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Critics' Choice 2011 MLS Draft: the experts weigh in with categories and grades for the Eastern Conference

The dust has settled and the equipment has been removed from the Baltimore Convention Center.  The 2011 MLS Draft is in the book and let's turn to the experts to see how the other teams in the league did.  For now we'll focus on the Eastern Conference.

Thomas Floyd of had D.C. United and New England Revolution in the 'winners' column.  D.C. getting the top win seemed to have much to do with the fact that DCU head coach Ben Olsen thought their draft pick Perry Kitchen could have gone No. 1 overall instead of falling to No. 3.  I'm not sure that's a win in itself but's own Jeremiah Oshan tells it a little better.

Again, this is really about the one big name they had just fall in their lap, but they did get the player that many people have been calling the best all-around-player in the draft. Perry Kitchen is going to start, probably in the midfield, almost right away. He's going to make DC better. Chris Korb, his Akron teammate, came later in the second round, but adding two players from arguably the greatest men's college team in history can't be bad can it? The answer is "no," in case you were wondering. 

D.C United also added University of Denver goaltender Joe Willis.  I remember the Chicago Fire adding a defensive and goaltender combo at the end of the 2010 draft... I'd say Steven Kinney and Sean Johnson worked out all right.  Let's hope it doesn't turn out that way for our east coast rivals in black. 

Oshan did not list New England in his 'moving on up' distinction or his 'stagnating' category but Drew Epperley of backed up Floyd's 'New England' are winners by giving the Revolution an A- for the draft.  For Epperley's thoughts on New England and more on each Eastern Conference team, follow the break.

Picks: AJ Soares (#6), Stephen McCarthy (#24), Steven Perry (#39), Ryan Kinne (#42), Alan Koger (#54)

Thoughts: The Revs had plenty of picks and really did the most with them. Grabbing Soares at six is not a reach in the least bit. He’ll start for them on day one I’d imagine. I absolutely love them getting McCarthy in the second round which is a major steal for them there, as is grabbing both Perry and Kinne. Those two should help boost their offense a good bit. I think after a so-so draft last year for  Steve Nicol he has returned to snagging top talent yet again.

I'm not sure if the fact that Soares will start for New England right away is a compliment to Soares or a total diss to New England.  It seems that Drew really liked New England's last couple of picks in the draft so it might just be the latter.  While the Boston team in blue might have come out so-so, Epperley agreed fully with Oshan and Floyd on D.C. United having a great draft by giving the the team in our nation's capital a solid A grade. 

The bad news is that Jeff Carlisle of and J.R. Eskilson of praised D.C. United's draft too giving out 'helped themselves a ton' and an 'A' respectively.  Ives Galacrep did not rank D.C. United a 'winner' but if 5 out of 6 soccer experts agree on something, it looks pretty good.  No such consensus could be gained on New England however as Ives listed New England as one of his last 'winners' while Carlisle gave a 'solid shooting' out and Eskilson gave the Revolution a C+.  No one seemed to think they had a great draft... but no one thought they hit rock bottom either.  B-/C+ with room for improvement sounds just about right.

The reason I have focused entirely on New England and D.C. is because our other Eastern Conference rivals seem to have forgotten to do their homework or painted themselves into corners they could not escape.  Outside of Drew Epperley giving Philadelphia a B+ and Ives Galacrep giving Philadelphia a 'winners' label, everyone else shot Philly down with Jeff Carlisle going so far as to create a category called 'say what'

Given the calamitous goalkeeping the Union endured last season, selecting a shot stopper at some point during the draft was not out of the realm of possibility. But to spend the fifth overall selection on Maryland keeper Zac MacMath seems a reach, especially given the team's needs in defense as well as the fact that Colombian netminder Farid Mondragon is reportedly close to signing with the team. The Union also took inconsistent North Carolina midfielder Michael Farfan but might have landed a sleeper pick with UM-Baltimore County winger Levi Houapeu.

Farid Mondragon has also been signed to a Designated Player contract meaning he'll become the highest paid goalie in the league by quite some margin.  To use a DP slot and the No. 5 pick in the SuperDraft on the goalie position in the same season is just not a good use of resources.  Philadelphia is by no means out for the count and Mondragon could become a valuable mentor to young Zac MacMath.  However, I think Jeremiah Oshan's use of the word 'stagnant' is very appropriate to describe what happened to the Union's situation between January 13 and January 14.  Both Kansas City and New York didn't receive any high grades or low grades so I think an overall C+ is just right for them.  Columbus and Toronto had weak grades and each team had one writer trash their draft.

Thomas Floyd: Kansas City and New York rank as losers

Jeremiah Oshan: Philadelphia stagnated

Drew Epperley:Philadelphia receives a B+, Columbus receives C+, Kansas City and New York receive C, and Toronto receives a D.

Ives Galacrep:New York and Philadelphia are winners, Columbus, Kansas City and Toronto are losers.

Jeff Carlisle: Columbus, New York, and Toronto receive 'solid shooting', Kansas City receives 'mixed bag', Philadelphia receives the only 'Say what?'

J.R. Eskilson: Kansas City and New York receive C+, Philadelphia and Toronto receive C, Columbus receives a D.

I think this means the Chicago Fire should be more aggressive on the transfer market than ever.  I didn't expect to have the draft cause any big changes to the Eastern Conference landscape but if the biggest improvement Chicago has to worry about is a D.C. United Kitchen upgrade, there shouldn't be any hesitation to do our own expensive remodeling in order to compete in the market place.  I'll have more on why I'm sold on this idea when we go over what the critics' thought of the MLS Draft for our Chicago Fire.