MLS SuperDraft Results and Analysis
1. Montreal - DF Andrew Wenger (GA), Duke Univ.
ISN Analysis - Our own Rudy Roediger was certainly right on this one. Wenger’s versatility makes him a starter somewhere on the pitch for the Impact on Day 1. One of the MLS scouts we talked to months ago said Wenger was the best player in the draft and Montreal certainly agreed.
2. Vancouver - FW Darren Mattocks (GA), Univ. of Akron
ISN Analysis - Speed kills in the pro game and Mattocks is dangerous in that department. He won’t contribute much defensively, but Mattocks is the best pure striker to come through the draft in years. No wonder European clubs wanted to steal the Jamaican away from MLS.
3. New England - MF Kelyn Rowe (GA), UCLA
ISN Analysis - We have some mixed feelings about this one and we weren’t the only ones. Scouts we talked to placed Rowe anywhere from #2 overall to the 2nd round. It is certainly attractive to have a GA prospect on the roster, but it may turn out to be a reach.
4. Toronto - MF Luis Silva, Univ. California, Santa Barbara
ISN Analysis - TFC had needs and Silva certainly filled one of them. He will improve the midfield immediately and become the player Julian de Guzman never was.
5. Chivas USA - FW Casey Townsend, Univ. of Maryland
ISN Analysis - Townsend was a nice pickup here. Chivas needed someone to put it in the back of the net and Townsend certainly can do that. He is the future of the Chivas USA attack considering that Angel and Moreno are not getting any younger.
6. San Jose - FW Sam Garza (GA), Univ. California, Santa Barbara
ISN Analysis - Garza will make Chris Wondolowski more dangerous. Is it possible for Wondo to score more goals in 2012? Yeah probably. Garza will help create opportunities and score a handful of goals in the process.
7. D.C. - MF Nick DeLeon, Univ. of Louisville
ISN Analysis - DeLeon is dangerous, no doubt about that. But pairing him with 2011 MVP Dwayne DeRosario may give opposing managers headaches. Great selection by Ben Olsen and his team.
8. Portland - DF Andrew Jean-Baptiste (GA), Univ. of Connecticut
ISN Analysis – Portland gets some help on the backline from a player with tons of potential. UNC’s Matt Hedges looked to be the first defender selected a few weeks back, but he didn’t have the greatest showing at the combine.
9. Chicago - DF Austin Berry, Univ. of Louisville
ISN Analysis - Louisville and Ken Jolla have a great reputation when it comes to producing MLS quality players. Berry is a good value at #9 and should fill a need for the Fire.
10. Columbus - FW Ethan Finlay, Creighton Univ.
ISN Analysis - The Crew needed a striker after sending Andres Mendoza and Jeff Cunningham packing. Finlay had the best showing of any player at the combine and this helped him move up the draft. He may be given an opportunity to start immediately as the Crew’s international signings get adjusted to MLS.
11. FC Dallas - DF Matt Hedges, Univ. of North Carolina
ISN Analysis - The combine raised doubts about Hedges and his ability to mark faster attackers. He went from the #1 defender overall to a risky pick even at #11. He could be a “boom or bust” player for FC Dallas.
12. Toronto - DF Aaron Maund, Univ. of Notre Dame
ISN Analysis - Teams needed defenders and Maund was the next best choice for the TFC backline. It will be interesting how TFC fares in 2012 and what changes to formation and personnel might still be headed their way.
13. Philadelphia - FW Chandler Hoffman (GA), UCLA
ISN Analysis - One of the steals of the draft, Peter Nowak couldn’t look past Hoffman this late in the draft. The Union’s attack gets even better with Adu, Mwanga, McInerney, and now Hoffman in the fold.
14. Colorado - FW Tony Cascio, Univ. of Connecticut
ISN Analysis - Really thought Colorado would look for Conor Casey’s long-term replacement here, which they did in selecting Cascio. The UConn product could be a star midfielder or forward for many years to come. Getting to play with Casey and Cummings will certainly speed up his development.
15. Seattle - DF Andrew Duran, Creighton Univ.
ISN Analysis - Not the selection we thought the Sounders would make, but the draft is certainly like that every year. Seattle knows what they are doing and must have seen something special in Duran. We honestly liked Polak better, but that is why we are journalists and not in someone’s front office.
16. Kansas City - FW Dom Dwyer (GA), Univ. of South Florida
ISN Analysis - The only player faster than Mattocks falls into Sporting’s lap. Dwyer is lightning quick and can score in a number of ways. SKC now has Dwyer, Bunbury, and Sapong. They are going to be scary good moving forward in the attack.
17. Real Salt Lake - MF Enzo Martinez (GA), Univ. of North Carolina
ISN Analysis - We want to go on the record saying this is the steal of the draft. Everyone was high on Martinez from ESPN’s Taylor Twellman to GolTV’s Phil Schoen to a handful on MLS clubs. We don’t know why he fell this far, but maybe his small size played a role. We heard he was getting looks starting at #3. RSL had a great start to the draft with this pick.
18. Houston - FW Colin Rolfe, Univ. of Louisville
ISN Analysis - Rolfe may have gone higher in other years, but this class was loaded with quality attackers. Thought Mkosana might be the better long-term prospect here since not many people were overly excited about Rolfe, who could have been had in the second round.
19. LA - DF Tommy Meyer, Indiana Univ.
ISN Analysis - You can’t be overly critical of the last pick in the round. Meyer should at least provide depth for the Galaxy D and be a serviceable player for 5-10 years.
20. Montreal - MF Calum Mallace, Marquette Univ.
ISN Analysis - Another good pick by the Impact. A lot of teams were looking at the Marquette star in the first round. Mallace is a good two-way player that could start right away. He has a no-nonsense approach to the game and should be a workhorse in the middle of the field for a long time.
21. Vancouver - DF Chris Estridge, Indiana Univ.
ISN Analysis - Vancouver fills another need with Estridge. A solid draft by Vancouver, who could get even more help from the supplemental draft.
22. New England - DF Tyler Polak (GA), Creighton Univ.
ISN Analysis - One of our favorite picks of the draft. Polak falls all the way to the Revs, who have a great history of working with defenders.
23. Chicago - FW Lucky Mkosana, Dartmouth College
ISN Analysis - We think Mkosana will be this year’s C.J. Sapong. Quality player who will get even better with experience.
24. Real Salt Lake - DF Diogo de Almeida, Southern Methodist Univ.
ISN Analysis - It is certainly hard to get excited about a pick this pick. RSL may know something we don’t.
25. San Jose - MF Jacob Hustedt, Univ. of Washington
ISN Analysis - See #24
26. Columbus - DF Aubrey Perry, Univ. of South Florida
ISN Analysis - Perry had a good showing at the combine, especially on Day 1. The Crew noticed and got a good prospect that may turn into something special over time.
27. Portland - MF Brendan King, Univ. of Notre Dame
ISN Analysis - The Timbers drafted strictly based on need and this fills one of many for Portland. Notre Dame players adapt well to MLS and King could be just as successful as last year’s ND product Jeb Brovsky.
28. Chicago - DF Hunter Jumper, Univ. of Virginia
ISN Analysis - Great pick by the Fire. We hear that Jumper has a huge upside and could have gone much higher. Some had him among the top 3 defenders in the draft.
29. Columbus - MF Kevan George, Univ. of Central Florida
ISN Analysis - The Crew may have come away with another sleeper, just like they did with Bernardo Anor last year. George has a good shot at making the Crew’s roster and will be given time to develop.
30. Kansas City - DF Cyprian Hedrick, Coastal Carolina Univ.
ISN Analysis - Kansas City’s defense is pretty solid so Hedrick may have to work the numbers to even stick with Sporting on Opening Day.
31. New York - GK Ryan Meara, Fordham Univ.
ISN Analysis - The Red Bulls needed a goalkeeper desperately since Frank Rost is not more than a stopgap player. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Meara between the posts for Week 1.
32. Philadelphia - MF Greg Jordan, Creighton Univ.
ISN Analysis - A banner year for Creighton, which finished tied with Louisville with the most players selected (4). Jordan might have gotten lost between the buzz about Finlay and Polak. The Union are solid and he will have his work cut out for him to make the squad.
33. San Jose - GK Chris Blais, Univ. of South Florida
ISN Analysis - San Jose looks to the future, knowing that Jon Busch can’t play forever. Blais is only the 2nd keeper off the board, providing a good value at #33. He should be a solid backup in 2012 and could grow with some time with the Reserves.
34. Seattle - FW Babayele Sodade, Univ. of Alabama-Birmingham
ISN Analysis - Seattle gets some depth in the attack, which should help the Sounders just in case Zakuani or White have any setbacks recovering from major injuries.
35. Philadelphia - DF Raymon Gaddis, West Virginia Univ.
ISN Analysis - Gaddis is a great value here. He has experience, talent, and should develop into a starter in 2-3 years.
36. Real Salt Lake - MF Sebastian Velasquez, Spartanburg Methodist Coll.
ISN Analysis - Some may call this a risk, but RSL must have seen something in the Juco star, who finished with 35 goals and 16 assists in 2011. That is a lot of goals regardless of the level of play. RSL may have found a diamond in the rough.
37. Houston - MF Warren Creavalle, Univ. of Central Florida
ISN Analysis - UCF has their second player selected in the second round. Houston adds some depth to their midfield, but it will be a challenge for Creavalle to stick with the team.
38. LA - MF Kenney Walker, Univ. of Louisville
ISN Analysis - Yet another Cardinal was selected. Even with the Galaxy’s recent roster changes, Walker will have to play like his career depended on it to stay with the defending champs.
Draft Analysis from GolTV’s Phil Schoen
1. How important is the MLS SuperDraft to the success of a club?
First, I think the SuperDraft itself has lost significance when it comes to player acquisition. There is already a solid base of players, even with expansion and with academies and a wider range of international players being targeted the actual opportunity for a college player to come through the draft and make a major impact is very small.
Each draft has some very good players, though. However, the top pick has been somewhat cursed by mediocrity. Of all of the top picks in the history of the SuperDraft I believe only Maurice Edu has lived up to the billing. He was so good; he only spent two years in the league before moving to Europe.
2. What did you think about the first two picks of the draft?
I think the top two players this year did go 1-2. While Darren Mattocks might have been the most exciting player in the draft, Andrew Wenger has the talent and ability to shine at almost every position on the field. With Montreal just starting out I think they appreciated the versatility more than an established team might have.
I think Mattocks will get the best chance to shine in the first year. You can't coach speed, and he's got the skill to go with it. Plus he's on a team that is still relatively new - and one that did very poorly last season. The Jamaican will get a chance to prove himself early in the season. From that point, it's up to him. I would say he's the early favorite for Rookie of the Year.
3. What was the biggest reach of the draft?
Colin Rolfe could see time with Houston, but it was a bit of a surprise pick, unless they know they won't get Brian Ching back and they won't be able to sign Kris Boyd. How many big center forwards do you need?
4. What about a sleeper that could make an immediate impact on an MLS roster?
As far as a sleeper goes, I like Enzo Martinez. Not just because he dropped deeper into the draft, but because of where he landed. He will fit in fine with Salt Lake, even though it might take a season or two to see it.
5. How did the Columbus Crew fare in the draft?
For the Crew, I think their biggest moves of the off-season came before the draft. Short-term, Mirosevic and Vargas will be dangerous if someone gives them chances. A good long-term pick-up was getting Ben Speas on the squad. I think he might have to wait for an opening, but I would not be surprised to see him in the rotation by the end of the year.
Ethan Finlay was a solid pick for the Crew, Arguably the second best player in college soccer this season and he fell to the tenth pick.
I think Warzycha will shake the formation up a bit, especially without Ekpo so Finlay will get a chance to prove himself right off the bat, especially if Mirosevic struggles to adapt. Finlay's probably Mattock's biggest rival for Rookie of the Year, but he'll have more competition for playing time. He reminds me a bit of Landon Donovan, cutting in from the flanks.
Perry was a good pick, but will have to play a waiting game to see action behind Miranda - and that might mean he plays the numbers game to stay on the roster.
George plays a bit like Shalrie Joseph, calm on and off the ball, good vision and touch. However, I don't see him beating out O'Rourke or Tchani. Maybe with a bit of work and bulk he could drop into the backline as a sweeper.
6. A lot of quality players remain undrafted. Any names to be on the lookout for in the supplemental draft?
Among the guys to keep an eye on for the supplemental draft: UCLA DM Andy Rose and Japanese attacking mid Kohei Yamada. The situation at left back might make the Crew interested in UCSB's James Kiffe.
Phil Schoen is the lead play-by-play announcer at GolTV. You can find out more about GolTV by visiting www.goltv.tv or by following Phil on Twitter @PhilSchoen.
ISN “Pick 5”
1. What team had the best draft?
RSL had a great draft, landing a top 5 talent in Enzo Martinez all the way down at #17. He could be a full-time starter by midseason. The selection of Sebastian Velasquz from Spartanburg may be the pick of the day if the youngster realizes his full potential.
2. Who are the best players still available for the supplemental draft?
Let’s start with Akron’s Luke Holmes, who at one time was projected to be a late first round or early second round selection. Holmes is a former NAIA National Player of the Year and had a strong finish to his senior season. Holmes can score goals, defend, and create opportunities for others. Someone has to be willing to take a chance on one of the youth internationals, perhaps Jason Banton or Gienir Garcia.
3. What team had the worst draft?
We weren’t impressed with Houston, who reached for Rolfe in a year full of quality attackers. UCF’s Warren Creavalle probably won’t make it out of training camp. It really could be a wasted year for the Dynamo, who really needed to find the next Brian Ching.
4. Why were no youth international players chosen?
The collegiate players available for the draft were particularly impressive this year. In other words, we had a very deep draft this year. As many as 15 players could develop into starters by midseason or sooner.
Keep in mind we only saw 1 non-Division I player selected and that teams are always leery of using their international roster slots on unproven players. I think the “John Rooney Effect” played a key role as well. The hype surrounding the NYRB midfielder proved to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors in just 1 season in MLS.
5. Which is more important: the draft or Homegrown Players?
The draft is the key to many sports, but soccer is not one of them. Drafting a franchise player is not something you hear about in MLS because it takes much more than one promising player to build a champion. There is no Andrew Luck in the MLS SuperDraft.
Homegrown players are becoming more popular as the MLS academy system starts to bear fruit. High end players are getting signed before they even think about the draft. Think of Ben Speas from UNC. He would have been a first round pick in the draft and could even have been headed to Europe with teammate Billy Schuler, but instead is headed back home to Ohio with the Crew.
The academy system is more of a European mindset, which is where we should be headed in the long run.