Differing strategies at the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
In this short post I’m going to talk about the different strategies at play in today’s SuperDraft — and what they mean.
Today’s MLS SuperDraft was a riot. From #PlayerToBeNamedLater to Jack Harrison being shifted from Chicago to NYCFC in a rather bizzare fashion - it was peak MLS.
From looking back and reflecting on the draft however, there were differing strategies at play. Here’s my take on them:
The Draft Avoiders.
Neither Sporting Kansas City or LA Galaxy had a draft pick in the first two rounds today. For the Galaxy it was alleged that Bruce Arena left Baltimore as soon as the trade of their 12th overall pick with Colorado for TAM was complete. KC also traded out their pick for TAM, with DC receiving their 11th overall pick.
To me this is a case of both sides valuing TAM greater than the talent on offer in the Draft. It also emphasises the short-termist decision making currently employed by Arena - as that TAM could potentially go towards the rumoured signing of either Nigel De Jong, Joleon Lescott or (C)Ashley Cole.
The Houston Dynamo still had a pick in the second round, but they turned their GAM, TAM and 6th overall pick into moves for Andrew Wenger and Christian Maidana - another team valuing proven talent ahead of an unproven younger player.
I’ve spoken previously about leveraging the draft pick you have so that you are not wasting it picking someone who might just get one or two seasons on the fringes of the squad and then get dropped - SKC and the Galaxy have been perfect examples of how to do this. It’s also worth noting that this could be a signal that LA Galaxy are going to focus more on the production from their academy than bet on draft picks.
The Greedy Pickers.
It’s the first time in the history of the SuperDraft (going back to 2007, anyway) that two teams have had three picks in the First Round. Those last two teams were Toronto FC in 2009 and Philadelphia Union in 2010:
Evidently Jack Harrison did not end up at Chicago Fire - moving to NYCFC instead - but it’s interesting how the Fire and Union bet heavily on the draft this season - and on defence especially.
Both teams picked a centre back and full back pairing that are likely starting quality on their respective rosters.
Yaro is likely to get a starting spot at centre back for Philly (his preferred position) with Rosenberry in contention to start at right back - allowing the Union to shift Ray Gaddis to left back.
For the Fire they have a starting left back in Brandon Vincent - a useful asset considering it looks like they may have traded Joevin Jones to the Sounders for the 15th pick, which got them Jonathan Campbell after a larger trade with the Rapids. The Fire defence still looks a little thin, although I would be surprised if Campbell was given the starting nod come the start of the season.
It’s obvious that both of these teams see value in the draft. Many pundits believe that Yaro and Vincent can become “10-year-guys” - but for me it’s difficult to be able to project that so early on with any degree of certainty. They’re great prospects and had good college careers, but the professional game is completely different.
The Long Term Planners.
With Colorado potentially having seemingly locked up a loan deal for Alan Pulido, you could think that that’s their big movement done for the next couple of weeks at least - but they also traded up from second to first in the allocation rankings with the Fire during the SuperDraft.
It’s widely thought that Alejandro Bedoya will be the next player to return to the league - someone who could completely change the way that the Rapids lineup come the start of the season.
I’d have thought that this movement in the allocation ranking was a pre-planned (and not spontaneous) event - and considering not many other names have been floating around for a return to MLS in the coming weeks, the Rapids know what they’re doing. Smart move.
Another move which signals the future dealings of another MLS club is the trade below between SKC and D.C. United:
It’s widely thought that Bueshcer could replace Perry Kitchen in midfield. With the TAM likely being needed to buy the contract Kitchen wants down from DP levels, it appears this trade is the last nail in the coffin that is his career with D.C. This will be an interesting one to look out for in the coming weeks.
Finally, going back to the trade that sent Joevin Jones to the Sounders from Chicago Fire, this is the perfect example of both planning for the future and leveraging your draft pick.
Jones is a starting left back for any team in this league in my eyes - and considering he was a non-cap player for the Fire last year (with a base salary of just $60,000) he was heavily under-valued by the league. He’s only 24, provides flexibility on the left side for Seattle and is likely to still be really cheap. This is a trade that brings Seattle a certified starter and a guy who’s stock is only going to rise in the future.
Dollars and Decisions