With hundreds of NSCAA Coaches' Convention attendees roaming in and out of the ballroom staging the 2007 MLS SuperDraft and sections of Columbus and Chicago fans waving scarves, chanting and cheering - or booing - certain selections, the league began its first full day of the Beckham Era.
Wells Thompson of Wake Forest.
Brilliant move or wasted pick? Only time will tell.
Toronto took LA's other pick for half a major allocation, and selected
towering (6-foot-5 defender Andrew
Boyens, one of only six non-Generation adidas players taken in
the first round of 13 selections. By the time FC Dallas had nabbed
15-year-old Abdus Ibrahim with
the first pick of the second round, all eight GA players - out of 14
selections - had been taken.
Coach Frank Yallop, who trimmed nearly half the players on the Galaxy
roster after taking over in early June, is far from finished
transforming the 2004 champion that missed the playoffs for the first
time last year.
"I felt we could give up the two picks, because $250,000 is a lot of
money in this league," he said. It could certainly be used to lure
midfielder Eddie Lewis from Leeds United back to his Southern
Yallop still came away with five new players. He's planning to use
Beckham in the middle, not on the right flank where he has flourished
for most of his career. "I want him involved and around the ball as
much as possible," says Yallop, whose transformation of San Jose from
doormat to dynamo in the 2001 season was forged by shrewd use of that
Forward Robbie Findlay,
midfielder Josh Tudela and
defender Ty Harden were
selected in the second round. Goalkeeper Tally Hall and forward Bobby Burling were taken in the
Findlay is an athletic, robust forward who could see considerable
playing time with Landon Donovan and perhaps Nate Jaqua slated for national team
duty. He can also play wide in midfield. Tudela is a holding
midfielder, "a good connector" says Yallop. "Pete Vagenas does that for
us, but I believe you can't have enough of those good players. We don't
want to miss a beat when we have players injured and we did last year."
Harden is a big, rugged defender that has been scouted several times by
assistant coach Paul Bravo.
Expansion team Toronto FC started the draft as expected, picking
midfielder Maurice Edu, a
physical, talented midfielder who has been likened to Shalrie Joseph
but can play in a lot of places.
"He's a good passer, he can play on the right, he can play in the
middle, he can play on the left, whatever you tell him," says Toronto
coach Mo Johnston. "He could play right back. He can play soccer and
he's a clever kid. He has that No. 1 target on his back and he'll
handle that easily."
Johnston had traded away his second round pick to land midfielder Ronnie O'Brien from FC Dallas. He
chose Canadians with his last two picks: midfielder Rich Asante and forward Jeff Gonsalves. Despite having
added playmaking midfielder Jose
Cancela to the roster, Johnston has just 16 players.
THE NEW CREW. Columbus
traded the No. 2 pick to Chicago, which chose, as expected, defender Bakary Soumare. He and Edu were
perceived to be the Generation adidas players to be taken earliest. In
return, Columbus got Costa Rican striker Andy Herron, who had sometimes
seemed lost in the Fire shuffle of attacking players: Jaqua, Chad
Barrett, Chris Rolfe, Justin Mapp.
"He's got big-time pace and with Joseph Ngwenya, Jacob Thomas and
Ricardo Virtuoso, we present some problems to teams,' says Sigi Schmid
of Herron. "He's a little bit of a solo forward the way he plays on his
own but he can unbalance a defense. When he steps on the field, teams
have to be aware of his pace and ability to go against people one-v-one
is something you have to be aware of as well."
Schmid used all three of his remaining picks on forwards -- Aaron Chandler, Brad Evans and Ben Hunter - even though the return
of Brian McBride seems a good bet. Still unclear is whether Chilean
defender Marco Gonzalez will be back but Schmid did not address that
possibility in the draft.
After the Revs took Thompson, Colorado used the No. 6 pick on Nico Colaluca, a wonderfully
talented playmaker and perhaps the most skilled of the GA players.
"Some people look at his size [5-foot-9, 150 pounds] and maybe don't
like him," says Rapid coach Fernando Clavijo, "but I don't look at
size. I look at the player, and he is a very good player."
Clavijo traded his one of his second-round picks to FC Dallas for
defender Greg Vanney, whom he
says will play left back. "I have been trying to get him for a year and
a half, but we couldn't get a deal done last year," says Clavijo, who
used the other second-round slot to nab former U.S. U-20 Greg Dalby, an all-American holding
midfielder in college who could play center back in MLS if he doesn't
catch on in Europe. "It was a risk taking Dalby," says Clavijo, "but a
good risk." Forward Omar Cummings,
goalkeeper Justin Hughes and
midfielder Nick LaBrocca are
On hand in Indianapolis to handle the draft for Chivas USA was
assistant coach Preki, who seemed pleased with whatever coaching
decision had been made in the wake of Bob Bradley's departure. A
coaching announcement is expected early next week. With the No. 7 pick,
Preki took a player somewhat cut from his own mold, Englishman John Cunliffe, and also swung a
trade to land former U-17 star David
Arvizu from Red Bull New York, where his pro career has been
rocky. Defender Cameron Dunn,
like Arvizu a Southern California product, was taken in the fourth
Cunliffe's time on the youth teams of Manchester United and Blackburn
didn't pan out, so he opted for tiny Division II Fort Lewis College in
Durango, Colo. His blend of creativity and finishing lit up the combine
after he amassed 75 goals and 62 assists in 86 games.
"John is a very technical left-footed player who can play in various
attacking positions," said Preki, who might as well have been talking
about himself. "Cameron is a solid defender who can play centrally or
as a fullback. And David is a promising young forward who has already
shown his quality with the U.S. U-17's."
Aside from moving up to take Soumare, Chicago didn't thrill its
boisterous fans with popular picks. Still, UAB forward Jerson Monteiro, taken eighth, could
be a surprise for a team with a good history of drafting
attackers. Midfielders Mike
Banner and Nate Norman and
forward Simon Omekanda round
out the list. Rumors the team has inquired about former Czech
international Pavel Nedved as a Designated Player had a few tongues
FC Dallas, whose pursuit of rugged Dutch midfielder Edgar Davis sparked
much of the SuperDraft buzz, took GA defender/midfielder Anthony Wallace with the No. 9 pick.
He's expected to battle for a starting central defender slot with
Adrian Serioux, Clarence Goodson and Drew Moor. Forwards Ryan Guy and Tommy Krizanovic and high-scoring
midfielder Scott Jones were
also picked, so obviously Coach Steve Morrow isn't putting all of the
attacking burden on Carlos Ruiz, Kenny Cooper, and Ramon Nunez.
Kansas City had only three picks, and used the No. 3 slot on defender Michael Harrington, a left back
whose propensity to get forward delights many coaches and shocks a few
others. "I started out in college outside midfielder and halfway
through I switched to the back," said Harrington. "I've had to learn
that position and in the last year or so I've kind of perfected that
position. But I still have to continue to learn defending and knowing
the right times to attack."
Recently hired head coach Curt Onalfo also picked up forward Edson Elcock and midfielder Kurt Morsink.
Real Salt Lake, whose negotiations with former D.C. keeper Nick Rimando have stalled, took U-20
keeper Chris Seitz at No. 4.
"We think in a few years he could be challenging for a spot on the
national team," says Real coach John Ellinger, who coached Seitz with
the under-17s in Bradenton. "He'll be with the U-20s and might miss a
month or so, but we expect him to really push Scott Garlick for that
Ellinger used his only remaining pick on former U-20 Steven Curfman, who was unable to
keep a regular starting spot at Wake Forest this past season.
ACC REUNION. New England
took its natural first-round pick (No. 12 overall) on GA and U-20
defender Amaechi Igwe, who
left Santa Clara after his freshman year. He's also used his tremendous
speed in midfield. The Revs loaded up on ACC players with their six
selections. They took Thompson's Wake Forest midfield teammate Ryan Solle, Duke defender Kyle Helton and Virginia forward Adam Cristman. And that's not all!
Midfielder Bryan Byrne was
also taken by Coach Steve Nicol, whose choices were apparently shaped
by a decision not to approve a sale of Joseph to Glasgow Celtic.
Red Bull New York, somewhat impaired with just two picks, used them on
attackers: Jamaican forward Dane
Richards and midfielder Sinisa
Ubiparipovic. For a team that just squeaked into the playoffs
last season, that ain't much, but the transfer of former U.S.
midfielder Claudio Reyna from Manchester City is done.
Defending champion Houston chose last in each round and selected, in
order, midfielders John Michael Hayden
and Corey Ashe, forward Mike Sambursky and mid Eric Ebert.
Hayden comes from the successful Indiana program and Ashe is a
left-sided attacker. Coach Dominic Kinnear has no pressing need to
change a strong squad, of course, but wasn't averse to discussing
deals. "A lot of people are talking," he said before the draft, "but
they aren't talking to me. I don't need to do any deals and I'm willing
to talk, but if nobody wants to, that's fine."
With just about everyone present basking in a Beckham afterglow, and
ESPN2 cranking out a first-class production, it was a fine day for a