Union, Fire and Red Bulls earn plaudits at the SuperDraft
For a first draft, the Philadelphia Union handled the 2010 MLS draft like veterans.
The expansion team -- and host of the draft -- delivered a class filled with promise and potential, loading up on teenage prospects as well as college veterans.
Philadelphia got the ball rolling on its standout draft by pulling off a pair of pre-draft deals to land the No. 6 and No. 7 picks in the first round. With three of the first seven selections, the Union landed three young prospects who could end up being the cream of the 2010 crop.
Philadelphia was just one of three Eastern Conference teams to do well on draft day. Chicago and New York also walked away with impressive hauls that should help the East put up a better fight after finishing second best to the West in 2009. Here is a closer look at how all 16 MLS teams did on draft day:
Philadelphia Union (A+)
The Union didn't waste a single pick, grabbing value with each of their six selections. Danny Mwanga could provide an instant impact as a rookie forward, and Amobi Okugo is a highly rated central midfielder whose physical frame makes it hard to believe he is only 18.
U.S. U-17 star Jack McInerney is more of a long-term project, and Toni Stahl could wind up being a starter. Late-round additions Kyle Nakazawa and Brian Perk stand very good chances of making the roster.
Chicago Fire (A)
Aggressiveness may have paid off for Philadelphia, but it was planning and a touch of luck that helped the Fire land the second-strongest draft class in the field. Chicago didn't figure to get a dangerous attacking player at No. 13, but wound up landing the steal of the first round in Corben Bone, a projected top-5 player. Along with nabbing the draft's top playmaker, the Fire also grabbed the second-best central defender in Kwame Watson-Siriboe and arguably the best goalkeeper prospect in Generation adidas pick Sean Johnson. Throw in Drew Yates and Steven Kinney, two players who impressed at the MLS combine, and the Fire took a big step toward filling the gaps left by the departures of several key players this offseason.
New York Red Bulls (A-)
When you land the most exciting prospect in the draft with your first pick, you're on your way to a solid draft, but it was what the Red Bulls did in later rounds that could make their draft a memorable one.
Tony Tchani has the tools to step in and start in central midfield on a rebuilding New York team, and Wake Forest midfielder Austin da Luz was the best left foot in the draft pool as a left wing and central midfield option. The Red Bulls rounded out what was arguably the strongest draft from a technical standpoint by adding defender Tim Ream and a great sleeper pick in midfielder Irving Garcia.
Kansas City Wizards (B)
The Wizards entered the draft needing help at forward and landed one of the best available strikers in Teal Bunbury. Son of former K.C. striker Alex Bunbury, Teal is just 19 but already a solid prospect who should contribute in Year 1. The Wizards added some good defensive depth, as well, with big center back Nick Cardenas and fullback Ofori Sarkodie taken in later rounds.
San Jose Earthquakes (B)
The Earthquakes will walk away happy having landed a defender who could have been a No. 1 pick in other years in Ike Opara, a marauding fullback in Justin Morrow and a forward project in Andrew Hoxie.
Real Salt Lake (B-)
RSL gave up veteran Clint Mathis, but might have found a potential starter on the right wing in Collen Warner, a dynamic midfielder who was a bit of a sleeper before a strong combine showing turned heads. Defender Chris Schuler was a great selection in the third round, although forward turned defender Justin Davis was a bit of a reach in the second round.
FC Dallas (B-)
Schellas Hyndman landed a very versatile and useful player in Zach Loyd at No. 5, and he pocketed valuable allocation funds by dealing away the No. 6 pick. Grabbing Andrew Wiedeman in the second round could prove to be a steal, as could third-round midfielder Eric Alexander.
Drawbacks? Passing on Corben Bone could come back to haunt Dallas, as could selling a pick that wound up letting Philadelphia land Jack McInerney.
Reached for David Estrada, who could have been had in the second round, with Corben Bone still on the board. You can't really knock coach Sigi Schmid for taking the UCLA product or for taking a promising forward in a thin crop of forwards. Mike Seamon is a quality addition in the second round who could make up for the loss of Sebastien Le Toux.
Los Angeles Galaxy (C+)
How does the Galaxy score a decent grade with one pick? Los Angeles landed veteran midfielder Clint Mathis in a trade and acquired a gifted young midfielder in Michael Stephens.
Colorado Rapids (C+)
Considering the Rapids didn't have a first-round pick, they didn't do too poorly to land Andre Akpan, but that will be a benefit only if Akpan can improve on his awful combine showing. The same goes for midfielder Ross LaBauex. Chad Borak is a promising right back prospect.
Chivas USA (C ) With Paulo Nagamura reportedly heading to Mexico, Chivas USA needed a central midfielder and landed a promising one in Blair Gavin. The rest of the draft is forgettable, although Isaac Kissi has blazing speed and could be a good project at forward.
New England Revolution (C)
Passed on Corben Bone, but the Revs' dire need for forwards led to the selection of Zach Schilawski, a good forward who should get minutes right away. Seth Sinovic had a disappointing combine, but could provide an attacking threat at left back. Midfielder/forward Zak Boggs could wind up being a surprisingly good pick, but you have to worry about a player who has been to three colleges.
D.C. United (C-)
D.C. landed only one player in fullback Jordan Graye? True. However, the reality is D.C. also secured the services of goalkeeper Troy Perkins with the help of the No. 7 overall pick. The allocation and Brazilian midfielder Fred also helped get the deal done, so D.C.'s draft grade isn't completely saved, though.
Houston Dynamo (D+)
The Dynamo didn't have much to work with, but as we have seen in the past, Houston has a penchant for uncovering diamonds. UCSB striker David Walker should battle for a spot, and the Dynamo saved an intriguing pick for last in defender Euan Holden, brother of soon-to-be former Dynamo star Stuart Holden.
Columbus Crew (D)
Drafting midfielder Dilly Duka with the No. 8 pick could prove to be a masterstroke and saves the Crew from failing, but picking up Notre Dame striker Bright Dike with No. 12 was the worst pick in the first round. It's tough to recover from that blunder. Using a fourth-rounder on defender Kwaku Nyamekye could be a great bargain, but the Harvard product is rumored to be heading to Europe.
Toronto FC (F)
A year ago, Mo Johnston held three first-round picks and wound up keeping them all after holding court with the rest of the league. This year, it appears the league returned the favor as TFC proved unable to pull off any of its trademark wheeling and dealing. The result was Toronto drafting a project in U.S. U-17 defender Zachary Herold and defender/midfielder Nane Joseph. Herold is at least two years from helping, and Joseph looked awful as a midfielder and barely passable as a defender at the combine.
Ives Galarcep covers MLS for ESPNsoccernet. He also writes a blog, Soccer By Ives. He can be reached at Ivespn79@aol.com.