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Team-by-team MLS SuperDraft Preview
January 17th, 2008 6:45AM

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Ridge Mahoney on the MLS SuperDraft
How can MLS teams give themselves a boost from Friday's draft? Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney provides analyses of each club's needs, their options and the possible moves they might make before the SuperDraft Friday in Baltimore. Here are the teams listed in reverse order of their regular-season finish in 2007, starting with the expansion Quakes, which Tuesday traded the top pick to Kansas City in exchange for defender Nick Garcia.

SAN JOSE
Status: Coach Frank Yallop has built from the back, nabbing keeper Joe Cannon from Los Angeles in a trade and claiming several defenders as well as goalie Preston Burpo in the expansion draft. One of those defenders, Clarence Goodson, signed with Norwegian club Start, so Yallop swapped the No. 1 pick for for Kansas City veteran Nick Garcia, who can play alongside Ryan Cochrane in the middle

Needs: There's a whole squad to fill out. Yallop still has most of his allocation money and after trading for Garcia, has only one pick left.

Picks:
15th.

Possible moves: Midfielder Peter Lowry of Santa Clara has local ties, and he can play. No one will be surprised if Yallop swaps a few 2009 picks and cash to flesh out the roster with warm bodies.

TORONTO FC
Status: Injuries decimated this team in its expansion season and some of the players who were being counted on for significant contributions, like Andy Welsh, didn't pan out. But with striker Danny Dichio, captain Jim Brennan, Rookie of the Year midfielder Maurice Edu and a few other promising youngsters there's something to build on.

Needs: Goalkeeping, central defense, wide midfield, and depth.

Picks:
9th, 19th, 30th, 35th.

Possible moves: Unless he can trade up, Coach Mo Johnston won't get a crack at the best of the best.

REAL SALT LAKE
Status:
A moderate push in the final one-fourth of the season fueled optimism for this, RSL's fourth season. The three midseason Argentine additions - Fabian Espindola, Matias Mantilla and Javier Morales -- are all expected back, and Robbie Findley and Nathan Sturgis can be expected to up their contributions in the second and third seasons, respectively. This is the season Yura Movsisyan makes his case, or else.

Needs: Obviously, replacing defender Eddie Pope and possibly Andy Williams, who is still on the squad but looks like excess baggage.

Picks:
3rd,14th, 17th, 37th.

Possible moves: Coach Jason Kreis learned some of the ropes last season, but this is his first SuperDraft. His margin for error is razor-thin.


LOS ANGELES
Status:
Three players (Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Carlos Ruiz) tie up nearly one-half of the salary cap (approximately $2.2 million) and a chunk of allocation money went to Dallas for Ruiz, so how can Coach Ruud Gullit fill out the roster? "Creative ways," says president and GM Alexi Lalas. "Lots of role players," says someone else.

Needs: Steve Cronin is probably ready to step in as the starting keeper. Aside from Beckham, Los Angeles has a flaccid selection of flank midfielders. Can it do better than Pete Vagenas as holding midfielder? Let's hope so. Ruiz or no Ruiz, the forward line is thin.

Picks:
4th, 21st, 28th, 29th, 34th, 46th, 51st.

Possible moves: Generation adidas players don't count against the cap but if Gullit wants more than one of the college crop he needs to trade up.


COLORADO
Status:
Added defender Jose Burciaga Jr. from Kansas City in a trade this week and faces another mediocre season of no progress unless more daring moves are made.

Needs: Must address the departure of Kyle Beckerman, who left a gaping hole in central midfield, and can certainly shore up the defense with that No. 5 pick.

Picks:
5th, 36th, 47th, 49th.

Possible moves: With only one early pick, if coach Fernando Clavijo can't trade for another one, he's almost obligated to take the best player available and shop him if needed. Is Pablo Mastroeni the bait?

COLUMBUS
Status:
The Crew has many decent players but very few really good ones. Giullermo Barros Schelotto has special qualities but will he produce without a new contract?

Needs: If the addition of Brian Carroll stabilizes central midfield, the Crew can shore up its wide midfield slots as well as the front line. It can't rely on Schelotto, Frankie Hejduk and Alejandro Moreno to break down the best teams.

Picks: 6th, 20th, 48th.
 
Possible moves: Jay-Jay Okocha is rumored to be the team's desired.

DP. Good luck with that.

CHICAGO
Status:
Longtime assistant coach Denis Hamlett takes over a squad of players he knows well, yet midseason additions Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Wilman Conde are vital figures. If Conde follows Coach Juan Carlos Osorio to New York, Hamlett must replace him and retired linchpin Chris Armas.

Needs: Scoring by committee - Chad Barrett led the team with seven goals -- didn't work so well, so Hamlett is in the market for goalscorers that can maximize the opportunities created by Blanco and perhaps generate more consistency from the returnees. Out-of-contract Matt Pickens has gone on trial with Norwich City but is continuing to negotiate with the Fire, so who knows?

Picks: 7th, 12th, 26th, 38th, 40, 54th.

Possible moves: Hamlett will take the best available player with his first pick if he's an attacker.

KANSAS CITY
Status:
Three starters left within three days: Eddie Johnson departed for England to discuss a deal with Fulham, and defenders Nick Garcia and Jose Burciaga Jr. were traded. The slate ain't blank, but it has some wide open spaces. Coach Curt Onalfo says he'll tinker with a 3-5-2 formation to give Argentine midfielder Carlos Marinelli more freedom.

Needs: A defender-rich SuperDraft gives Coach Onalfo plenty of options to re-shape his back line, yet he believes Tyson Wahl and Aaron Holbein can slide right in. He's been scouting in South America as well and would like to field someone who can play out of the back.

Picks: 1st, 11th, 23rd, 25th, 39th, 53rd.

Possible moves: With four of the first 25 picks Onalfo has some negotiating power to build from within the league as well.

RED BULL NEW YORK
Status:
Questions abound for a new head coach in Juan Carlos Osorio, a productive DP in Juan Pablo Angel, and a fiery force in Dema Kovalenko. All are obsessed with success, which hopefully will rub off on everybody.

Needs: As was the case in Chicago, Osorio will first strengthen the defense. A revolving-door on the back line contributed to the 45 goals RBNY conceded. A central defender, a left-sided midfielder and a playmaker are on his shopping list. He also needs more depth in midfield and consistent service for Angel and Jozy Altidore.

Picks: 16th, 32nd, 44th.

Possible moves: The best defenders in the draft will be gone unless RBNY trades up yet Osorio is looking at foreign help in the back. (See: Chicago.) Kovalenko is also coveted by a few teams but with Joe Vide gone in the expansion draft there are holes in midfield.

FC DALLAS
Status:
By off-loading Ruiz, signing defender Duilio Davino, and freeing up the DP slot it used for Denilson, FCD has significantly restructured its team. Arturo Alvarez has been re-signed but his inconsistency might prompt FCD to find an alternative.

Needs: With the cap space and allocation money it received in exchange for Ruiz, FCD has the resources available to upgrade the forward corps and back line. It must add at least one more quality player at each position to join the league's elite.

Picks: 2nd, 8th, 19th, 22nd, 31st, 45th, 50th.

Possible moves: By keeping its first-round picks, Dallas could take a first-team all-American defender and a GA attacker. Trading Alvarez is also an option.

NEW ENGLAND
Status:
Not many teams that reach two straight finals incur so much change or controversy. Andy Dorman left for Scotland; the club blocked Taylor Twellman's transfer while leaving Pat Noonan option-less and somewhat free to find another opportunity; James Riley went to San Jose in the expansion draft.

Needs: Midfield depth to support Steve Ralston and Khano Smith, a forward to back up Twellman and Adam Cristman in case Noonan leaves, a versatile player a la Riley.

Picks: 13th, 18th, 27th, 41st, 55th.

Possible moves: Coach Steve Nicol is the Draft Master, and he's pushing the envelope a bit with Noonan. He'll add depth in midfield, certainly.

HOUSTON
Status:
The Dynamo added three regulars - Joseph Ngwenya, Richard Mulrooney and Nate Jaqua  - to its 2006 championship team, and needed every one of them to repeat. Bobby Boswell, acquired from D.C. United, is first choice to replace Ryan Cochrane (lost in the expansion draft), but he'll get a stiff challenge from part-time starter Pat Ianni.

Needs: Depth up front, as Paul Dalglish is one of the few departees. If Stuart Holden earns a spot on the Olympic team another midfield presence would help.

Picks: 42nd, 54th.

Possible moves: There's precious little to bargain with, but count on head coach Dominic Kinnear to unearth another impact player.

CHIVAS USA
Status:
Stung by late-season injuries to Ante Razov and Maykel Galindo, Coach Preki has traded for Atiba Harris (Real Salt Lake) and a deal with Toronto for Alecko Eskandarian is pending.

Needs: Preki juggled his defensive corps well last season but another solid defender would help. Glasgow Celtic hasn't given up on keeper Brad Guzan, so Preki has to ponder alternatives. Francisco Mendoza had been rumored to be going back to Mexico; that hasn't panned out yet a more consistent left-sided mid could sneak into the starting lineup. And Jesse Marsch, bless his heart and soul, can't go on forever.

Picks: 43rd.

Possible moves: There's always options at the parent club south of the border.

D.C. UNITED
Status:
Pending negotiations with Argentine forward Franco Niell, Colombian defender Gonzalo Martínez, and Peruvian goalkeeper Jose Carvallo, the makeover will be extensive, even if Fred, Jaime Moreno and Christian Gomez all show up fit and healthy.

Needs: Starved of draft picks, and needing to fill holes everywhere, if the negotiations fall into place, D.C. can look for backups around the league if not in the draft. Can it afford to trade Gomez to bring in a proven commodity?

Picks: 33rd, 52nd.

Possible moves: D.C. might not have much allocation money left if it signs all three South Americans.

 



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