I get really excited about these draft things. I mean, the SuperDraft isn’t as big a deal as the NFL draft — e.g. pretty much the only route a player can make it into the professional game. There’s lots of other ways players can be acquired — lower divisions, international scouting, academies, even open tryouts (hey, it’s possible). The SuperDraft by no means embodies the be-all, end-all for getting the next generation of MLS players. But it’s exciting nonetheless.
Like any competitive profession (not just professional sports, but thinking about things like acting, writing, art), it’s incredibly difficult to make it in the business and incredibly easy to get extremely close and miss the boat. Most of these kids aren’t going to be Landon Donovan. That doesn’t mean that the SuperDraft is a big waste of time, though. On the contrary, you’ll hear a lot about finding “diamonds in the rough” which is something RSL tends to be exceptionally good at. We hear talk about how we picked up Kyle Beckerman from Colorado and he became part of the foundation of the team. Then there’s Nick Rimando, who was in the process of being bounced around before RSL picked him up (after trading him away to New York). RSL drafted Sebastian Velasquez from a tiny junior college no one had heard of. We drafted Devon Sandoval late in the second round of the SuperDraft and scouted Olmes Garcia in Columbia — both of whom we expect to see more of in the future as the next generation of the team.
Besides all this, there’s the wheeling and dealing which often is as interesting as the actual drafting. Last minute deals are made to jump up in the draft order. First round picks are traded away for allocation money. Amidst all this are those players getting the most hype and knowing which players to watch for during the season (especially when they’re playing against us). Patrick Mullins. Deshorn Brown. Gyasi Zardes.
I look forward to the SuperDraft every year.
And so, here are a few things to expect to see in this year’s MLS SuperDraft:
Everyone sitting at long tables shuffling sheets of paper…except Jason Kreis
Jason spent the entirety of the MLS Expansion Draft pacing while everyone else (Orlando City staff and his own NYCFC staff) sat calmly. It was so much that, about halfway into the draft he must’ve been making Claudio Reyna nervous because he got up to join him. If the expansion draft is a chess match between two teams, the SuperDraft is that times 10. He also knows that he made an error in not drafting the first slot in the SuperDraft earlier in the MLS “draft of drafts” with Adrian Heath. Orlando City has money to burn and an apparent willingness to do it, and Jason is going to be fighting with them all season. I would speculate that Orlando City gets the most hyped/popular first pick, and NYCFC gets a slightly less-well-known or expected first round pick.
More talk about “diamonds in the rough”
You can’t have a SuperDraft without that particular phrase. You just can’t.
RSL will select someone no one has heard of
In 2013, RSL traded up a couple spots in the second round of the draft to select Devon Sandoval from the University of New Mexico. It’s entirely possible that, had they not done that, they still would have gotten him. Chatter during the draft was along the lines of “well they must’ve really wanted him” but there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of interest — he certainly was not one of the names discussed following the MLS Combine. Even more, RSL traded away their second round selection, so it’s their first round pick and then nothing until the third and fourth rounds, when most of the most desired players are taken. That suits RSL just fine for the types of players we draft, but that will also put a lot of pressure on this first round selection (16th overall). It’s possible that RSL trades away their first round selection for an early second round pick.
RSL’s first choice will be a defender
Forwards? We got ’em. Midfield? We’re pretty covered (especially if we go with 3 forwards as was hinted a while back by Del Loy Hansen). Defenders? Eek!
Losing Borchers and Wingert are not insubstantial losses. We have a new Jamaican left back who — I’m guessing — will likely get the starting slot over Mansally, but then there’s the whole Carlos Salcedo thing. Carlos probably would not have taken Borchers’ starting position after acquiring Jamison Olave again from New York, but behind Schuler and Olave we have Justin Glad and Aaron Maund (maybe). Another young defender (or two) will help if (or maybe when) Olave (or Schuler) get injured, especially if Glad is sent to the Monarchs (not sure how that will work exactly). And last I heard, Maund hasn’t actually re-signed yet. You can bet that RSL will be getting a defender in the draft.
Contrary to the doom-saying that’s been happening, I’m excited about 2015 (and not just because I have season tickets). I’m excited to see the league growing and I’m excited about the future of the team. This is where it starts and I can’t wait!