Photo by ISIphotos.com
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.
aye yay yay yay yaye
The “Crazy Eighteen” of the Future of United States Nationals
Knowing what they know now, Chivas should take Kljestan with the top pick. Has had more impact in MLS than Altidore did, and he’s still around.
The top half of the list look okay but the bottom half needs some work. Some players I think that deserve a more in-depth look are:
-Dax McCarty (I would take him over everyone expect Jozy, Sacha, Marvell, and possibly Cam Weaver cause you can’t teach height.)
-Nathan Sturgis (Injury prone but when healthy, he attracts youth national team callups and from clubs abroad i.e. Rangers.)
-Tyson Wahl (As a DC fan, I can tell that Wahl would start over McT.)
-Ray Burse Jr (This guy can play. He is basically in the same position as Seitz but not as highly-rated.)
-Mike Chabala (After watching the Dymano- Firpo game where they played their reserves and got a draw away from home, the one guy that stood out was Chabala. A left back that can defend on a island and get up the field to join the attack. I know he could start for 3/4 of the teams in MLS right now. If Barrett looks as bad as he did at the end of the season, Mike will get his shot.)
Good point about Kamara probably not being taken by Sigi again. I agree.
Thanks for being a good sport!
How does this rank in terms of draft class? Best all time?
As a fellow Quakes fan pointed out, Kamara is a head case, esp. in his games against the Quakes – he has displayed total immaturity in the way he plays against the Quakes (two red cards in two matches against the Quakes since he was let go by the Quakes, the most recent one in a pre-season friendly!).
Interestingly, other than Kljestan (and perhaps Ballouchy) there is hardly a player on that list with true skill/talent. There’s a lot of the typical US player – lot of hustle, size, speed, etc. Yecchh.
Timmy: I think the opposite, frankly. the continued expansion of the Academy system will produce better players at younger ages, we hope. there wil be huge amounts of competition for the really talented players to join MLS or USL teams’ academies with a year to go, so teams can gain their rights. and you will see more players do the Matt Kassell potential one and out in college signing with their home clubs.
still, even three years ago, we had 11 clubs trying to scout a country of 300 million people. of course kids are going to fall through the cracks. what would have happened to a player like Ike Opera, a year older than Jozy, if he’d been drafted instead of going to Wake?
take a much more established system like the NBA, heavily scouted, highly professional. let’s look at the 2006 NBA draft, shall we?
1: Andrea Bargnani (Toronto) traded to Miami. averages 13 ppg.
2: LaMarcus Aldridge (Chicago) traded. averages 17 ppg
3: Adam Morrison. (Charlotte) traded. 4.4 pg
4: Tyrus Thomas (Portland) traded. 9 ppg
5: Shelden Williams. (Atlanta) traded. 3.7 ppg
6: Brandon Roy (Minnesota) traded 22 pg (ALL STAR)
7: Randy Foye (Boston) traded. 18 ppg
8: Rudy Gay (Houston/Memphis) traded. 18 ppg
9: Patrick O’Bryant ((Golden State) traded. 1.4 ppg
10: Mohammed Sene (Seattle) working on his handicap
11: jj Redick (Orlando) 6 ppg
I could go on. but from the first 11 picks, you two players still with the team that drafted them after two seasons and three starters, and one all star. that’s it. out of the several thousand players eligible for the draft, the top 11 picks aren’t that great.
….”anyway kei kamara is way better than ryan johnson he is faster, better on the ball, and is a better finisher. the only thing johnson has over kamara is strength and size. kamara has far more potential….”
Kei can’t hold a candle to Ryan. Having had the opportunity to watch them both very closely for a half season each in 2008,
I can honestly say, RJ is worth two KK’s. Even putting KK and RJ on an even keel performance wise, (which is a major stretch) KK is a total head case. He is a a hack, a dangerous player and has managed to accumulate more red cards in one season than RJ has in his entire career.
Sack, who exactly do you think wrote the original story revealing who Bob’s original target was?
Just so you know Ives, Sasha wasn’t even Bob’s target when he traded down…it was Yura M. and he got taken at #4 so Bob settled for Sasha.
As a Chicago fan this is very depressing!!!!! By the way, i would take Oduro over Carr any day!
cool looking metro jersey, i thought it was ac milan at first. but they would never ever go for jozy. too american. anyway kei kamara is way better than ryan johnson he is faster, better on the ball, and is a better finisher. the only thing johnson has over kamara is strength and size. kamara has far more potential. Also, as a revs fan, taking marc burch would have been a great pick because we have been struggling with defensive depth for years, finally resolving that problem with the emergence of tierney and igwe. that was probably the only bad draft pick steve nicol’s ever made.
kjk_40b: Metros fans who attended the Superdraft that year were given free 2006 Metrostars jerseys by club officials. This was just before Red Bull purchased the club, so some Metros fans have 2006 adidas MetroStars jerseys even though they were never worn on the field.
I remember that first RBNY year as being really tough for merchandise, because the purchase was so close to the beginning of the season. I didn’t get my red home RBNY jersey (Wynne, #2) until the playoffs came around, even though I ordered it in March.
For the record, it was Sigi Schmid that turned Burch into a left back.
As an RSL fan who is pretty happy to have parlayed Mehdi Ballouchy for Kyle Beckerman straight up, I don’t object Ballouchy as #2 pick.
Ha, Subotic WHO??? He just got smoked by Schalke on a phenomenal goal from Kevin Kuranyi. He was daydreaming instead of getting himself between Kuranyi and the ball…Kuranyi biked it in. Subotic WHO??
Hmmm. I think I would take Kljesten over Jozy.
Jozy’s stats with NYRB: 37 games (25 starts), 15 goals, 5 assists
Kljesten’s stats with Chivas: 79 games (77 starts), 9 goals, 27 assists
Yes, NYRB got a bigger transfer fee for Jozy than Chivas will get for Kljesten. But Klejsten’s performance on the field for Chivas so far is much better than Jozy’s performance was for NYRB (not even to mention that Chivas will have Klejsten for at least half the coming season). I doubt the difference in fees coming to the club will be enough to compensate for the difference.
Don’t forget Nathan Sturgis. If healthy ever again, he’d be in my top 7 for sure.
I agree with MVK. If I’m trying to build a great team I don’t want someone who will leave before they turn 20. It might be different if NY could use all of their transfer fee to buy another player.
With the continued expansion of the academy system at the U17 and under levels, talent scouting within the states will be much more centralized. So in my mind, fewer discovery players (like Holden), will get around the draft, and it will continue to grow in importance. Also, how many MNT players do you want in one draft for it to have been deep? Also, I think we are starting to see a rise in Canadian players willing to give MLS a shot (O’brian White-esque) rather than head straight for europe, thus creating the potential for developing some of their national prospects as well. 2009 draft was supposedly 1 round deep in blue chip prospects, lets hope that trend keeps improving.
Nice exercise Ives. I enjoy seeing articles like this. Might you do one on developmental players making it in the league (or MNT ala Rolfe)?
In terms of all the players drafted and the number of them still playing pro, it seems like a really successful draft year? (I at least recognize most of the names from the 1st 2 rounds as currently playing). How does it compare to other years, If I recall it is a much lower percentage?
Don’t sleep on McCarty, Ives – he’s only 21 and it looks like he’ll be FCD’s attacking mid this season if they can’t sign an international player/DP to fill the spot. Buzz Carrick’s already thrown a lot of praise Dax’s way for his preseason form.
those of you speaking of those jerseys… wasn’t 2006 the year that those and all metrostars jerseys ceased existence? Meaning those jerseys were never worn because Red Bull came into play? So how do you have those jerseys?
I am really intrigued…
So, in other words, there were only 5 or so good players in the 2006 draft, and one of them has already been sold by the league. Another lesson in the futility of hoping for a big impact from drafted players.
I miss the old Metros jerseys. They were always very sharp looking with the ACM-style stripes. Red Bull has been wonderful for the club ever since they took over, though.
Dasan is a very good right back and he should take that spot back from Priduex this season for us. He had a rough 08 season with injuries and then Brian playing well but Dasan never got a chance last year. This year, he should be healthy and ready to go. There is also NO WAY the Fire should/would take Caitlin Carr again at 10. He is a terrible player and if he doesnt get his speed back from the knee injury he is absolutly useless to the Fire. If he still has any value now the Fire need to send him on his way. I like this post, you should do more of these Ives.
I’ll bet you 1000 Ives Dollars that Johnson outscores Kamara this year.
And for the record Johnson IS better than him.
I GOT THAT JERSEY!!!!
Aljarov, the GA thing is meaningless in this exercise because A) GA cap exemption expires as soon as a player plays enough games and B) teams wouldn’t really care about paying a rookie on the cap if they knew he was going to pan out.
As far as Kamara goes, Sigi wouldn’t take Kamara again, so since the Crew pass, Kamara goes later. I could see Chicago taking him or Oduro.
oh, didnt know that.. my point was he is was a shell of the player he currently is coming into the MLS and that his if he gets transfered at hte same time in the scenerio that the money from the transfer is a bigger plus than what he did for the MLS team in such short time. It would be intresting to do this again in 2 years because you can then weigh in the actually player benefit to the team.
Athority, I’m not saying Johnson is better than Kamara, but I don’t see Columbus taking Kamara again. That said, nobody knows how it would have actually turned out, but we can have some fun with it. I will say that the Johnson is rated a decent bit more highly around the league than he is by you.
Not much chance of Kamara going behind Johnson or Oduro, not given he was a GA.
I still think a player like Dax McCarty on the right team could have had a very different history by now. FCD was the worst palce he could go. Talking of them, Wagner (as a GA) could well have made this list.
I know this might be asking a bit much, but would it be possible to list where each of the players are now? Just something simple, along the lines of still in MLS (appearances, starts), in Europe, in front of a fryolator or whatever.
I like doing things like this, and think it would be interesting to do it for a bunch or all of the previous drafts.
I certainly don’t think New York and Chivas would want a do-over.
Unfortunately for New York fans, Arena was too impatient with Wynne.
MVK, SOmething like 75 percent of Jozy’s transfer fee went to the Red Bulls. You’re crazy if you think any team would pass on him if they had a chance to take him number one.
Ives, I love you….but
Ryan Johnson at #9. That guy was playing indoor soccer for the NJ Ironmen a year ago. He’s not good, he just got some playing time on an expansion team last year.
Kai Kamari is light years ahead of him Oduro and Burch (who was a forward when drafted).
I’m a RB fan and have no allegiance to Kamara but he’s going to BLOW UP this year.
Did anyone see the last Champions League match at the end of 2008? Kamara was a boy amongst men.
This an excellent exercise and very intersting.
whith that being said who is DASAN ROBINSON?
Also Bornstien was a 4th round pick? Do all his many bashers ever take that into account? Leave the kid alone.
I have that exact Metro jersey!
Original Picks (first 2 rounds)
1 Marvell Wynne D MetroStars UCLA
2 Mehdi Ballouchy M Real Salt Lake Santa Clara
3 Jason Garey F Columbus Crew Maryland
4 Yura Movsisyan F Kansas City Wizards Pasadena City College
5 Sacha Kljestan M Chivas USA Seton Hall
6 Dax McCarty M FC Dallas North Carolina
7 Justin Moose M D.C. United Wake Forest
8 Patrick Ianni D Houston Dynamo UCLA
9 Kei Kamara F Columbus Crew Cal State Dominguez Hills
10 Calen Carr F Chicago Fire California
11 Leandro de Oliveira M New England Revolution Alabama – Birmingham
12 Nathan Sturgis D/M Los Angeles Galaxy Clemson
 Round 2
13 Jed Zayner D Columbus Crew Indiana
14 Jeff Curtin D Chicago Fire Georgetown
15 Justin Moore D/M FC Dallas Clemson
16 Lance Watson M Kansas City Wizards New Mexico
17 Josmer Altidore F MetroStars Generation adidas
18 Blake Wagner D/M FC Dallas Generation adidas
19 Tyson Wahl D Kansas City Wizards California
20 Brian Plotkin M Chicago Fire Indiana
21 Jacob Peterson F Colorado Rapids Indiana
22 Dominic Oduro F FC Dallas Virginia Commonwealth
23 Willie Sims F New England Revolution Cal State Northridge
24 Marc Burch F Los Angeles Galaxy Maryland
? Jozy talent wise is clear choice, but since transfer fee goes to the MLS I dont understand why he is the clear number 1, with hindsight and all we see that Sasha, Wynne, Movsisyan etc. have actually had a bigger posistive impact on their MLS team.
Why Movsisyan ahead of two guys that just made the USMNT squad for the Mexico game?
I like that Metro jersey.
Are there many other years when so many potential national team starters come into MLS in one offseason? Or even through one draft?
Altidore, Kljestan, Wynne, Bornstein, and then Holden is a very solid group, especially in regards to the national team.
Nah….even in a draft redo, DC United would take Justin Moose….
Can you also put up the original choices?