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Rookies struggle to see action
by Paul Kennedy, March 31st, 2014 8:55PM
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[MLS SPOTLIGHT] It is getting harder and harder for rookies to break into MLS lineups. In the first month of the season, just four rookies started regularly. The top rookies so far have been Chivas USA's Tommy McNamara and Chicago's Harry Shipp. But of the 10 first-round picks in the 2014 SuperDraft, just one, Eric Miller, has started and only three have even played.

McNamara, who played three seasons at Brown and was a fifth-year senior at Clemson last fall, has been a big surprise for Chivas USA, which took him with the 20th pick in the draft, though its coach, Wilmer Cabrera, said his staff had targeted him as its primary target in the draft. McNamara has provided a spark in midfield for Chivas USA, which is 1-1-2 after four games, showing his versatility by playing both in the middle and on the left side.

2014 MLS SuperDraft:
First Round
19 picked, 19 *signed, 5 played, 3 loaned out.
Second Round
19 picked, 14 signed, 4 played, 5 loaned out.
Third Round
19 picked, 9 signed, 3 played, 1 loaned out.
Fourth Round
19 picked, 1 signed.
*Ryan Neil was drafted by Real Salt Lake but signed by San Jose.

Shipp already has two assists in three starts for the Fire since taking over in the lineup for Dilly Duka after the 3-2 loss at Chivas USA in the opener. Shipp's play for the Fire is no surprise to its staff, either. He had trained with the Fire last summer between his junior and senior years at Notre Dame, which he led to its first national championship in 2013.

Miller has impressed Impact coach Frank Klopas, who kept him in the starting backline even with the insertion of newly signed Heath Pearce at left back against Philadelphia. Klopas switched Miller from the left side to the right and benched Jeb Brovsky.

The only other rookie to start regularly has been former SIU-Edwardsville goalie John Berner in place of the injured Clint Irwin at Colorado, but Irwin should probably go back in goal Saturday at Vancouver. The Rapids finished with three rookies on the field in their 3-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City as Jared Watts (replacing the suspended Jose Mari) and Marlon Hairston saw their first minutes of the season.

The 2014 SuperDraft was not considered to be a strong one, so it comes as no surprise that just 12 of the 76 players taken have played. Perhaps surprising is how little the top picks have played. The top four picks have played a combined 13 minutes. No. 3 pick Christian Dean has made one appearance for Vancouver, while No. 1 Andre Blake, No. 2 Stephen Birnbaum and No. 4 Steve Neumann have yet to play.

Shipp is one of three Homegrown signings in 2014 to have played. Jordan Allen (Real Salt Lake) and Sean Okoli (Seattle) have both looked promising in brief appearances.

-- Eight draft picks and six Homegrown signings have been loaned out NASL or USL PRO teams.

2014 MLS Rookies:
MIN. PLAYER, TEAM (PREVIOUS)
360 Eric Miller
, Montreal (5th pick, Creighton)
336 Tommy McNamara (1 goal), Chivas USA (20th pick, Clemson)
270 John Berner
, Colorado (35th pick, SIU-Edwardsville).
246 Harry Shipp (2 assists), Chicago (HG, Notre Dame)
90 Jared Watts, Colorado (33rd pick, Wake Forest).
78 J.J. Koval, San Jose (9th pick, Stanford).
45 Patrick Mullins, New England (11th pick, Maryland)
22 Kristopher Tyrpak, Chivas USA (40th pick, Houston Baptist)
18 Sean Okoli, Seattle (HG, Wake Forest)
15 Alex Martinez, Sporting KC (57th pick, N.C. State).
13 Christian Dean, Vancouver (3rd pick, California)
9 Jordan Allen, Real Salt Lake (HG, Virginia)
6 Mark Sherrod, Houston (32nd pick, Memphis).
2 Marlon Hairston, Colorado (12th pick, Louisville)
1 Adam Bedell, Columbus (45th pick, Detroit-Mercy).



2 comments
  1. Richard Broad
    commented on: April 1, 2014 at 9:17 a.m.
    This is not surprising. There were not many OUTSTANDING players in this year's draft. There are quite a few rookies who could become solid pros if given the time and opportunity to develop. Sadly, this is often NOT the case with most MLS franchises.
  1. Gole goal
    commented on: April 1, 2014 at 12:45 p.m.
    It's no surprise that MLS rookies are not playing much or playing at all. Yes it was a weak draft, but isn't this usually the case. We have to realize that the reason why rookies don't play much is because the majority of them are college soccer players going in to the the pros. Let's be honest here college soccer is horrific to watch. You will be lucky if you can find quality college soccer out of handful of teams. This isn't a knock on the players it just that college coaches the majority of them are bad coaches, bad tacticians, and don't have an eye for actual quality talent. The best and most talented players are not playing college soccer hell they don't usually even get recruited to play. Why? Reason being is most college coaches recruit athletes, strong players, players that can win a ball in the air but can't touch a ball, and they recruit players that LOOK LIKE THEM. Let's ask ourselves this. From the top 10 players in MLS right now how many played college soccer?

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