The 2011 MLS SuperDraft figured to be a bit unpredictable given the addition of two expansion teams and foreign non-college players, but when the Vancouver Whitecaps grabbed Omar Salgado with the first pick overall, things were really shaken up.
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Amid the surprises there were teams who left Baltimore as big winners, while some clubs left having missed opportunities to really improve their teams.
The draft was only three rounds this year, but with 54 players chosen, and plenty of trades made, there were plenty of clubs who improved, though a few didn’t do quite as well.
Here are the teams who did the best, and worst, at the 2011 MLS SuperDraft:
The Dynamo don’t normally wind up with high draft picks, but coming off a down year, Dom Kinnear enjoyed one of the best days. He landed a top right back in Kofi Sarkodie and traded up to grab target striker Will Bruin. Houston added two players who could see major minutes in year one. No other team in the draft could say that.
When Seattle traded out of the first round it looked as though it might be a slow day for the Sounders, but with four picks in the second round, Sigi Schmid’s squad stockpiled some quality prospects. The Sounders scored allocation money in the trade, while also adding Generation adidas left back Michael Tetteh, tough defender Juan Leone Cruz, skilled midfielder Servando Carrasco and goalkeeper Bryan Meredith.
The Union didn’t address immediate needs, but Peter Nowak’s side certainly stockpiled talent and added value with every pick. Zac MacMath was the best goalkeeper in the draft and is considered a future star, while Michael Farfan was regarded as the draft’s best creative midfielder before having a disappointing Combine. With speedy winger/forward Levi Houapeu rounding out the day, Philly made it two straight good days.
New York Red Bulls
The Red Bulls didn’t address their most pressing need, defense, with their first two picks, but added an exciting attacking prospect in Corey Hertzog, and a promising midfielder in John Rooney. Tyler Lassiter (North Carolina State) is a skillful left-footed central defender Hans Backe likens to Tim Ream.
The Fire benefited last year from players falling in the draft with Corben Bone and Sean Johnson, and Chicago was fortunate again on Thursday, with UNC’s Jalil Anibaba slipping to a team needing centerback help. Anibaba was the most impressive defender at the Combine. The Fire did add a pair of forwards late in Jason Herrick and Davis Paul who are good values, though both are regarded as lacking adequate pace.
New England Revolution
The Revs never replaced the skillful central defense presence of Michael Parkhurst since his departuret, but added the best passing centerback in this draft in Soares, an MLS-Ready defender who could push Ryan Cochrane.
The Crew came into the draft with multiple needs, and while Rich Balchan is versatile and a solid player, he was a reach at 12th overall. Columbus recovered nicely by trading up to No. 15 to snatch Michigan forward Justin Meram and finding a second-round steal in Duke midfielder Cole Grossman.
TFC was a draft day loser before the draft even began after surrendering the No. 8 overall pick for Nathan Sturgis. On Draft Day, Toronto traded Chad Barrett to Los Angeles, but sources say TFC also absorbed a large chunk of Barrett’s salary. If that’s the case, then even the nice second-round additions of Demitrius Omphroy and third rounders Matt Gold and Joao Plata might not be enough to salvage the new front office’s first draft. The Barrett trade aside, Paul Mariner and Aron Winter showed good eyes for talent with some nice late picks.
Sporting Kansas City
C.J. Sapong had a decent MLS Combine, but for K.C. to take him ahead of the likes of Will Bruin and Corey Hertzog could wind up going down as one of the worst decisions in this draft. Sporting did add an intriguing left back option in J.T. Murray, but that probably wasn’t enough to salvage reaching for Sapong.
Los Angeles Galaxy
The Galaxy added an inconsistent forward in Chad Barrett, though apparently at a discount price, but Los Angeles had to be disappointed to miss out on forwards Victor Estupinan and Justin Meram, who were both taken just before the Galaxy selected Paolo Cardozo by teams who traded up to move ahead of L.A. Hector Jimenez is an interesting right wing prospect, but finishing without a forward had to be a bit disappointing for a team needing a striker.
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the U.S. national team.