Thursday, January 12, 2012

The 2012 MLS SuperDraft Brings Few Surprises

Most surprising on the day of the MLS SuperDraft were the opening words spoken by Don Garber as he greeted the viewers and public... in French. His words were spoken in order to honor MLS newcomers and first to pick in the draft, the Montreal Impact. Beyond the initial surprise of that, the remainder of the draft left little in the way of talking points.

The Picks

With the first pick, the Montreal Impact selected Duke hyper-talent and Hermann Trophy winner, Andrew Wenger. Wenger was absent from the Combine due to international (U23) duty. Interestingly, the former Blue Devil is neither a defender or a striker. Rather, he is capable of playing both quite well. He was named ACC Offensive Player of the year in 2011 during which time he racked up 17 goals and eight assists in the span of 22 games.  Count Wenger as a great talent, but one that doesn't seem to be a perfect fit for Montreal. If Jesse Marsch is considering offers on Wenger, that suggests that he does not have distinct plans for the versatile number one. Many were caught up in the hoopla of the day's events to consider that, but keep in mind, if you're draft pick one and immediately shopped around, how confident and comfortable can you really be?

The second pick of the draft seemed to make much more sense. Darren Mattocks to Vancouver was a much more fitting matchup. The Whitecaps need a dynamic, speedy attacker to play alongside Hassli and put the ball in the net. Mattocks fits the bill and at 21, has plenty of time to grow. Couple that with the simple fact that Mattocks played at Akron. Caleb Porter and Akron have a proven track record of producing professionals. Count on Mattocks to be a solid player in Major League Soccer year one. Martin Rennie got it right. 

Coming in third were the New England Revolution who chose to bolster their midfield, which already boasts Benny Feilhaber and Shalrie Joseph, with Keyln Rowe out of UCLA. Rowe is also also a member of the U23 national team. It seems odd that the Revolution would add another midfielder so early when they so badly need a goal scorer. It could be their own undoing as the dynamic Chandler Hoffman would have been a perfect fit for the boys in Boston. Call it a missed opportunity. 

The draft choices were not especially notable throughout. The lack of Hoffman selection early on was a bit startling, however he seems an ideal fit with the Philadelphia Union, who added him with the 13th pick of the draft. Chandler is a proven goal scorer who will be able to instantly contribute to his team in MLS. 

Also interesting on the day was that no trades took place between squads. This doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it is interesting. 

For a full list of the draft selections, go here. 

Of Note, Kenny Cooper will be wearing a Red Bulls jersey come March. It seems an odd match-up for Cooper to be in New York and on some levels a loss for Portland. The awkward striker was happy in Portland and seemed a good fit for the team. However, a high price tag (roughly 250K) and immediate trade value (roughly 300K) made the move worthwhile for John Spencer's side. Cooper joins a Red Bulls team in turmoil as the downward spiral under Hans Backe continues. If the trend of poor performances reaches July, expect Hans Backe out. It is possible he's already overstayed his welcome as is, though word coming out of the NY camp is that Soler has yet to put him on notice... frustrating to be sure. 

What that means for NY strikers is unclear. Luke Rodgers is awaiting Visa renewal and it is unlikely the Red Bulls allow Thierry Henry to extend his loan past the current date. That leaves Juan Agudelo on the chopping block. It could also be though that after last year's ignorance of summer tournaments, Hans Backe realizes that Agudelo will be away on international duty with the Olympic team and full team. Still, Agudelo continues to draw transfer rumors from a variety of sources and potential destinations. At present I've hear on and off record comments linking teams as close as the Chicago Fire and as high up as Liverpool. Take Liverpool with a grain of salt. 

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