Thursday, January 12, 2012

MLS SuperDraft winners and losers

2012 will forever be known as the year offense reclaimed the MLS SuperDraft.

It's funny, I was all set to write about how somebody had poached a gem in Enzo Martinez, how some lucky team had taken the midfield attacking prize of the draft. But he kept falling. And falling. And falling. Somewhere Aaron Rodgers was smiling

How was this happening? I kept coming back to the Generation Adidas class that had accepted Martinez as its latest member. There weren't many surprises in the top 3. Wenger-Mattocks-Rowe could have gone in any combination and there will be few quibbles from Montreal, Vancouver and New England over their choices. There went three GA players. Forward Sam Garza fell to sixth for San Jose and UCLA forward Chandler Hoffman surprisingly fell to 13 for Philly. That would have been the steal of the draft if not for the albatross hanging from the line that nobody seemed willing to take. I kept coming back to it. How was Martinez still there?

The Rapids doomed themselves to a losing draft grade with the surprising pick of midfielder Tony Cascio at 14. Seattle opted for defense at 15 and SKC went for a forward (???) at 16, the last GA player left not named Enzo Martinez gone as the UNC stalwart kept falling. Even RSL's decision to finally snag him at 17 seemed backhanded. Cascio trained at the Real Salt Lake youth academy in Arizona and it was assumed Jason Kreis had his eye on the UConn midfielder instead of Martinez. But alas, Martinez was there and Kreis poached him. However he ended up in the land of Mormon, that's as perfect a fit as you'll find in this draft.

So it goes without saying that in a year where the first seven picks were midfielders or forwards, RSL is one of my winners. Here's my top three and bottom three teams and how they made out. Remember when taking these into account, MLS drafts are notoriously thin. It's not unheard of for late-round picks to make noise, but it's not the norm or anything close. So I weigh first-round picks much more heavily than in, say, an NFL or NBA draft.

Top 3

Vancouver Whitecaps (A)

Darren Mattocks was No. 1 on my draft board, so that he fell to No. 2 puts Vancouver in my good graces. It's hard to say Montreal whiffed too completely when they picked up a talent like Wenger, but Mattocks, a forward who will probably fit in on the right, has the face-of-a-franchise ability, and that's invaluable for a team still in search of an identity like the 'Caps. Chris Estridge has some question marks, mostly whether his size is enough to withstand the punishment of the league, but he projects as a solid fullback of the future. He can play on either side.

Real Salt Lake (A-)

Martinez was the steal of the draft. That he lasted until 17 should only motivate, and he'll fit in with Kreis' ethic perfectly. Throw out the idea that it took a handful of teams whiffing badly to allow this to happen. It only matters that he was there. Diogo de Almeida is a defender who can score, but he'll have a hard time cracking the XI at a place with two of the top three central defenders in the league. Sebastian Velasquez is probably a throw-away pick.

Philadelphia Union (B+)

Very impressed with what the Union were able to do with a mid-round pick. Chandler Hoffman is a Generation Adidas guy and will bring much-needed depth to a group of forwards that suddenly has all the draft pedigree in the world. Guys like Greg Jordan are a dime a dozen in MLS but it's nice to have holding midfielders with the ability to press high. He can do that occasionally. Jury is well out on Raymon Gaddis, who is a deep depth player for a strong defensive unit.

Bottom 3

New York Red Bulls (D)

The Red Bulls had a couple options robbed of them on this day thanks to a thin roster and lack of draft choices that doesn't allow much wheeling and dealing for picks. Which is really their fault in the first place. So they stuck with their one second-rounder and took Fordham keeper Ryan Meara. Er, what? I'm not suggesting that there were millions of viable picks midway through the second round, but picking up a keeper who has a struggle to even make the team is a head scratcher. Especially when there are so many needs elsewhere. What is with Erik Soler's goalkeeper fetish, anyway?

DC United (C)

DC had options at No. 7 - Chandler Hoffman, for one - but went with Louisville midfielder Nick DeLeon, whose stock fell through the basement at the combine. He showed up overweight, pulled his quad during testing and didn't impress in person or on the field. Ben Olsen either sees something we're missing or is drafting with the hope that the last month was an aberration. I can't say for certain it has been, and drafting on too much potential can burn you. 

Montreal Impact (C)

Darren Mattocks is the attacking jewel of the draft and one of the best forward prospects to take the stage in some time. How Montreal came to the conclusion that he didn't fit is something I can't understand. I can't penalize the Impact too heavily for taking Wenger, but the fact remains that nobody really knows what his position is yet. Salty defensive midfielders (if he even ends up as one) are much easier to find and nurture than are attackers with a mean streak, and I fear that's what Montreal passed up. Calum Mallace does not wow, either.

- Will Parchman


Jayboy said...

I believe that Tyler Polak was the last GA player left on the board as the 3rd pick of Rd 2. I think the Revs did pretty well with Rowe and Polak.

Will Parchman said...

Indeed, good call, I missed Polak. I believe they snuck him in just before the combine.

UnitedDemon said...

I'm a DC fan. We will curse the day we chose DeLeon over Martinez. Only one of them looks like a motivated juggernaut. For a team that spotted gave Najar a chance and drafted Pontius, this sucks.

jon said...

It's hilarious to me that both you and T.Clark list Montreal as losers for taking Wenger over Mattocks.

I, like everyone not named Jason Kreis, had never seen nor heard of Velasquez before, but he was at their combine recently so I doubt he's a throwaway.

The DeLeon pick for DC seems less about picking on potential than about picking on a body of work. It seems absurd to say his combine showing is a greater measure of his talent than all the other times he's performed.

dikranovich said...

wenger is maybe this years version of perry kitchen. versitile, strong, smart. jesse marsch was coached by bob bradley at princeton. isnt this the player bob bradley would choose over the more glamorous choice.

Will Parchman said...

Mattocks v Wenger is a matter of opinion. I think Montreal missed. I understand and accept that I'm not bringing everyone with me on that. Its less so because of Wenger's talent level and more so due to the need. Serviceable holding mids are a lot easier to find than forwards with the upside of a guy like Mattocks.

DeLeon is a funny story. You can look at his body of work, which is good, but he's clearly lacking in common sense, something you can't teach. How can you fully trust a guy who, knowing full well what's at stake, shows up to an important fitness test and talent showcase at half fitness and with a blasé attitude? You want to roll the dice on a guy like that over a workhorse like Martinez, be my guest. I'll take the workhorse.

jon said...

Fair enough.

dikranovich said...

could dc united be thinking about deleon as a left back?

College Park Addickted said...

Not privy to his performance at the Combine, but when something other than his personal career was at stake, DeLeon was fantastic. After sending Louisville through with the overtime game winner over Bradley, DeLeon blistered a well-organized and talented Maryland squad. I would guess that the DCU folks left Ludwig thinking the same thing we did: we came to see Rolfe and Berry and exited impressed by DeLeon's talent, skill, competitiveness, and drive.

Nicolas Dunbar said...

Yo Will you kind of missed on Meara and DeLeon. DeLeon has slowed a bit over the summer but he IS the real deal.

I had no idea who this Meara kid was so I would have sided with you on Meara ... but now ... he might have been the steal of this draft.