All we know for sure is that for Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft, the first selection belongs to newcomer Vancouver. What we don’t know at the moment is who they will select, or for that matter if they will keep the pick or try to make a trade instead. The Whitecaps truly have a lot of options here.
Do they keep the pick and take the player most ready for MLS play in 2011? If they do, I would think that pick would be Akron attacker Darlington Nagbe, who recently added the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy to his many career achievements.
Do they instead make a bold move and take the best player maybe two to three years down the road? If they do, then that pick could very well be another Akron player, 18-year-old Perry Kitchen. While Kitchen played as a holding midfielder on the 2010 NCAA championship team, he plays as a central defender on the US U-20 team. His upside is incredible, even though no one is sure what position he'll actually play in MLS.
Do they trade the pick? If so, one would think they would try to make a deal with a team in the top five, so they would still have a top five pick, plus maybe a player or two from that team. Vancouver also has the eighth pick (from a trade with Toronto), so no matter what they should get two good players in the draft.
As I write this, the top five picks of the SuperDraft will go in this order:
1. Vancouver Whitecaps
2. Portland Timbers
3. DC United
4. Chivas USA
5. Philadelphia Union
There is no doubt that Philadelphia will have a very good player available at that number five spot. If Nagbe and Kitchen go as the top two picks, you would still have Kofi Sarkodie, Zarek Valentin, Omar Salgado, Will Bruin, Corey Hertzog, and others to choose from. Perhaps the most interesting potential pick in the first round will be Joao Plata, a U-20 Ecuadorian international who plays for LDU Quito. He has drawn a lot of conversation at the MLS Combine in Fort Lauderdale.
If you are the Union, what are you looking for? Assuming you keep the pick, do you draft for a position of need or take the best player available? I don’t think that’s necessarily an easy question to answer, although coach John Hackworth recently mentioned that the club is focused on positional needs. Determining what those needs are is more complicated than simply looking at the current roster, as the technical staff knows more than we do when it comes to potential offseason acquisitions. We'll just have to wait and see who the Union add to their existing crop of young talent.
Other players to look for at the SuperDraft:
Zac MacMath (University of Maryland) - Which team gets the best goalkeeper out there?
Michael Nanchoff (Akron) - Nanchoff played well at the College Cup. Good left-footed midfielder who sees the field well. He could go earlier than you think.
John Rooney - This 20-year-old midfielder/forward is Wayne Rooney’s brother. That fact alone makes him an interesting player to watch. He has already trained with both Seattle and Portland.
I am looking forward to covering the MLS SuperDraft for philadelphiaunion.com.
Besides an interest in who Philly takes, I’m very curious to see how many University of Akron players go in the top five. At this point, I think it will be three ... Nagbe, Kitchen, and Sarkodie.
I'll be hosting a draft panel on Thursday night from Tir Na Nog in Baltimore. We’ll have a number of panelists and will also be talking to the Union's draft choices. Stay tuned for more details on the show and hopefully I'll see many of you in Baltimore.
Full and partial season ticket plans are on sale now for the 2011 season! CLICK HERE for more information on becoming a Union season ticket holder.