Around this point tomorrow, HTIOT will be firing up the laptops to cover the SuperDraft live. In the mean time, as promised some of us at HTIOT threw our hats in the ring to try to predict which player's name would be called with the #11 pick Thursday. That is always a tough task as any draft is not a perfect science. No one can accurately predict which players will fall lower, and which players will be taken sooner than expected. And we are only doing this for fun. Imagine being Frank and having your pick be a permanent selection for the club.
Draft day is sure to be crazy with some wheeling and dealing. Although Chivas USA has already been committed to Carlos Alvarez with the #2 pick, there are rumors swirling of some transactions involving Toronto FC (who hold the #1 and #3 picks). While most teams would love to have 2 of the top 3 picks, let's be honest. Toronto FC is an absolute mess, and could trade one or even both picks away for the right deal (or just because they are fairly incompetent). So while the Fire have multiple holes to fill, it's not out of the realm of possibility for the Men in Red to stay put at #11, trade up, or even trade down depending on what deals are on the table with the clock ticking.
Without further ado, here's what some of us here at HTIOT are thinking with the #11 pick in the 2013 SuperDraft. We are summing the Fire wll stand pat with these selections.
Kekuta Manneh - Forward - Lonestar FC - Lake Travis High School (That's in Texas, y'all!)
Well, it looks like the Fire have a couple more holes to fill than imagined. The loss of Alvaro Fernandez highlights some potential depth issues on the wings as well as other existing ones on the back line and in attack. So the urge to find someone who can plug one of those holes immediately is certainly present.
Now, I REALLY don't claim to be some kind of draft expert who has done tons of research. But from what I can tell, it seems like the best way to get the most out of the whole ordeal is by finding the best available player with the highest potential as opposed to drafting based on need.
I settled on the 18-year-old Manneh because he's likely to be the best available forward when the Fire are on the clock at #11. Forwards tend to be somewhat overvalued on the open market due to scoring, so when you have the opportunity to take a player who could develop into a scorer, I think it makes sense to take that risk. Defenders tend to be a bit safer and can more easily adapt to MLS, but it may make more sense for the Men in Red to pursue a versatile veteran defender during the transfer window (unless Walker Zimmerman or one of the other top defenders falls significantly).
With the MLS SuperDraft only a day away I figure it's time to try to guess who the Fire will draft. Since I'm not an expert on college soccer, I'll change who the Fire will draft into what position will the Fire draft.
After reading what experts had to say about whom the Fire should select (which kind of confused me), I believe the Fire should select a player that can fill the need for depth at the midfield/wing and in the back in the center. Some of the experts predict that the Fire may go with a forward which makes no sense with the addition of Maicon Santos.
Drafting a player that can play center mid is also crazy since the Fire already have a congested center of the park. I hope that this is not a case of drafting the best available and that Frank and company have a plan to shore up the depth situation that we have. So to me, the Fire should draft a winger or a center back. Maybe they'll find another Austin Berry in this year's draft so they can have a center back pairing for years to come or maybe they'll find another Patrick Nyarko to fill in the spot that has been left vacant by the departure of Fernandez. We will find out what Frank has in mind come Thursday in Indianapolis.
Well, well, well. I am on the clock. I figured the best option here (and most sensible) is to try to be realistic about what players will still be available at #11 when we pick. While some players might fall or rise a bit more than expected, I don't think a top 5 player will fall to #11 (assuming we don't trade up that is). I also have to couple this with the fact that our depth needs on the back line and at wing are most pressing. While a top forward would be nice, players drafted at forward tend to take longer to develop than is necessarily desirable at this point in time for the Fire. So, with that in mind, it's time for me to put on my Frank Klopas thinking cap.
With the #11 pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, the Chicago Fire pick: Erik Hurtado. That's right, a dynamic player that can be a winger. With Flaco leaving (and Nyarko getting beat up), having depth at wing is essential in 2013. Though many pundits list him as a forward, it sounds like Hurtado is built more in a winger type of role. And he can can score in front of goal too. That should be a welcome statement with players like Oduro and the now departed Flaco missing open nets last season.
While the Fire have back line needs too, not every draftee is MLS ready like Austin Berry. In fact very few rookies are ready to step into a back line role and dominate like Austin did in 2012. If the Fire can get a dangerous winger (who would help an offense that needs to improve in 2013), that will allow Frank to focus on building back line depth and maybe even a forward spot) before the open of the 2013 MLS season.
Welcome to the Fire Erik Hurtado. Enjoy your stay in the Windy City!
Erik Hurtado - MF/FW - Santa Clara University
I liked this guy from the moment I started reading up about him. The fact that a lot of scouts believe that he is MLS ready was one thing, but watching his highlight video on YouTube really reinforced that for me. The highlight reel is 12 minutes long, so it shows more than just his goals and assists. The guy has speed and is great at picking out a pass (he had 2 assists at the combine). While he did have some trouble finishing off chances at the combine, only two players in this years' SuperDraft have scored more goals than him in the NCAA this year (Ryan Finley and Chris Thomas).
Hurtado strikes me as some one who is an all around athlete. In the strength, speed and agility tests at the combine, Hurtado was the second fastest in the 30-meter sprint (4.09 seconds) and tied for third in the vertical jump (31 inches). While scouts say that he is MLS ready now, he will still need some time to transition to the pro level, but I think he has the skill set to develop into a very solid player in a few years.