guess, someone flexible with lots of potential and that guy would be Wake Forest (and local boy) Corben Bone, another talented midfielder with skill and pace.

As of yesterday, the seventh pick was DC United's but overnight, the Black and Red traded their seventh pick, midfielder Fred and allocation money to Philadelphia to get the right to Goalkeeper Troy Perkins. (a little more on that deal here and here). So the Union get another top ten pick in their first draft. What to do for Peter Novak--he got his first choice, but gave up the allocation spot given to expansion teams, I think Philly will look for a defender and reach a little deep for the big boy from Creighton, Chris Schuler, for help in the middle. At 6-4 and a muscular 200 pounds, Schuler could turn out to be this year's Omar Gonzalez.

Columbus will pick eighth and after the news that talisman Guillermo Barros Schellotto has agreed to a significant pay cut and loss of designated player status, look for the crew to sign foreign talent up front. Schellotto needs an apprentice and that may be Amobi Okugo from UCLA.

New England need a striker because Taylor Twellman's health is in serious doubt and even if Twellman comes back next year, you have to wonder for how long. Andrew Wiedeman is the kind of guy they need, a goal scorer like Twellman and with Shalrie Joseph providing service, Wiedeman is just their guy.

Chivas USA's new coach Martin Vasquez needs a midfielder who can move the ball around and replace his aging spine, the best (and most flexible) player would be UNC's Zach Loyd-a strong holding midfielder unafraid of a tackle and good with the ball at his feet.

Seattle's Sigi Schmid had a wonderful first year for the Sounders, but how to avoid a sophomore slump? Get a goal scorer, a midfielder or a defender? I think Schmid goes with a midfidler with promise and picks Dilly Duka.

The 12th overall pick will go to Columbus (who like Philly and New York get two picks in the first round). Can they pass up Toni Stahl, the Finnish midfielder? It might get a little crowded on the Columbus midfield line, but Stahl could also be trade bait as well.

Chicago Fire need a little depth up top as Brian McBride probably has only a year, maybe two left in his storied career. Harvard's (yes that Harvard) Andre Akpan is a great selection for the Fire, a big target style striker with a nose for goal and a bit of pace about him.

New York Red Bulls second first round, and 14th overall, pick will probably see them go after Generation Adidas youngster Jack McInerney. He didn't have a great U-17 World Cup or a great combine and might be something of a work in progress, but the young man has no fear of a tackle and lots of energy. If Hans Backe can develop the young man, you could see a potential star.

The L.A. Galaxy looked pretty solid all around, but with the possibility of maybe losing Landon Donovan after the World Cup, they will need a fresh attacking midfield option and that option will probably take the form of Wake Forest's Austin da Luz, a player who fits well into the spot that Donovan would vacate, wide left or through the gut. Da Luz may not have Donovan's speed, but he does have the touch.

Finally, the last pick in the draft goes to MLS Cup holders Real Salt Lake. With Yura Movsisyan heading to Europe and the possibility that Robbie Findlay may follow (with a good World Cup showing), Jason Kreis is going to need a speedy goal scorer and Wake Forest's Zack Schilawski fits that bill well. A goal scoring machine at Wake, leading the ACC in goals, but also setting a school record for appearances with 99--proving he is durable as well in the toughest college conference in the country. Articles - Perkins returns to D.C. United - 01/14/2010

So who doesn't have a first round pick? Houston, Toronto and DC United. DC United might end up hurting worse of this group.

You can follow the draft on ESPN2, ESPN 360 (like me) or a whole host of bloggers following live.

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