Thursday, January 17, 2008
Hindsight is 20/20 for 2007 draft
Most Major League Soccer coaches won't admit it, but choosing players in the MLS SuperDraft is one of the most inexact sciences in pro sports.
With the exceptions of New England coach Steve Nicol and Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston, most coaches and teams in the league have missed far more than they have hit when it has come to getting the most out of first-round draft picks.
The 2007 MLS SuperDraft actually saw some very good selections made throughout, but that doesn't mean several moves would be made differently if teams had a chance to do it over again. With the 2008 MLS SuperDraft just a day away (Friday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN2), here is a look at what the first round of last year's draft might have looked like if teams were able to have a do-over today:
1. Toronto FC -- Maurice Edu, M
One of the easiest decisions to make in recent MLS Draft history is an even easier decision to make today. Edu won MLS Rookie of the Year honors and has become a fixture on the U.S. national team.
2. Columbus Crew -- Robbie Findley, F
The Crew was in desperate need of a reliable goal scorer when it dealt this pick to the Chicago Fire for Costa Rican striker Andy Herron. The deal was a bust as Herron provided just four goals and two assists. With a chance to do it over, Columbus head coach Sigi Schmid would jump at the chance to nab Findley, who scored eight goals for Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake in 2007.
3. Kansas City Wizards -- Michael Harrington, D/MThe Wizards went into this draft needing help on the flank and scored well with Harrington, who became a fixture in Kansas City's starting lineup, first as a left back and finally as a left midfielder.
4. Real Salt Lake -- Chris Seitz, GKFew prospects came in with as much hype as Seitz and, while he didn't wind up playing much (three starts), Seitz impressed enough to earn his first U.S. national team call-up. Nick Rimando joined Real Salt Lake and played well but RSL still takes Seitz here because he is the best young goalkeeping prospect in the league.
5. New England Revolution -- Adam Cristman, FWhen the Revs dealt part of the Clint Dempsey allocation and a draft pick for this spot, it was regarded as far too high a price. New England didn't mind because it really liked right winger Wells Thompson. Now while Thompson played well for the Revs in 2007, New England tabs another of its players here in Cristman, who provided four goals and four assists.
6. Colorado Rapids -- Dane Richards, MFernando Clavijo drafted Nico Colaluca here with the hope of having him become a contributor on the wings. Colaluca never emerged as much of a threat and barely played last season. With a chance to do things over, Clavijo would jump all over Richards, who finished second in the MLS rookie of the year race and gave the Red Bulls a dangerous wing option all season. Yes, Richards plays the same right flank spot as Rapids standout Terry Cooke, but Clavijo could have used Richards on the left flank.
7. Chivas USA -- Bakary Soumare, D
The Goats' most pressing need heading into the 2007 draft was at forward. They wound up with the best tandem in the league in Ante Razov and Maykel Galindo, so it didn't matter as much that first-round pick John Cunliffe didn't turn into a goal machine. He did show some signs of being able to contribute in MLS but Chivas USA can't pass up the highly-talented Soumare, who showed great promise for Chicago in 2007.
8. Chicago Fire -- Wells Thompson, MThe Fire reached for a forward here when it grabbed Jerson Monteiro, but the rookie failed to impress and has already been shipped off to D.C. United. With a chance to do it over, Chicago would address its need for another wing player. Thompson emerged in the second half of the season as a starter for New England and proved to be a good threat on the right flank.
9. FC Dallas -- Andrew Boyens, D
The Hoops might be tempted to take the same player it actually took with this pick, U.S. U-20 defender Anthony Wallace, but Boyens showed his ability to step in and play well in MLS, even if it was for a struggling Toronto team. FC Dallas would prefer an attacking player here, but the 2007 draft was thin on good attacking options.
10. Toronto FC -- Ty Harden, DMo Johnston wanted some defensive help with this pick and, while Boyens is off the board, he can still grab a proven starter in Harden, who saw major minutes for the Galaxy as a rookie.11. D.C. United -- Anthony Wallace, D
As a team pretty set at all the starting positions, D.C. United went for a longer term prospect in the 2007 draft in U.S. U-20 midfielder Bryan Arguez. With Wallace still on the board, D.C. will have a tough call here. Taking Wallace, a left back who showed great promise at the U-20 World Cup, would make more sense.
12. New England Revolution -- Aaron Hohlbein, DThe Revs could have used some defensive depth in 2007, and still can, and Hohlbein showed in limited time with Kansas City that he was a capable MLS defender. He played well enough, in fact, to draw a U.S. Under-23 national team call-up.
13. Houston Dynamo -- Corey Ashe, MThe Dynamo landed a steal when it grabbed Ashe late in the third round, but Houston couldn't pull that off again. Ashe may be small (5-foot-6), but he showed in 2007 that he can play on the pro level. Injuries and national team call-ups gave Ashe a chance to impress and he did just that as a useful left winger.
With nine of last year's 13 first-rounders showing up on the do-over draft, it's fair to say that MLS coaches did a good job in 2007. Matching that feat this year, with a player pool filled with even more question marks than usual, will be a difficult one for coaches, many of which will be wishing they could have a do-over.Ives Galarcep covers MLS for ESPNsoccernet. He is a writer and columnist for the Herald News (N.J.) and writes a blog, Soccer By Ives. He can be reached at Ivespn79@aol.com.