The MLS SuperDraft has just concluded in Kansas City with some huge surprises, as some clubs will be leaving the BBQ city with a vastly improved squad while others should be seriously worried (NY Red Bulls...cough...cough) that their moves will not hurt them for many years to come.
The first winner is the MLS. The draft took just 3:01 and flew by, actually making for some interesting television. Not once (as opposed to draft days for other sports) did I have to reach for a 5 Hour Energy. Much of this had to do with the surprising fact that there wasn’t any wheeling and dealing or in-draft trades made by the clubs. A HUGE SURPRISE.
ESPN 2 is a loser for only taking the first round before going to a RADIO SHOW that they also air on TV.
As for the players, the biggest story has to be that UNC midfielder Enzo Martinez didn’t get taken until RSL snatched him up with the 17th pick. That is an absolute steal for Jason Kreis.
Another player I thought would go higher was UCLA goal scorer Chandler Hoffman. The Philadelphia Union probably had to pinch themselves just to make sure Hoffman was still available as the Union stepped up to the podium with the 13th pick. The Birmingham, Alabama native is a natural finisher. He will be counted on to finally take some of the burden off of Sebastien Le Toux who the Union leaned heavily on to provide their offense throughout the first two campaigns.
The Union can be proud of their day’s work. In addition to Hoffman, they also took Creighton midfielder Greg Jordan and with a pick previously acquired from Sporting KC, added a defender in West Virginia’s Ryan Gaddis. As a result, the Union were the only team to add a player to each of their outfield lines, adding depth to an already solid squad.
Sporting KC can also be happy with their first-round pick of Dom Dwyer. The Englishmen out of the University of Southern Florida is one of the fastest players in this year’s draft. The Big East Offensive Player of the Year scored 16 goals in his single season at USF and as the panel on ESPN pointed out, he is dangerous in the air despite being just 5’9’’.
As for some other picks that caught my eye, Chivas USA did well to select Casey Townsend. The University of Maryland forward is not only a proven goal scorer, but he also possesses the ability to fight through challenges and keep the ball. Maryland players have a great track record in MLS and Townsend might be the only reason I tune into Chivas USA matches this year.
I could go on and on about players I really like, but I will finish with a sleeper. San Jose made a smart pick in the second round with Jacob Hustedt out of Washington. I watched Hustedt play in the PDL this summer for the Ventura County Fusion. Hustedt covers a lot of ground, has solid ball control, and also possesses the ability to create for himself and others.
As for the Losers, the New York Red Bulls have shown yet again that money can’t buy brains. The New Jersey club traded their 2013 first round pick to the Portland Timbers for Kenny Cooper. Although it did not affect today’s draft, Cooper is well past his prime. After a very innocuous 2011 in the Northwest, his move to the Red Bulls doesn’t make much sense for a side already boasting the likes of Thierry Henry, Luke Rodgers and Juan Aguedelo along the front line.
Finally, for the Chicago Fire, I really liked the pick up of Dartmouth’s Lucky Mkosana, a strong and powerful forward that looks very comfortable in the lone striker role. On the other hand, I DO NOT LIKE their move for Hunter Jumper. Sure the UVA man is a solid defender, but I don’t think he will offer Chicago much in the offensive third which is something all defenders need to be able to do in the modern era.
To be fair to Chicago, defenders were hard to come by in a draft that was top heavy with attacking talent. If these attackers can settle into MLS and make their mark, then 2012 will be a very exciting season.
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