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MLS tweaks the Draft
by Ridge Mahoney, January 6th, 2011 11:21PM

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[MLS] The MLS SuperDraft has been cut from four rounds to three, with the Supplemental Draft returning after a two-year hiatus. Each will be three rounds. Just why this is being done hasn’t been clarified; in its statement released Tuesday confirming the new format, MLS simply said feedback from coaches and general managers steered it in this direction.

The Supplemental Draft will be held by conference call Jan. 18, five days after 54 players are selected in the SuperDraft at the Baltimore Convention Center on Thursday.

The league can also sign up more players between the drafts, though the teams are not obligated to draft players currently under contract. The presence of a second draft might deter players from taking a stab overseas or in the U.S. lower divisions if they aren’t selected in the SuperDraft, but just as likely is that teams will elect to pass rather than pick in the later rounds, as has often occurred with past Supplemental Drafts.

Changing the format required the league to do something with SuperDraft fourth-round picks used in trades; logically, what was the SuperDraft fourth round will become the first round of the Supplemental Draft.

MLS has increased the maximum roster size to 30 players, yet with more liberal rules regarding the signing of academy and Homegrown players as well as the discovery-player and Designated Player options, adding in effect two more rounds during which to draft players may not be significant. There are so many other mechanisms by which to acquire players – especially in light of the moves made in the wake of the Expansion Draft and Re-Entry Draft last month – the influence of this year’s drafts won’t be known for several months.

By trading Nathan Sturgis to Toronto after claiming him from Seattle in the Expansion Draft, Vancouver added the eighth overall pick to its natural selections at Nos. 1, 19, and 37. Just as naturally, the Whitecaps brain trust is coyly deflecting inquiries about the chances of it trading the No. 1 selection.

No other trades involving first-round picks have been conducted. Last year, the expansion Union used the No. 1 overall pick on Oregon State forward Danny Mwanga, and on draft day traded up to nick the sixth and seventh selections as well.

Portland has the second selection in the first and second rounds, and also has the No. 4 pick in round two, which it acquired by claiming Arturo Alvarez in the Expansion Draft and shuffling him to Real Salt Lake. It traded the second pick in the SuperDraft third round (No. 38 overall) to New York for Jeremy Hall.

As of Friday, as four teams of prospective players finished preparations for three days of play at the MLS Combine in Lauderhill, Fla., here is the 2011 SuperDraft order:

ROUND ONE.
1. Vancouver. 2. Portland. 3. D.C. United. 4. Chivas USA. 5. Philadelphia. 6. New England. 7. Houston. 8. Vancouver. 9. Chicago. 10. Sporting Kansas City. 11. Seattle. 12. Columbus. 13. New York. 14. Real Salt Lake. 15. San Jose. 16. Los Angeles. 17. FC Dallas. 18. Colorado.

ROUND TWO. 19. Vancouver. 20. Portland. 21. Seattle. 22. Portland. 23. Philadelphia. 24. New England. 25. New York. 26. Toronto. 27. Seattle. 28. Columbus. 29. Seattle. 30. New York. 31. D.C. United. 32. Sporting Kansas City. 33. San Jose. 34. Los Angeles. 35. Dallas. 36. Colorado.

ROUND THREE. 37. Vancouver. 38. New York. 39. New England. 40. Chivas USA. 41. Philadelphia. 42. New England. 43. Toronto FC. 44. Toronto FC. 45. Chicago. 46. Sporting Kansas City. 47. Seattle. 48. Columbus. 49. Chicago. 50. Los Angeles. 51. Chicago. 52. Real Salt Lake. 53. FC Dallas. 54. New England.


* Seattle acquired a conditional pick in the 2011 or 2012 SuperDraft from Chicago in the Freddie Ljungberg trade; how that pick is to be used has not been determined by the teams. Ljungberg has since left MLS to sign with Glasgow Celtic.



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