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When it comes to drafting players, every general manager in pro sports wishes they had a time machine.
A year and a draft doesn't go by where some teams don't make mistakes and some teams are fortunate enough to land a goldmine. Fans are forced to sit on the sidelines and accept the draft picks whether they love them or hate them. At least until some time goes by and it becomes clear just how wrong some teams and picks were.
With that in mind, we here at SBI thought it would be interesting to go back a few years and see how a draft might go differently with the benefit of hindsight and the knowledge of how some players panned out and others didn't. The draft in question is the 2006 MLS Draft, a draft with its share of complete misses, and a few real gems, like No. 17 overall pick Jozy Altidore. Why this draft? Most coaches and scouts believe you need about three years to get a measure of how players and picks have panned out.
Yes, I know, if these picks had been different in 2006 then teams would have wound up looking different today, with different players, and on and on. Please don't start thinking about all the permutations because that will spoil the fun. If you can't help but think about all that I suggest you go watch this season's Lost instead.
Here is a look back at the 2006 MLS Draft and how it MIGHT have gone if teams knew then what they know now:
2006 MLS Draft Do-over
1. Chivas USA- JOZY ALTIDORE
The Goats dealt away this pick for No. 5 and Jason Hernandez, but with Altidore available and Kljestan unlikely to be around at No. 5 in the Do-Over, Bradley grabs the Boy Wonder. The Red Bulls took Marvell Wynne here, but would probably be happy to wind up with Hernandez and a player like Jonathan Bornstein in the do-over. I'm sure Juan Carlos Osorio wouldn't mind having those two right about now.
2. Real Salt Lake- SACHA KLJESTAN
RSL took Mehdi Ballouchy here hoping to find an impact playmaker instead of grabbing Kljestan. Whoops. Yes, John Ellinger would probably set a world record for running to the podium to take Kljestan if he had a chance to do it over. It should be noted that Ballouchy showed some good promise last season with Colorado, and RSL did wind up with Kyle Beckerman in a trade for Ballouchy so this pick wasn't exactly a waste for RSL.
3. Columbus Crew- YURA MOVSISYAN
The Crew had two first-round picks and desperately needed forward help. Columbus took Jason Garey here and it hasn't quite worked out for the former NCAA champion. After watching Movsisyan blossom into a goal-scoring machine in 2008, the Crew would probably do well to grab him here. If not for the presence of ageless Frankie Hejduk, Columbus might have been tempted to grab Marvell Wynne.
4. Kansas City Wizards- MARVELL WYNNE
The 2006 Wizards were looking for a goal scorer with this pick and made a pretty good pick in Movsisyan. Unfortunately for KC, Movsisyan didn't show his best form until after being traded to Real Salt Lake. This time around, the Wizards gladly take Wynne, who is looking like a future U.S. national team regular these days.
5. New York Red Bulls- JONATHAN BORNSTEIN
Let's face it, even if he knew then what he knows now, Mo Johnston would have tried to make a trade here. In all seriousness, Johnston would be hard-pressed to pass on a player as versatile and talented as Bornstein here. Kudos to Chivas USA for taking Kljestan here in the original draft, but even more kudos for grabbing Bornstein with the No. 37 overall pick. Wow.
6. FC Dallas- DASAN ROBINSON
FCD took Dax McCarty in the original draft, which I have a feeling wouldn't happen a second time. With all the national team talent off the board, Dallas would have a tough time passing on the talented and versatile Robinson, who MLS fans outside Chicago probably have forgotten about after injuries wiped out his 2008 season.
7. D.C. United- DEVON McTAVISH
D.C. had high hopes for Justin Moose when they took him with this pick, but he played just eight games in two seasons before being let go. United would gladly take McTavish here after taking him with the 43rd pick of the SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT, essentially 91st overall.
8. Houston Dynamo- CAM WEAVER
Houston selected Patrick Ianni with this pick and while he's not as bad as some other picks, Ianni never quit lived up to expectations. With a chance to do it over and take a forward, Houston grabs Weaver, who just signed with San Jose after a two-year stint in Norway, which came after he garnered USL rookie of the year honors with the USL Seattle Sounders in 2006.
9. Columbus Crew- RYAN JOHNSON
As we noted above, the Crew were looking for forward help in 2006. With Movsisyan already in the bag, the Crew grab promising San Jose forward Ryan Johnson, who played just seven matches with RSL after being taken No. 26 overall before being traded to Chicago and heading to Europe. He scored five goals for the Earthquakes in 2008.
10. Chicago Fire- DOMINIC ODURO
The Fire took Calen Carr with this pick and I'm sure some Fire fans would say Chicago should take him again. While Carr has had his moments, the 2006 Fire might have been better off with a speedster like Oduro, who could have flourished in the Fire attack. Oduro went No. 22 overall to FC Dallas.
11. New England Revolution- MARC BURCH
After completely missing on Brazilian Leandro de Oliviera, who signed with but never played for the Revs, New England would gladly have taken the chance to grab Burch. Originally a striker, Burch was the No. 24 pick in the 2006 draft, taken by Los Angeles. LA traded him to Columbus, where Burch was converted to left back. The Crew eventually dealt him to D.C. United, where Burch has become a fixture on the left (at least until rookie Rodney Wallace is ready to take over).
12. Los Angeles Galaxy- KEI KAMARA
The Galaxy took the talented but injury-prone Nathan Sturgis here. Despite all his ability, Sturgis stayed in LA for just a season and a half before being dealt to RSL. With forward a pressing need, the 2006 Galaxy would have gladly grabbed Kamara here. Kamara hasn't exactly torn up MLS, but 2008 saw him break out a bit for the Houston Dynamo after a short stint with San Jose.
A few notes: If you are wondering why Chivas USA has the top pick, my thinking is basically that if Chivas USA knew then what it knows now, it wouldn't have dealt the top pick for No. 5 and Jason Hernandez (Yes, Sacha Kljestan and Hernandez for Marvell Wynne was a steal in value, but would not have worked out the same way in this draft do over).
Also, two players who came into the league in 2006 who were not available for this draft were Colin Clarke (Colorado Discovery player) and Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo Discovery player). I considered including them, but decided not to.
I'm definitely open to suggestions on different picks, and will welcome suggestions of players I may have missed. Feel free to share your thoughts on this 2006 MLS Draft Do-Over in the comments section below.