The MLS SuperDraft has a little bit of everything. We saw draft day trades, highly projected players falling, and two timeouts were called! Here’s who I thought had the best day at the draft, and which teams got the best value in the second round.
Addressing needs: It’s pretty obvious what the Sounders think needs to be addressed the most this winter, and that is the club’s defense. Damion Lowe from Hartford was the 8th overall pick, and initially he looks like an intriguing prospect. A physical defender that describes himself as “a warrior” on the field, Lowe will bring athleticism and youth to the center of the Seattle back line. Louisville’s Jimmy Ockford was the pick in the second round for the Sounders. Ockford played three years at Mount St. Mary and was the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year at Louisville. He’ll bring more depth to the center of defense, and was compared today to a young Zach Scott.
Best draft: I’m not one to judge players before they have even played a professional match, but if I had to declare a team to be the “winner” of the first day, it would probably be the New England Revolution. The Revs were able to take Georgetown’s Steve Neumann with the fourth overall pick and Maryland’s Patrick Mullins seven picks later. Neumann is the provider and Mullins is the goalscorer, and both will add to what already is an impressive young squad for head coach Jay Heaps. With Juan Agudelo headed to Stoke City, New England acquired a goalscorer in Mullins to potentially pair with new signing Charlie Davies, who is looking to get his career going again.
Mullins’ fall to 11th overall is probably the most surprising bit of news from the day. Over his past two years at Maryland, Mullins scored a combined 36 goals, while adding 18 assists.
Sleeper possibility: Vancouver took Mamadou Diouf from Connecticut with the 30th pick in the second round. The Whitecaps are getting a center forward with impressive pace that is physical inside the 18-yard box. A knock on Diouf is that he tends to fade out of games, but if he can put together some consistency in Vancouver then he will be a quality MLS forward.
What’s left: The third and fourth rounds of the draft will take place on Tuesday, January 21st via conference call. The Timbers will kick things off with the 39th pick, and Seattle still has a pick in each round (the 55th and 77th overall selections).
Here are a few interesting notes from the first two rounds of the draft, as well.
- This year does appear to be the year of the defender. Ten of the first 19 picks were defenders, and 13 of the first 23 were, as well. Three of the first five overall selections were defenders, and five of the final seven picks of the first round were, too.
- For the first time in SuperDraft history, only three Generation Adidas players went in the first 10 picks. This was the second time that at least five GA players weren’t taken in the top-10. In 2002, the first year the concept was put into practice, only four GA players (then known as Project-40) were taken in the top-10.
- Andre Blake became the first goalkeeper to be taken with the first pick. Blake is just the fifth goalkeeper taken in the first five picks of the draft. The others: Adin Brown (3rd overall to Colorado in 2000), Brad Guzan (2nd overall to Chivas USA in 2005), Chris Seitz (4th overall to Real Salt Lake in 2007), and Zac MacMath (5th overall to Philadelphia in 2011).
- Fifteen of the 19 first round picks were traded at least once. Picks 16-18 were three of the four that were not. Four first round picks were traded twice before the selection was made.
- For the third time in draft history, two college teammates were taken in the first three picks of the draft (Cal defenders Steve Birnbaum and Christian Dean, who went to D.C. United and Vancouver, respectively). In 2011, Akron teammates Darlington Nagbe and Perry Kitchen went second and third overall to Portland and Chicago, and in 2008 UCLA’s Chance Myers went first overall to Kansas City and teammate Tony Beltran went third to Real Salt Lake.
- Believe it or not, Tesho Akindele was not the first player drafted from Colorado School of Mines. Craig Thompson was taken in the second round by Houston in 2008. At the time, that was part of the Supplemental Draft, so Akindele’s 6th overall selection by FC Dallas is the first SuperDraft pick from the school.
- Three Jamaican-born players went in the first eight picks of the draft (Blake first overall, Andre Lewis seventh to Vancouver, and Lowe eighth to the Sounders.