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MLS SuperDraft Primo Picks
January 18th, 2008 7AM

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Kansas City head coach Curt Onalfo, who holds the No. 1 pick in Friday's MLS SuperDraft (TV: ESPN2, live, 2 pm ET), believes this year's pool of players is relatively solid, yet readily admits his rival coaches might not share that opinion.

"It's something like beauty is in the eye of the beholder," says Onalfo, who traded defender Nick Garcia to expansion San Jose in exchange for the primo pick, which several sources say he is trying to trade. "It's not like last year, when, obviously, Maurice Edu was head and shoulders above the rest, but there are definitely players here who can help teams right away and a few who are worth getting for down the road."

Toronto took Edu with a first pick a year ago, and all he's done is win Rookie of the Year honors and play twice for the U.S. national team. There's no such slam-dunk this time around.

PECKING ORDER. If Kansas City trades the first pick, it could well be used on Virginia Tech forward Patrick Nyarko, one of 10 players signed by MLS to Generation Adidas contracts.

Several sources believe FC Dallas will take defender Julius James of Connecticut with the second pick, which might spark a run on defenders with Pat Phelan and Julian Valentin (Wake Forest), Andy Iro (UC Santa Barbara), Sean Franklin (Cal State Northridge), and Chance Myers (UCLA) all rated highly.

At the MLS Player Combine, U.S. U-18 Brek Shea dazzled with his pace and precision crossing, and one coach believes he could go high in the first round. Eric Avila (UC Santa Barbara) and Roger Espinoza (Ohio State) are also talented attackers and like Shea, are GAs.

Midfielder Peter Lowry (Santa Clara) played very well at the combine and is being looked at by those teams with multiple early picks: Real Salt Lake, Dallas, and Kansas City. But with the Quakes playing at Buck Shaw Stadium on the Santa Clara campus, might San Jose coach Frank Yallop take Lowry and use ample allocation money to shop for players?

REUNION. San Jose lost its MLS franchise after the 2005 season when operator-investor AEG moved it to Houston. The Dynamo won two straight titles, and the fans in San Jose got a new team when MLS granted a franchise last year to Oakland A's co-owners John Fisher and Lewis Wolff.

Houston will tune up for the Pan-Pacific Cup in Hawaii next month with two games against the revived Quakes on its way from Texas to the islands. Yallop coached the original Quakes to titles in 2001 and 2003; his former assistant Dominic Kinnear, who grew up in Northern California, coaches the Dynamo.

WHERE'S RUUD? He attended the Combine, but former Dutch international Ruud Gullit won't be at the SuperDraft. The Galaxy head coach is using the last weeks before the start of the MLS season to pack up and move his family from Europe.

President and general manager Alexi Lalas and director of soccer Paul Bravo were also at the combine and will make the Galaxy's selections.

Yallop and Kinnear have been discussing trades as well as the two-game series, with Yallop seeking players willing to return to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Yallop is trying to land former San Jose and MetroStar defender Ramiro Corrales from Norwegian club SK Brann, but he is not out of contract and his MLS rights are held by Houston.

ARENA, TOO? The swap of John Harkes for Eric Wynalda as soccer analyst for ESPN2 telecasts will be accompanied by the addition of Bruce Arena for a three-man booth, according to sources. JP Dellacamera has been offered the play-by-play job.

A source says this will be the team for MLS and U.S. Soccer men's telecasts, but an ESPN spokesman would not comment directly. Calls to Harkes' cell phone were not returned.

ZACH BACK. Zach Thornton, waived by Colorado after the 2007 season, has returned to New York, where he began his MLS career in 1996.

Click here for all the MLS Offseason Moves.

 

 



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