Two years ago, while Brian 'Cobi' Span was a sophomore at the University of Virginia, his blend of size (he's 6-foot-3), speed and technique made him one of the most highly-sought-after talents in the college game. Soccer journalist Ives Galarcep, in fact, rated him the no. 7 talent in an early look at the 2012 MLS draft, ahead of notables such as Dillon Powers, the Fire's own Austin Berry, and Span's UVa teammate Hunter Jumper.
When he didn't get the Generation Adidas offer he was looking for, though, a better payday in Europe beckoned, and he signed with Swedish club Djurgarden. After a bravura beginning - Span scored during his first start - playing time dried up. After only 14 total appearances in two years, having not scored another goal past the first one, Span is bringing his big-time potential back to the USA.
The fact that Span dropped out of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft means that no team owns his rights - which , in the arcane world of MLS acquisitions, means the league will run a weighted lottery to decide which team he's to join. For Span, five teams - including our Chicago Fire - have thrown their hats in the ring in the drawing, which takes place Thursday morning at 10 a.m. Eastern. Those teams, with their chances of winning, are:
|San Jose Earthquakes||18.7%|
|New England Revolution||12.3%|
|Real Salt Lake||0.9%
How do I rate acquiring Span? Well, as a 19-year-old, his potential was tantilizing; as a guy who'll be 22 before the season, I'd really hope he hears the clock ticking. While it's true 'you can't teach speed,' it's also true that 'no one moves faster than the ball.' For a reasonable cap number, his upside is still sky-high.