As most of you know, the MLS Superdraft will take place on January 13th, 2011 in Baltimore. The draft is always an exciting time of year, especially more so now that this is widely considered to be one of the deepest, if not the deepest, draft classes in MLS history. The defending NCAA champion Akron Zips will have 5 players alone entering in to the draft, so the talent is definitely there. Follow me after the jump for some info on some of the top prospects and a bit of discussion involving the Fire...
In nearly every mock draft/draft analysis I have read, all 5 Akron players are projected to go somewhere in the top 10. That's pretty incredible, especially considering many mock drafts, such as this one from WVHooligan, have even the top 3 players being Akron Zips. The consensus overall pick from pretty much everyone seems to be Darlington Nagbe. From what I have heard, he is the next big thing. Maybe a Freddy Adu that actually makes something out of his career? That's definitely immense pressure to pile on someone who has never played a professional game. While it would be an absolute dream to get our hands on him, the Fire sit at pick #9, and we have so many holes to fill that I am assuming we will and should go for the best player possible. The draft picture would be a bit clearer had we already made some moves, but since there has been no word on potential signings whatsoever since well before Christmas, it makes the draft a much more murky proposition.
Another good primer for the draft can also be found at WVHooligan. This story does a good job of highlighting more than just a few players that may be coming out in the draft. While many will be in the draft for sure, it's nice to read about up and coming players that may be coming our way in future drafts as well. Personally, I would love to see us pick Omar Salgado, but I think he will go in the top 5 picks. I would be shocked actually if he didn't go in the top 3. It seems kind of unfair that both Vancouver and Portland not only got players in the expansion draft, but they also get the first two picks in the Superdraft. It is understandable though as they need to round out their teams and try to field as competitive of a team as possible straight out of the gate. Judging by who they could pick up in this draft and build around, I would definitely be excited if I were a Timbers or Whitecaps fan. Thankfully I'm not, and I look forward to see who my beloved Fire may be able to snag instead.
I wanted to include yet another great writeup this time from a Portland Timbers blog. They definitely did their homework here, including some scouting reports on many of the top players expected to go in the draft. Hopefully this link will be what reader Kchance was looking for in the comments of the previous article here on Hot Time in Old Town. The top 10 projected players all could help the Fire so I like our chances at No. 9. Plus, you never now what will happen. I've lost track of the number of times Tweed here has pointed out that Sean Johnson was selected at No. 51 last year. Teams make unexpected picks, Frank Klopas pulls some more draft magic, and you never know who will find their way to Toyota Park next year. I will say that I want any player we draft to have a chance to make an immediate impact in Bridgeview, especially if we don't make the signings we need to make.
This all brings me to a down side of the draft. We lost a 2nd round draft pick to the Sounders because of the Ljungberg trade. True, it could have been worse. If we resigned Freddie BEFORE the draft, we would have lost our first round pick. That really would have sucked, and now that Freddie has officially signed with Celtic, we don't have to worry about it. I was a big fan of Freddie's, but if it came down to us locking him up before the draft, or us possibly losing him and keeping our first round pick, I would pick the latter. I do believe Ljungberg could have helped us for another year or two, but with the players available in this draft, I would much rather have the building blocks for the future. Such is the life of Frank Klopas. He gets to make the tough decisions and is also tasked with trying to make us competitive heading into next season. There's no guarantee that the quality of players available in the pick we gave to the Sounders would be anywhere near the first round talent. On the other hand, it still would be nice to have that pick what with all the holes we have to fill.
Let's hope Frank works his magic once again, and is able to bring in some quality signings, and pull off a great draft. We will find out in 2 weeks, in the meantime the attached poll should help give Fire fans a good outlook on what us others would like to see happen in the draft.