I am stunned. I don’t quite know how to say these things, so I guess I’ll try to use music to describe my feelings:
That was my description of our moves today. I have followed this draft for the past four months. I have gathered as much material as possible during that time. Leading up to this draft, I was genuinely disappointed that I would miss this draft because I’ve studied it harder than I’ve ever even studied for a class. But then last night I rolled my ankle in an indoor “rec soccer” game and ended up being unable to climb stairs for most of today. I was actually excited to be injured, because It meant I could follow the Fire through the draft.
Then the Fire attacked.
First, I guess I will come clean to the public about my #3 pick for the mock draft: I knew for a fact we were going to trade that pick away. When I was put on the clock, I panicked to find a placeholder and he was the first player on my first article so I just dropped his name in there. Brandon Aubrey was not my pick for #3. I’ll stand by my number 11 pick because I think he’s just scaring people away with his international tag.
A brief side-jaunt
I would like to get more into that #3 pick a bit more here. This is the first time that they have ever revealed how much money is flying around, which is absolutely fucking fantastic! We can finally find out how much GAM/TAM is worth in real money and how much teams see these players being worth. Of course, the Fire make history by being the first team to have to reveal how much they’re getting AND HOLY SHIT THAT’S A LOT! $250k is genuinely a useful amount which means everyone has to be wondering, “How much GAM/TAM are we hiding?” We have been told time and time again how much we have stored up, but us fans never see any of it really being used. So my challenge to MLS is to release the official store of GAM/TAM that is available to each team (at least at the beginning of a season), so that fans understand whether that judgement call to buy down a player was smart or not judging by the amount we have stored. That’s all I have to say about GAM/TAM.
Now a conspiracy: The Fire are actively helping NYCFC. Just look at the moves we’ve been making. Two drafts in a row we give them our highest pick for GAM/TAM and I bet you that Fire Twitter will be ablaze on NYCFC’s opening day because Jonathon Lewis is gonna tear it up in his first game just to spite everyone. And next year I’ll have to write another article about “Why GAM was better than Lewis at the time” (even though it wasn’t this time). We trade away Johnson to Atlanta who instantly drops him off at the nearest bus stop to New York. Maybe it’s N-Rod’s roots in New Jersey, but something doesn’t seem right about our relationship with NYCFC.
... and back to the main point
So let’s finally get something addressed: I may complain about certain players or getting certain players or even the performance of certain players, but I never have anything against them as people. I respect Daniel Johnson and hope he does well. In fact, I’d love to meet the guy or even have him at my table at the kick-off luncheon, he seems like a great guy. But I do not agree at all with our decision to draft him. Here’s why: POSITIONAL NEEDS! We just drafted a wide midfielder, which was a need. I will agree that that position was a need in our situation. But the biggest need, OUR GIANT FUCKING BLACK HOLE WAS AT RIGHT BACK! And there were two highly rated right backs sitting there. Not just highly rated, but they were a couple of the top-rated players in all the draft going into today. And we passed on them for a position that already had a “just in case” place-holder there. I would’ve been okay with another season of Alvarez starting, but I will not stand, sit, lean, lie down, or whatever other positions I can put my body into, for another season of Michael Harrington at right back. I would like to take this time to say that I wish Chris Oddoi-Atsem and Colton Storm wonderful careers in the MLS, you guys looked really good.
In fact, let’s get back to that #3 pick. I know I said before that I was fine with GAM for that one, but let’s go back to it. I want everyone to remember what player was still available at #3. If you were right, you thought Jeremy Ebobisse. He was projected to go first! And he dropped right onto our laps. Not saying it was the wrong decision, but...
Finally, let’s look at our two second rounders. To be perfectly honest, I liked Guillermo Delgado. Only thing wrong with him is that he uses an international slot, but I’m cool with him. It’s the decision to draft Stefan Cleveland that confuses the shit outta me. Now why would we draft a player who not only was the worst keeper at the combine, but also only there because the best one was injured?! I’m cool with skipping on Eric Klenofsky, he really dropped his stock and does not have much impressive metrics. I’m cool with not picking up Alec Ferrel, he was picked about where I expected. But we decided to not get Robert Moewes or Jake McGuire! Now Moewes is an international, so you know how allergic MLS teams are to him. But Jake McGuire was an absolute STUD during the combine. He was on every ball that came at him and played it out fairly well enough to be what will probably a glorified back-up/St. Louis’ new starter. Instead of getting the best available, it looked like we were just spinning a wheel or something instead of being educated.
And that’s the bottom of this. People dismiss the MLS Draft because teams don’t normally build from it. It’s much better and easier to sign talent than to draft it in MLS. But a crapshoot, it is not! If you are educated on it, if you actually scouted players (I’m not saying I did; In fact, tbh, I could’ve done more), YOU WOULD KNOW WHO YOU’RE GETTING! The reason why the Fire had been so hit and miss for a while is because they seem to have a scouting department consisted of Pauno, YouTube, and a copy of FIFA. And that copy of FIFA doesn’t help you with the draft. We did well last year, but this year was just... blech.
To wrap this up, I would like to re-iterate that I wish the best of luck to Daniel Johnson, Stefan Cleveland, and Guillermo Delgado. I hope that all of you can prove me wrong and tweet this back at me at the end of this season or the next season and say, “IN YOUR FACE!” In fact, I encourage you to do so if it happens. But at the moment, I just don’t see it happening. Which compels me to end this with my favorite song to describe the Fire with (from one of my all-time favorite films “The Twelve Chairs”):
HOPE FOR THE BEST. EXPECT THE WORST!
Come back Wednesday for a full recap (yeah, the draft isn’t even over until Tuesday).