SB Nation has released the results of our mock 2015 MLS Superdraft - two rounds of dart-throwing and note-cribbing, distilled. I come to you today, fair readers, in the interest of transparency; I wish to explain the selections I made on behalf of the Fire, feebly researched as they were, and explain my reasoning.
My first precept was that I was not looking for attacking players. Perhaps if our draft went four rounds, as the real MLS draft does, I'd've spent more time researching attacking players as long-term projects. The SB Nation draft was only two rounds, though; given the Fire's considerable investment in attacking players already this preseason, my interest was further back, deep in midfield and in defense.
So, without further ado, the guys I picked, and what I was thinking:
1st round: Fatai Alashe, D/DM, Michigan State
Alashe has what scouts in other (American) sports call a 'pro body.' He's strong, mobile, and seems to be a leader on the field when he plays with MSU.
(I was also under the impression that he'd signed a magical document called a Generation Adidas contract with MLS, which means that until he's an established regular, he's essentially free under the salary cap. In a capped league, getting depth contributors who circumvent the salary cap is incredibly important. But he's not GA, which means half of my motivation for the pick was incorrect. What's even more important than signing free players? Double-checking your notes to make certain they are actually free.)
As much as I like Alashe's game, I had some trepidation over picking him, simply because his natural position - defensive midfield - isn't one of the club's most pressing needs; why not pick a centerback? That's where live draft tactics come into play - my target at centerback was Marquette senior Axel Sjoberg, who isn't rated as one of the top five prospects at that position (incorrectly, in my mind). With several more-highly-touted centerbacks still on the board, I gambled that Sjoberg would continue to be available 20 picks later, which he was.
This pick also reflects the fact that, despite having several candidates on the roster, I'm not sold on any of them as solo defensive midfielders. Matt Watson has tremendous work-rate and decent ball skills, but his passing can be wayward and he lacks a defensive mid's paranoid awareness of the space behind him. Razvan Cocis is more creator than destroyer, and needs a partner in a double pivot if he's going to play deep. Chris Ritter is coming on, but may lack the athleticism to function alone in front of the back line. Alashe has tremendous range, and could mature into an elite MLS destroyer.
2nd round: Saad Abdul-Salaam, Akron
So having picked Alashe in the first round - partially because of a mistaken idea about his contract - I was left with my draft sheet in tatters. I didn't want to spend both picks on central defenders, and Alashe might wind up as one; so my previous hope for the second round, Marquette's mammoth centerback Axel Sjoberg, was suddenly surplus to requirements. So I went for an MLS classic: "The best player available."
Abdul-Salaam likely isn't ready to play right back at the MLS level right now, which is okay; Lovel Palmer has that position on lockdown based upon his ironman performances in 2014. The Akron speedster can spend a year or so working on his positioning and thought process. If all goes well, Abdul-Salaam could become the kind of marauding wingback Fire fans haven't seen since before Gonzalo Segares slunked off to Cyprus.
So, there it is: My Mock Superdraft experience, revealed. What have we learned? I'd suggest the following: 1.) Always double-check your notes; 2.) It's a crap shoot; and 3.) Always double-check your notes.