A closer look at the MLS Expansion Draft

A closer look at the MLS Expansion Draft

Major League Soccer

A closer look at the MLS Expansion Draft



As far as expansion drafts go, it is tough to say that Seattle Sounders FC had a great one.

Sure, the newest MLS expansion team scored some gems, including a bona fide target striker and some quality midfield threats, but the Seattle braintrust missed the mark on several of its picks, leaving you to wonder if soon-to-be head coach Sigi Schmid really did play a key role in the selections (you would think he did considering the selection of Schmid favorite Peter Vagenas.)

While we won't know the actual roster impact made by Seattle's selections until any potential trades associated with the picks are revealed, but first impressions of the group are mixed.

Here is a closer look at the 10 selections the Sounders made on Wednesday:

Nate Jaqua (Houston)– Easiest pick to make. Jaqua is a proven MLS target striker who has ties to the Pacific Northwest as an Oregon native. He should work well alongside Sebastian LeToux and should give Freddie Ljungberg a big target up top.

Brad Evans (Columbus)– Arguably the best value among the picks, Evans is a versatile midfielder who can play centrally or on the right wing if need be. He's a Sigi Schmid favorite and was the right pick to make off the Columbus Crew list.

Stephen King (Chicago)– Whether he is trade bait or someone Seattle plans to use as a defensive midfielder, King is another young and versatile central player who has a low salary and good upside. Some folks would have preferred Marco Pappa off the Fire list but the Guatemalan winger would have required a high salary in order to keep him from returning to Central America.

Tyson Wahl (Kansas City)– A young, talented and inexpensive central defender, Wahl should step right in and start for the Sounders, which makes it understandable why Seattle passed on the chance to grab Kevin Hartman and use him as trade bait.

James Riley (San Jose)– While most observers expected Seattle to turn to Washington native Brandon Prideaux to fill the team's need at right back, the Sounders turned to the more athletic and younger Riley, who made it two straight expansion drafts he has been taken in. Was it the right call? Prideaux was the safer pick and had the better 2008, but Riley is younger, faster and provides a better attacking threat from the right back position.

Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake)– There is nothing wrong with an expansion team taking a gamble on a talented but injury prone player, particular one with as much upside as Sturgis. It is certainly a gamble, particularly since Seattle will play on turf, but Sturgis was regarded as one of the league's best young talents before injuries cut short most of the past two seasons.

Khano Smith (New England)– One of the more mind-boggling picks in the bunch. Smith is an erratic and enigmatic player whose talent is matched by his inconsistency and penchant for making bone-head decisions. How Seattle passed on Pat Phelan, a young, inexpensive and versatile central defender/defensive midfielder is truly perplexing.

Peter Vagenas (Los Angeles)– Yes, Vagenas is a veteran with the experience to help a potentially young expansion team, but there are questions about how much he has left and whether he is still worth the salary he commanded in 2008 ($144K). If this was a Sigi Schmid-driven move, then it makes plenty of sense and you can justify Schmid wanting to bring in one of his own to be a clubhouse leader. However, given the wealth of central midfield talent already at Seattle's disposal, you can't help but wonder if Seattle wouldn't have been better off landing a young, talented and cheap left back option in Mike Randolph.

Jeff Parke (New York)– Looks like a very solid pick on the surface because Parke is one of the league's most underrated defenders, but the reality is Parke is out of contract and has plans to seek a much bigger deal in Europe than he could realistically hope to find in MLS. If Parke does move to Europe then Seattle committed a blunder. If Parke changes his mind about going abroad, or returns from Europe during the 2009 season, the Sounders could score a gem (though even if he does come back, he will command a six-figure salary).

Jarrod Smith (Toronto FC)– There was absolutely no bigger mistake in the expansion draft than taking Smith. Why? Well, for one he was the wrong Smith to take from Toronto (Johann Smith was the right one). Secondly, sources tell me TFC had every intention of waiving Jarrod Smith anyway so Seattle essentially wasted one of its 10 picks on a player it could have claimed off waivers a few hours later. Third, after taking Jaqua did Seattle really need another big forward, particularly one who proved largely ineffective in Toronto?

What did you think of the expansion draft? As a Seattle fan, which pick excited you the most? How about which pick disappointed you the most? Are you a Crew fan sad to see Evans leave? Are you a Red Bulls fans who can't believe Jeff Parke's days in New York are over? Are you a Galaxy fan who can't believe Seattle took Vagenas?

Share your thoughts on the expansion draft below.

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