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Galaxy rates tops in past three SuperDrafts
by Ridge Mahoney, January 7th, 2010 7AM

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[MLS] Rating the drafts strictly on how those picks pan out is misleading, because how a team uses its picks in trades and in conjunction with other mechanisms, such as allocation money, is eventually reflected in success, or lack of it. Still, glancing over past drafts is always illuminating. Since this is the fourth straight season an expansion team will enter the league, we'll concentrate on the last three SuperDrafts, each of which has featured a new team: Toronto (2007), San Jose (2008) and Seattle (2009), and next up is Philadelphia as the league's 16 th team.

Here's a ranking of how teams have done in the past three drafts, with highlights, and a few lowlights as well:

1. LOS ANGELES. Two Rookies of the Year in consecutive seasons - Omar Gonzalez last year, Sean Franklin in 2008 - is plenty to rate the top spot, yet there's also the outstanding AJ DeLaGarza and the reliable Kyle Patterson of the 2009 class, and 2007 picks of Robbie Findley, Tally Hall and Bobby Burling who were traded away to good effect.

2. NEW ENGLAND. The Revs' reputation for draft shrewdness is deserved, though 2008 pick Rob Valentino (No. 13 overall) didn't work out and he was traded to Colorado when 2009 selections Kevin Alston and Darrius Barnes took up starting spots as rookies. Wells Thompson (No. 5 overall in 2007) has been hampered by injuries and this is probably his last chance; the jury is still out on Amaechi Igwe (2007 GA pick at No. 12).

3. TORONTO FC. Last year's triple swoop of Sam Cronin (No. 2), O'Brian White (No. 4) and Stefan Frei (No. 13) bears great praise, but look at some pretty nice players who've gone elsewhere: Julius James, Mike Zaher, Pat Phelan, Andrew Boyens, and of course, Maurice Edu. You can argue maybe TFC didn't get enough in return, but on the basis of picking talent, Mo Johnston, et al, have done the business.

4. CHICAGO. Patrick Nyarko (No. 7 overall in 2008) is still learning the game and if he doesn't fade late in the season as he did last year, can rate as an excellent pick. If Cuauhtemoc Blanco doesn't return, Baggio Husidic (No. 20 in 2009) can show if he can shine. Defender Bakary Soumare (No. 2 in 2007 with a pick obtained from Columbus in exchange for Andy Herron) generated some transfer cash last summer when he went to France, and Mike Banner (No. 34 in 2007) has blossomed into a reliable performer.

5. HOUSTON. Quality over quantity is Dominic Kinnear's modus operandi. Corey Ashe (2007) has done all right and Geoff Cameron (2008) at No. 42 overall rates among the top picks in league history. Still on the scene is John Michael Hayden ('07) and maybe this year we'll see if former U.S. under-20 Daniel Cruz (No. 41 overall last year) needs another season of seasoning or is ready for the real thing.

6. COLORADO. This placing might be a bit of a surprise, given the last two drafts , but the 2007 additions of Omar Cummings, Nick LaBrocca and Greg Dalby - who came back to MLS after testing Europe - look pretty good. Ciarnan O'Brien (No. 5 overall in 2008) hasn't panned out and may try his luck overseas, and picks traded away were used for Chris Pontius (D.C. United) and Baggio Husidic (Chicago) last year.

7. DALLAS. It seems like FCD has been building for the future forever, but the emphasis on Generation adidas players - five were on the roster last year - should pay off this year. Anthony Wallace ('07) and Brek Shea ('08) have progressed nicely, 2009 selection Peri Marosevic got his feet wet last year, and Eric Avila - taken No. 19 overall in 2008 with a pick obtained from Colorado - has played 32 games in his first two seasons.

8. D.C. UNITED. Speaking of Pontius, and Rodney Wallace taken just before with United's normal pick, those picks boosted a rather poor record, though D.C. can't be blamed for taking the money when Hertha Berlin paid up 200,000 euros (about $250,000) for 2007 No. 11 overall pick Bryan Arguez. It waited while 2008 pick Andrew Jacobson labored in France before coming back; with a full preseason he can make or break his future with this team.

9. KANSAS CITY. The roster is dotted by picks who have given good value as starters or regulars: Matt Besler (No. 8) and Graham Zusi (No. 23) from last year; No. 11 Roger Espinoza and No. 25 Jonathan Leathers of the 2008 class, and Michael Harrington (No. 3) and Kurt Morsink (No. 42) dating back to 2007 era. Chance Myers hasn't been healthy enough long enough, perhaps, to justify his selection as the first overall pick in 2008.

10. SEATTLE. The Sounders had a good head start, with goalkeeper Kasey Keller, attacker Sebastian LeToux, and midfielder Freddie Ljungberg on board long before the draft. No. 1 pick Steve Zakuani didn't win Rookie of the Year Award yet certainly consternated enough defenses to merit praise. Second-round pick Evan Brown couldn't hold down a regular spot, fourth-round choice Michael Fucito is obviously talented. Coach Sigi Schmid used each of his four "natural" selections; will be jockey and juggle this time around?

11. COLUMBUS. The good: defender Andy Iro and forward Steven Lenhart in 2008, and Brad Evans - a linchpin of the championship team that year before he went to Seattle in the expansion draft - taken out of UC Irvine as the No. 15 overall pick in 2007. The not-so-good: last year's class: Paul Gerstenberger, Alex Grendi, Chris Clements.

12. NEW YORK. Sinisia Ubiparopovic (No. 33) has done well enough since arriving in 2007; the mercurial Dane Richards (No. 19 that year) is exasperated by management and may no longer scorch defenses for NYRB. In 2008, the No. 7 overall pick traded to Chicago was used on Pat Nyarko, No. 16 pick Eric Brunner has looked very good - for the Crew. Luke Sassano (No. 37 in 2008) lost ground last year, and a good 2009 choice - Jeremy Hall brightened an otherwise dismal season.

13. CHIVAS USA. Michael Lahoud (No. 9 overall last year) got enough time to prove his worth, but no team that has been around since 2007 has made fewer actual selections. And John Cunliffe with the No. 7 overall pick that year just plain stunk.

14. REAL SALT LAKE. The 2009 MLS Cup finalists are living proof you can do well without doing well in the draft, though what was obtained in return for keeper Chris Seitz (No. 4 pick as a GA in 2007) is mired in that murky allocation money. Defender Tony Beltran (No. 3 overall in 2008) has fought through injury to display some prowess, David Horst (No. 14) has played sparingly, and more time is needed for midfielder Alex Nimo (No. 17). Jean Alexandre at No. 12 last year is still a question mark but played just four games and went on loan, so who knows?

15. SAN JOSE. Only two drafts to evaluate but 15 wins in 60 games can be traced in part to using the No. 1 2008 pick in a trade for defender Nick Garcia, who lasted one and a half seasons and was traded to Toronto, and the No. 15 selection on midfielder Shea Salinas, a fan favorite and attacking catalyst lost to Philadelphia in the expansion draft. (He might be headed back, or not.) Last year's class produced midfielder Brad Ring, who missed the season through injury, and backup forward Quincy Amarikwa.

 

 



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