Monday, January 12, 2009
Lengthy shopping list for teams entering the draft
Perhaps it's only a coincidence that this year's MLS SuperDraft takes place on the same day as that holy grail of player movement, the opening of the league's international transfer window. Certainly, when it comes to restocking MLS rosters, the latter event has begun to overshadow the annual disbursement of collegiate and youth players.
All eyes will be on Sigi Schmid and Seattle who have the first pick. (Andy Mead/Icon SMI)
But make no mistake: When it comes to addressing the needs of each team, the draft and the transfer window loom large. Here are the holes each team will try to fill Thursday and in the coming weeks.
Seattle Sounders FC (picks 1, 16, 31 and 46)
The league's latest expansion entry requires help all over the field (except in goal, where Kasey Keller and Chris Eylander are already ensconced). This isn't a surprise, but with a Generation Adidas class full of attacking talent, expect head coach Sigi Schmid to grab a forward with the first pick, presumably Akron's Steve Zakuani. There also is a clear need for Seattle to add some defenders, as that is the thinnest position on the Sounders' budding roster, especially if Jeff Parke heads to Europe.Possible picks: Steve Zakuani, F, Akron (early); Calum Angus, D, St. Louis (later).
Toronto FC (picks 2, 4, 13, 34 and 39)
Probably the biggest question in Toronto at this point is whether Amado Guevara and Dwayne De Rosario can coexist. But with plenty of options in midfield, the TFC brain trust of manager Mo Johnston and head coach John Carver will look to fill out other parts of their roster, an achievable aim given their three first-round picks, one of which they might deal. Foremost among their requirements is a forward to partner Chad Barrett, especially because the Carlos Ruiz era is over ... after just a few blinks. The departures of defenders Julius James and Hunter Freeman also require finding some additional cover in the back. Possible picks: Omar Gonzalez, D, Maryland; O'Brian White, F, UConn.
Los Angeles Galaxy (picks 3, 33, 49 and 49)
Now that L.A.'s goalkeeping situation has solidified with the acquisition of Jamaican international Donovan Ricketts, Bruce Arena's goal is simple: Revamp the Galaxy's woeful back line, especially in the middle. The process has begun with the signing of former Portland Timbers defender Leonard Griffin, and using the third overall pick in similar fashion should be relatively straightforward. Although L.A. won't have another selection until the beginning of the third round, Arena has made a habit of finding some diamonds with his later picks. That could come in handy in fulfilling the team's other glaring necessity, finding a competent holding midfielder, although such a player most likely will come from abroad.
Possible picks: Gonzalez; Sam Cronin, F, Wake Forest; Rodney Wallace, D, Maryland.
FC Dallas (picks 5, 11, 18 and 27)
With four picks in the first two rounds, the Hoops will have ample opportunity to fill out their roster. Foremost among their needs is finding a left-sided midfielder, although the sight of Adrian Serioux playing right back last season screams for help in that spot as well. Because the Duilio Davino experiment has worked out only a smidgen better than the Denilson experiment, Dallas also could stand to acquire some help in the center of its defense.
Possible picks: Gonzalez; Jeremy Hall, M, Maryland; Kevin Alston, D, Indiana.
D.C. United (picks 6, 7, 21, 26 and 36)
The Black-and-Red's five picks should provide them with the kind of cover they would have killed for during their injury-ravaged 2008 season. With foreign imports Gonzalo Peralta and Gonzalo Martinez proving to be disappointments, United will be intent on bolstering its back line. The team appears to have plenty of midfield options -- thanks to the re-signing of Clyde Simms and Santino Quaranta -- and the fact that Jaime Moreno can't go on forever (or can he?) means finding some help up top would be a boon as well. With head coach Tom Soehn consuming Tums at an alarming rate whenever Louis Crayton is in goal, United also would be wise to acquire some goalkeeping help.Possible picks: Alston; Stefan Frei, G, California.
Kansas City Wizards (picks 8, 22, 23, 42 and 50)
2008 was supposed to be the year that the Wizards scored big in the draft, but the jury is still out on first-round picks Chance Myers and Roger Espinoza. Will the Wizards fare better in 2009? Now that central defender Tyson Wahl is wearing Seattle green, they'll need to. Davy Arnaud chipped in well as a central midfielder, but finding a guy to control the attacking tempo would free Arnaud to be at his havoc-creating best. Obtaining a speedy option up top, the better to complement hulking players like Abe Thompson and Adam Cristman as well as provide cover for the perpetually injured Josh Wolff, seems a must.Possible picks: Baggio Husidic, M, Illinois-Chicago; Daniel Cruz, M, UNLV.
Chivas USA (picks 9 and 19)
Speaking of perpetually injured, that about describes the Goats' entire complement of forwards. That said, Chivas has more pressing needs that include finding a long-term replacement for Sacha Kljestan, who is attracting considerable interest from Europe. Adding some more speed to its back line would also be plus, and adding another goalkeeper would help as well. Dan Kennedy was decent, mind you, but the team needs some more competition in that area. The loan of Panchito Mendoza to parent club CD Guadalajara means the Goats also could use some help on the left side of midfield.
Possible picks: Husidic; Frei.New England Revolution (picks 10, 15, 24, 25, 38, 40 and 55)
With the Revs in the midst of a considerable transition period, the Nostradamus-like draft powers of head coach Steve Nicol will be put to the test. Michael Parkhurst is now in Denmark, meaning Nicol will be intent on acquiring defensive help, especially if playing Gabriel Badilla doesn't work out. Finding a left-sided midfielder to replace the enigmatic Khano Smith also would give the Revs a boost. Nicol loves players from Wake Forest, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see one or both needs filled by Demon Deacons.Possible Picks: Yohance Marshall, D, University of South Florida; Michael Lahoud, M, Wake Forest.
Real Salt Lake (picks 12, 54 and 57)
Befitting a team on the rise, RSL has accumulated some impressive depth, especially in the back. But with Dema Kovalenko perhaps on the move, and with the team's waiving several midfielders (including onetime No. 1 overall pick Nik Besagno), finding some help in the center of the park will be of utmost importance to coach Jason Kreis' side. In particular, the left side, where Will Johnson was forced to play out of position, needs improving. To fill the team's other glaring hole, a go-to striker to partner Yura Movsisyan, Real Salt Lake almost certainly will look overseas.Possible picks: Cruz; Peri Marosevic, F, Michigan.
New York Red Bulls (picks 14, 29 and 44)
The Red Bulls' most pressing requirement is all about signing the team's Mr. Fix-it, Dave van den Bergh, and recent media reports indicate progress is being made on that front. But even if the Dutchman signs, New York finds itself with plenty of holes to fill, an odd position for an MLS Cup finalist. The departures of Jeff Parke, Diego Jimenez and Gabriel Cichero cry out for shoring up the center of defense, despite the acquisition of Mike Petke and the re-signing of Carlos Mendes. Finding a partner for Juan Pablo Angel also remains a priority, as does finding some attacking help in the center of midfield.
Possible picks: Angus; White.
San Jose Earthquakes (picks 17 and 32)
At first glance, beefing up the Quakes' front line, which produced only 15 goals last season, is tops on San Jose's wish list. But general manager John Doyle is actively combing the overseas market, and no fewer than three forwards are on his radar. That means come draft day, the Quakes may end up looking for more defensive-minded players. Doyle expects Francisco Lima to return, but adding another holding mid as a long-term replacement for the Brazilian might be the way to go. James Riley's departure to Seattle also means the wide defender positions need augmenting. And after Joe Cannon, the goalkeeping contingent is woefully short on experience and quality.
Possible picks: Chris Pontius, F, Cal-Santa Barbara; Lyle Adams, D, Wake Forest.
Colorado Rapids (picks 20, 35, 37, 47, 51 and 53)
Unfortunately for Rapids head coach Gary Smith, his biggest need -- somehow shedding all or part of Christian Gomez's anvil-like salary -- isn't likely to happen in this lifetime, never mind on draft day. That leaves the Englishman to make do with six picks, most of which are in the draft's later rounds. But all is not lost, as Smith still might find a defender or two to reinforce the outside back positions. As for finding more attacking help, that likely will have to wait for another day.Possible picks: Adams; Angus.
Chicago Fire (picks 28, 43, 52 and 58)
The Fire historically have done well in the draft, but without a first-round pick this year, they'll have to look overseas to find an impact player. Chicago was solid in the center of defense last season, but with both Wilman Conde and Bakary Soumare possibly on the move, Denis Hamlett would be wise to reinforce his defensive core. The attack appears well-balanced and deep, despite its advancing age in the form of Brian McBride and Cuauhtemoc Blanco.
Possible picks: Michael Holody, D, Michigan; Chris Clements, D, Tulsa.
Columbus Crew (picks 30, 45 and 60)
So whom does the team that has everything pick? It was thought the Crew would be in the market for a central defender, but given Chad Marshall's somewhat surprising decision to re-sign with Columbus, that is no longer a concern. Instead, finding some cover for wide players Robbie Rogers and Eddie Gaven is tops on Robert Warzycha's wish list, especially if Emmanuel Ekpo's services are needed in the middle. The outside backs could stand to be reinforced as well.
Possible picks: Kyle Patterson, M, St. Louis University; Dylan Curtis, M, Cal-Davis.
Houston Dynamo (picks 41 and 56)
Because the Dynamo picked up Julius James in the Dwayne De Rosario deal, Houston is better able to cope with the possible loss of defender Bobby Boswell, leaving head coach Dominic Kinnear to focus on his most glaring need, finding a partner for Brian Ching. Alas, with no picks in the first two rounds, the Houston manager will have to look elsewhere to solve his attacking issues. Kinnear will gladly settle for finding some help at the outside back positions, where Richard Mulrooney is a good, but not great, fill-in. Providing some depth behind Brian Mullan would be a plus.
Possible picks: Anyone bearing a passing resemblance to last year's diamond in the rough, Geoff Cameron.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPNsoccernet. He also writes for Centerlinesoccer.com and can be reached at email@example.com.