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MLS Draft Post-Mortem

Good evening folks. For those of you hoping to find more information on today’s draft, I apologize for the lack of posts after the live commentary. I had stories to write for and the Herald News that have taken up most of my afternoon and evening.

The activity on the blog will be light on Saturday, at least early on before the US-Sweden match. For now, I will leave you with some observations from draft day:

Xavier Balc was not even drafted, which makes me wonder whether it was his awful draft or something else entirely. I heard concerns about his fitness and conditioning, but for a player with his skill to not go in four rounds is a bit shocking.

Speaking of players who slid, Eric Avila plummeted. Why? Well, there are stories about how unfit he has been at the U.S. Under-20 camp, stories that might have scared away coaches who were already concerned about his slight frame. The kid has skills, no question, but many wonder if he has the make-up to be a good pro. If those fears prove unwarranted, Avila could wind up being the biggest steal of this draft.

Chicago, Kansas City and Toronto came away the big winners on Friday. No question about that one.

Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston was absolutely giddy after the draft, and with good reason. If he finds a way to lure Joe Lapira to Toronto, he will officially become the king of the MLS Draft. I wouldn’t rule it out.

FC Dallas could be the big winner five years from now, when Brek Shea, Josh Lambo and Eric Avila are ready to dominate. At least the Hoops hope so.

The big losers tonight were the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake. I’m still trying to figure out what Fernando Clavijo was thinking. You have to feel for Clavijo, who is coaching a club whose management provides about as little support as any other in the league.

RSL GM Garth Lagerwey was very happy with his draft but the Tony Beltran pick was a real head scratcher. He was easily the most well-spoken of the draftees but the memories of his poor Under-20 World Cup are still fresh in the minds of many.

I may take shots at Alexi Lalas once in a while but I have to give him and the Galaxy folks credit for a good day at the draft. Sean Franklin was one of my favorite players in this draft and unloading Chris Albright’s contract and scoring allocation money in the process was a very necessary move. Those of you expecting more DP madness can relax, the Galaxy will NOT be adding another designated player slot. If they did, it would be four rich guys and 22 developmental players.

A source tells me that ESPN will soon announce the changes to its main soccer broadcast team. Dave O’Brien is moving on to do more baseball and Eric Wynalda is still in talks with the network over what he will do for the remaining year of his contract. The JP Dellacamera-John Harkes-Bruce Arena trio could be coming to a soccer game near you very shortly.

I managed to fit in an interview with GolTV’s American Soccer during all the madness so you will be able to catch me on TV sometime this week. Be afraid.

I will have provide more draft insight come Monday, including a post-draft Q&A, so stay tuned. Good night folks.


  1. Balc remaining undrafted is a total mystery to me.

    There must be more going on than just his unimpressive combine performance. I’m sure the coaches all looked at the body of work, and not just a few matches (club – 1 national championship and 2 runners-up; HS – state champs; college – many OSU records, Big Ten and national accolades, national runnerup).

    Either the word is out that he is not fixated on MLS (read: Europe ?? I think he’s done past mission work in Romania), or there’s some sort of personal thing going on, but I just can’t conceive that teams would overlook a history like this kid has built up, just because his combine wasn’t good.

    If he doesn’t want to stay, sure, no one should take him. But if he does, somebody’s missing a heck of a chance — he is the real deal. I think if anybody takes him in the supplemental, it’ll be the steal of the decade.

  2. I’d like to here those making draft grades tell us how many of these players they saw play college ball?

    I don’t really feel for Clavijo since if the team had more support, he wouldn’t be the coach.

  3. What is going on with the Rapids? Last season they trade away Kyle Beckerman, and yesterday they managed to avoid drafting a forward (with Nyarko available), which would have addressed their weakest spot. Is this seemingly purposeful degradation the brainchild of Coach Clavijo or (owner) Kroenke? This is starting to look like the film Major League, and the Rapids are the Cleveland Indians… Screw the curveball Clavijo, give em the heater.

  4. He looked inexperienced…which he is. Bit unfair to say ‘poor’. I didn’t think he looked terrible either. Good pick-up for RSL.

  5. If Tony Beltran had a poor u20 World Cup, how do you re-adjust the scale for Tim Ward? I don’t think Beltran was great, but he definitely wasn’t poor.

  6. Agreed, Yallop was always going to do reasonably well as he’s a shrewd chap. True that they didn’t need to use a Draft Pick getting him in the first place, but I guess they saw it as important to get him in ASAP.

    Goodson was a gamble, I’m surprised they left players from Kansas City undrafted. I think SJE could have done with an early draft pick, but maybe they’ll find a decent player in the Supplemental Draft. Xavier Balc, perhaps?

  7. I actually think SJE did a good job with their draft. They only had four picks (re)coming into the league, and they turned those picks into:
    #1. Garcia – an experienced starter
    #2. Salinas – a speedy winger with potential
    #3. Yallop – an MLS Cup winner & fan favorite
    #4. Burpo – a starting quality back-up GK

    That seems like pretty good value for a draft to me.

    You can argue that they should never have needed to use a pick on Yallop or that they made a mistake by picking Goodson which forced them to trade their #1 for Garcia. But if you just look at the value they got for their picks, I think you have to say they did pretty well.

  8. I thought RSL didn’t draft too badly. I think Nimo will turn out to be a nice little player in the future, and I think Beltran and Horst could turn out to be fairly solid.

    I liked Columbus’ drafting too, especially as Iro said he will play for them. I didn’t think Ohio would be his ‘list’.

    Dallas, Chicago and Toronto definitely had the best drafts. Kudos to ’em!

    Colorado and New York didn’t impress me with their picks. DCU, Houston, Chivas USA and SJ didn’t have enough to even try and impress, so I’ll forget about them.

  9. So when do we get the column about the poor Ohio native (Brunner) that only wanted to play for his hometown team and now is forced to play for NY because the evil RB management won’t take the Crew’s incredibly reasonable offer of a 50th round supplemental draft pick to bring him home? Because that’s all we heard with Szetela. I don’t see this as being any different.

  10. Bye Bye Dave O’Brien. Hope your flirtation with soccer was fun for you. I’m sure calling a World Cup was a nice ego stroke. Needless to say, I can’t wait to get JP back for the big matches.

    Too bad about Wynalda though, Harkes seems pretty poor.

  11. Prior to playing a game draft grades

    Toronto : A(if they sign Lapira, A+)
    Chicago : A
    FC Dallas : A-
    KC Wizards : B+
    New York : B
    NE Revolution : B-
    DC United : B-
    LA Galaxy : C+
    Real Salt Lake : C
    Colorado : C
    Houston : C-
    Columbus : C-
    San Jose : D+
    Chivas : D

  12. Ives,
    What is to keep an MLS team from speaking with a player who will be entering the combine and asking them to perform sub-par on purpose to make sure the player is around when it is that teams pick? Or to not even play in the combine?

  13. Oh lord how i will weep if we can convince Lapira to come play. Itll never happen but by god…

    Now if Mo can only figure out the whole tactics thing we will be running this league for a long while…


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