The first two rounds of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft concluded less than 24 hours ago, and the start of training camp is still a few weeks away, but it's never too early to begin speculating which teams did well and which teams did not. At the end of the day, it seems like most teams fared pretty well in this year's SuperDraft.
This isn't an exhaustive list of winners and losers, so if there is any thing you'd like to add or dispute, please feel free to voice yourself in the comments.
Winners: New England Revolution
New England was one of the strongest defensive teams in MLS last year, but their offense struggled mightily when Juan Agudelo was not in the lineup. With Agudelo gone, New England desperately needed to find a successor, and they put themselves in a good position to do just that.
The Revs received the 4th overall draft pick by dealing the rights to Michael Parkhurst to Columbus and picked up forward/midfielder Steve Neumann from Georgetown. They then made a trade on draft day with Colorado to jump up to the 11th pick and pick up forward/midfielder Patrick Mullins. It is likely that one, if not both, of these players are going to see a lot of playing time up top next season.
The Revs also picked up Golden Bear midfielder Alec Sundly in the second round (31st overall). Alec is more of an attacking midfielder and, according to the MLSsoccer.com scouting report on Sundly, some question whether he has the toughness to be a midfielder in MLS. Alec’s highlight reel shows that he has a great nose for goal inside the box. The Revs have a pretty good midfield as is with Caldwell, Rowe, Nguyen and the like, so maybe Alec could also see a chance playing up top at some point in the season.
Overall, Jay Heaps essentially picked three high quality players to work with who could be interchanged between the forward and midfield positions.
Losers: Philadelphia Union
The trade to move up in the SuperDraft and pick Andre Blake first overall is puzzling. Zac McMath seems to be progressing as a goalkeeper. McMath was 5th in the league in saves last season (101) saves and, out of 16 goalkeepers who played more that 2,000 minutes, McMath had the 6th best save percentage. He was better than players like Jimmy Nielsen, Tally Hall, Michael Gspurning and Bill Hamid. It just seems like there were other needs that could have been addressed with the first round pick.
On skill alone, Andre Blake is going to be a beast in the league, but with his immaturity and temperament, it might take him a while to develop into a truly good goalkeeper. If Philly were to move McMath before the start of the season and give the starting job to Blake, 2014 will be a step backwards in the goal keeping department.
The main reason Philly traded up was because Vancouver, who was picking 3rd, parted ways with three goalkeepers since the season ended. I've never used the term "baller" in my life, but if Philly is able to trade McMath to Vancouver and get something good out of it, then I might have to expand my vocabulary and change my opinion.
Winners: Philadelphia Union
Yes, I did just label Philly losers for what they did with their first pick, but the rest of their picks were incredibly solid.
The bulk of Philadelphia's assists in 2013 came from Sébastien Le Toux (12 assists) and Sheanon Williams (8 assists). Both Le Toux and Williams are primarily wide players in the midfield and the defense respectively. When it comes to the center of the field, more specifically central midfield, the Union struggled a bit in 2013. With the 15th pick overall, Pedro Ribeiro from Costal Carolina, who had an incredibly strong showing at the combine, could fix that problem.
Philly traded away defender Jeff Park a few days before the draft. In the second round, Philly snagged centerback Kevin Cope (25th overall), who some projected to to go a bit higher in the late first round.
The Union also picked up Robbie Derschang in the second round (27th overall). Robbie played leftback at Akron, and could be a replacement to Chris Albright, who retired recently. As a left footed player, Derschang has also played left winger and striker. Michael Farfan, who was sold to Cruz Azul this off season, was frequently rotated in and out of the starting XI at left midfield. Robbie could possibly fill that spot for the Union as well.
Losers: Chivas USA
So, Chivas has offloaded 12 players and only brought 3 players in this off season. There are a lot of roster spots to be filled for the L.A. Goats, but unfortunately, they only have three picks in the SuperDraft, and their one and only pick on Thursday did not even come until the second round.
Chivas traded the 2nd overall pick in exchange for Gabriel Farfan back in May of 2013 and traded the 21st pick to Seattle along with Shalrie Joseph back in February 2013. Matter of fact, here are the terms of what Chivas gave away for Joseph:
"Not only did the Sounders acquire Chivas USA’s natural second-round SuperDraft picks for each of the next two years, but they are only taking on part of Joseph’s salary cap hit and swapping spots in the Allocation Ranking to move from No. 15 to No. 3."
What did Chivas get in return? A freed up Designated Player spot. I knew that Chivas was trying to purge themselves of all non-Latino players last off-season, but I had no idea to what extent they were willing to go. It just leaves me speechless.
With their only pick, Chivas selected midfielder Thomas McNamara from Clemson. First thing he did after he got the phone call that he had been drafted by Chivas? Probably reached for an electric razor and shaved off his mullet. He is going to be made fun of enough playing for Chivas that there is no need to compound the embarrassment with with a stupid haircut.
Winners: Houston Dynamo
Houston might be a bit of a sleeper. The Dynamo had two picks in the opening rounds of the SuperDraft, and both picks were spent wisely. Their first pick (16th overall) was spent on Generation Adidas centerback A.J. Cochran to offset the loss of Bobby Boswell. The Dynamo have both Eric Brunner and Jermaine Taylor as centerbacks going into next year if Dominic Kinnear doesn’t want to throw A.J. straight into the fire. On the other hand, after reading his MLSsoccer.com scouting profile, it sounds like A.J. might be a perfect target in the box for Brad Davis on set pieces.
The Dynamo have lost three forwards since the season ended - Brian Ching (retired), Cam Weaver (option declined) and Calen Carr (out of contract). Kinnear likes big forwards, and in the second round, Houston picked Mark Sherrod (32nd overall), a big target forward who could help fill the place of Brian Ching and Cam Weaver.
Super Draft Results
|1. Philadelphia Union||Andre Blake, GK||Brotherly Game|
|2. D.C. United||Steve Birnbaum, D||Black and Red United|
|3. Vancouver Whitecaps||Christian Dean, D||86 Forever|
|4. New England Revolution||Steve Neumann, M/F||The Bent Musket|
|5. Montreal Impact||Eric Miller, D||Mount Royal Soccer|
|6. FC Dallas||Tesho Akindele, M/F||Big D Soccer|
|7. Whitecaps||Andre Lewis, M||86 Forever|
|8. Seattle Sounders||Damion Lowe, D||Sounder at Heart|
|9. San Jose Earthquakes||J.J. Koval, M||Quake, Rattle and Goal|
|10. Toronto FC||Nick Hagglund, D||Waking the Red|
|11. New England Revolution||Patrick Mullins, M/F||The Bent Musket|
|12. Colorado Rapids||Marlon Hairston, M||Burgundy Wave|
|13. Chicago Fire||Marco Franco, D||Hot Time In Old Town|
|14. Crew||Ben Sweat, D||Massive Report|
|15. Union||Pedro Ribeiro, M||Brotherly Game|
|16. Houston Dynamo||A.J. Cochran, D||Dynamo Theory|
|17. Portland Timbers||Schillo Tshuma, M/F||Stumptown Footy|
|18. Real Salt Lake||Ryan Neil, M/D||RSL Soapbox|
|19. Rapids||Grant van de Casteele, D||Burgundy Wave|
|20. Chivas USA||Thomas McNamara, M/F||The Goat Parade|
|21. Seattle Sounders||Jimmy Ockford, D||Sounder at Heart|
|22. New York Red Bulls||Chris Duvall, D||Once a Metro|
|23. LA Galaxy||Kyle Venter, D||LAG Confidential|
|24. Toronto FC||Daniel Lovitz, M||Waking the Red|
|25. Union||Kevin Cope, D||Brotherly Game|
|26. Timbers||Taylor Peay, D||Stumptown Footy|
|27. Union||Robbie Derschang, M/D||Brotherly Game|
|28. Earthquakes||Joe Sofia, D||Quake, Rattle and Goal|
|29. D.C. United||Victor Muñoz, M||Black and Red United|
|30. Whitecaps||Mamadou Diouf, F||86 Forever|
|31. Revolution||Alec Sundly, M||The Bent Musket|
|32. Dynamo||Mark Sherrod, F||Dynamo Theory|
|33. Rapids||Jared Watts, M||Burgundy Wave|
|34. Red Bulls||Eric Stevenson, M||Once a Metro|
|35. Rapids||John Berner, GK||Burgundy Wave|
|36. Timbers||Aaron Long, M||Stumptown Footy|
|37. Impact||George Malki, M||Mout Royal Soccer|
|38. Sporting Kansas City||Adnan Gabeljic, F||The Daily Wiz|