Unlike the two previous draft years, the Philadelphia Union might not have expected to fare as well in 2012, considering their first pick was the number 13 overall selection. Just as they did a year ago when they stole Michael Farfan at pick number 23, at this year's draft there was another steal with the selection of UCLA forward Chandler Hoffman. Most mock drafts had Hoffman in the top ten, some had him in the top five. As a junior at UCLA, he netted 18 goals and was a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist.
You might wonder why Philadelphia would take another forward as their top pick when they had other positions to worry about, but there was no way they could leave Hoffman out there if he was available when it was the Union's turn.
While the Union now have more depth up top, it could be much needed if Jack McInerney and Freddy Adu miss any time due to Olympic qualifiers or Olympic games. I think that going into this draft the Union were looking first towards defensive depth, but when Hoffman was not chosen among the first dozen picks, Philadelphia had to go with the best player available.
Another plus with the selection of Hoffman is that he is a Generation adidas player, which means he is very salary cap friendly.
The Union were also able to address depth in two other areas with their other two draft day selections. Creighton midfielder Greg Jordan was picked at number 32, and right back Raymon Gaddis of West Virginia was chosen as the 35th overall pick.
Jordan scored seven goals and added eight assists in his four-year collegiate career. In his senior year, he helped Creighton record 19 shutouts as a defensive midfielder. Jordan will have a terrific mentor in Brian Carroll, which should benefit the Union long-term.
Gaddis is well known to the Union staff, having played the past two seasons with affiliate Reading United of the PDL. In 2011, he earned All Big East second team honors as a senior at WVU. Gaddis could become good cover for incumbent Union right back Sheanon Williams.
It's always tough to look at the MLS SuperDraft and project who will become stars or busts in MLS. In some cases the draft picks do well in their initial year, such as C.J. Sapong of Sporting Kansas City, who was chosen a year ago with the tenth pick, and Philadelphia striker Danny Mwanga, the overall top choice in 2010. Then there are others like midfielder Nik Besagno (#1 overall by RSL in 2005), who never made it.
That's why it's so tough to put much stock when people pick winners and losers in the SuperDraft. For now, we can only go on paper. On paper, the Union are winners again in the MLS SuperDraft.
Other draft days notes:
I was a little surprised there were no trades made that involved the swapping of draft spots in this year's draft. It marked the first time in MLS history that no trades were made during the first two rounds on draft day. An earlier draft day rumor that had Brian Ching going back to Houston from Montreal along with the overall number one draft choice for defender Andrew Hainault proved to be just a rumor.
I was also surprised that Darren Mattocks did not go first to the Impact, who instead chose Andrew Wenger, who can play just about anywhere on the field. Wenger was the MAC Hermann Trophy winner this year. Of the two, I think that Mattocks has the better opportunity to do well early. Despite playing just two seasons at Akron, the Jamaican born striker netted 39 goals in 47 games. His blazing speed could be a problem for MLS opponents.
With these draft choices, as stated earlier, it's tough to project who will make it and who won't, especially in year one. In many cases, it's about opportunity. In the case of Sapong, he was able to play in every game for Sporting Kansas City, starting 22 times.
Contrast this with Omar Salgado, the overall top choice in 2011 who managed to play in just 14 games (five starts) with expansion side Vancouver. Then there's Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath (fifth overall last year), who played in eight games, seven of which were starting assignments. He was going to be brought along slowly by Union manager Peter Nowak and probably would not have played a single game in 2011 were it not for the injury to star number one goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon.
All of the 2012 draft day selections come in with high hopes and dreams of MLS stardom. Those dreams begin now with MLS teams ready to open up preseason.