Cut from four rounds to three, the 2011 MLS SuperDraft staged Thursday in Baltimore produced a typical mix of early Generation adidas picks and a few surprises. While the draft is just one method by which teams build their rosters, and more pieces have yet to be moved in the two weeks before preseason training begins, here’s a quick look at who did what, and why.
The teams are listed in order of when they made their first selection, with most mention given to the earlier picks:
1. and 8. VANCOUVER. Perhaps nettled by Darlington Nagbe’s snub of the MLS Combine, the Whitecaps took U.S. U-20 forward Omar Salgado at No. 1, and picked up Michael Nanchoff, one of five Akron Zips taken in the first round, at No. 8. Nanchoff should contribute in his rookie season. Salgado's immediate future depends on getting permission from FIFA to move to Vancouver before his 18th birthday and conflicts with the U-10s.
2. PORTLAND. The Timbers took Nagbe at No. 2, passing up the chance to get Perry Kitchen, and traded away one of their second-round picks to Seattle for allocation money. Nagbe gives them a presence up front but there’s yet to be signed a proven pro goalscorer on board (though they hope to announce the signing of Kenny Cooper shortly). The Timbers got some defensive help with the other second-round pick in Chris Taylor.
3. D.C. UNITED. A team that needs just about everything gets a superb yet versatile player in Kitchen, who plays an incredible mature game for a player with just one season of college experience.
4. and 14. CHIVAS USA. Just days into his career as a head coach, Robin Fraser addressed two pressing needs by taking defender Zarek Valentin with the original pick and sending allocation money to RSL for the No. 14 slot and forward Victor Estupinan, the first of four foreign Combine players to be taken. Both should prove to be excellent selections.
5. PHILADELPHIA. The Union’s preference for young talent led it to U-20 keeper Zac MacMath, who replaces former Maryland U-20 Chris Seitz in the Union goalkeeping corps. Other needs could have been addressed here though MacMath is very highly regarded. Michael Farfan adds flair in midfield, forward Levi Houapeu is capable.
6. NEW ENGLAND. Bumbling defending last year cost the Revs a lot of points, so Cal's A.J. Soares is a good catch. Midfielder Stephen McCarthy is a solid central player, Steve Perry and Ryan Kinne can bolster the front line.
7. and 11. HOUSTON. Defender Kofi Sarkodie was the No. 7 overall pick, the only one originally held by the Dynamo, but coach Dominic Kinnear also got the No. 11 slot from Seattle in exchange for allocation money and used it on Indiana GA forward Will Bruin. They certainly fill problem areas.
9. CHICAGO. A decimated defense should be upgraded by centerback Jalil Anibaba, the Combine MVP, forwards Jason Herrick and Davis Paul have upside but the midfield is still a concern.
10. SPORTING KANSAS CITY. Forward CJ Sapong might be good enough to battle for a starting spot depending on the team’s formation, defender J.T. Murray joins a back line in flux. Midfielder Konrad Warzycha is the son of the Columbus coach.
12. and 15. COLUMBUS. Defender Rich Balchan was the biggest surprise of the first round but comes from a respected program in Indiana. Three picks later, forward Justin Meram gets the chance to replace Steven Lenhart, traded to San Jose for the No. 15 pick. Midfielder Cole Crossman raised some eyebrows at the Combine.
13. NEW YORK. Penn State forward Corey Hertzog is a strong, powerful player in the mold of John Wolyniec and could be a nice target for the Red Bulls attacking force. (Or he could be traded to the Union.). Midfielder John Rooney has some star attraction but joins a crowded midfield. (Or he could play higher up the field).
16. LOS ANGELES. Paolo Cardozo, one of the foreign Combine participants, and later-round pick Hector Jimenez bring some creativity to what was often an excruciatingly direct midfield last season.
17. FC DALLAS. Rugged centerback/midfielder Bobby Warshaw and lively defender Charlie Campbell join a successful team that nevertheless has to fill some holes.
18. COLORADO. The champion added some pace and skill at left back in Eddie Ababio and took defender Colin Givens at the end of the second round.
20. SEATTLE. With back-to-back picks near the top of the second round, the Sounders took left back Michael Tetteh and midfielder Juan Leone Cruz, and later in the round they added another midfielder, Servando Carrasco, and keeper Bryan Meredith. More bodies equals more competition.
26. TORONTO. Right back Demetrius Omphroy, another of the Cal five picked in the draft, showed some nice moves at the Combine and also grabbed in the second round was defender Tyler Lassiter. Three more players, including 18-year-old Joao Plata – scorer of three goals in the Combine – were third-round picks.
33. SAN JOSE. It traded its first-round pick to Columbus for Lenhart and added some attacking spark with its only remaining pick in Akron's Anthony Ampaipitakwong.
52. REAL SALT LAKE. Three picks before the end, RSL took midfielder Jared Van Schaik with the only pick it had left after sending the No. 14 selection to Chivas USA.