This morning there were cheers, heavy sighs, and a few head scratches. The MLS SuperDraft always leaves fans and their teams with mixed emotions. While some team decisions might have some fans wanting more, most teams have a specific plan for their draft pick. I say “most teams” because sometimes you just sit and wonder what some teams were thinking. So here’s a look at our best and worst, and everything in between, for the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
Well, it’s no surprise that the best draft decision goes to the Montreal Impact. They had the number one pick so they needed to pick a “to-be” star. They found that in Andrew Wenger from Duke. Labeled as a defender, Wenger plays big and is not afraid to go for a hard tackle while still regularly appearing on the score sheet. For a team just coming into the league, Wenger could prove to be priceless as they build their team around such a young talent. Also, if he does well for the U-23 national squad, I would not be surprised if Jurgen Klinsmann comes knocking on his door very soon.
It was hard to pick a worst draft pick this year. However, I found myself scratching my head when FC Dallas chose defender Matt Hedges. Yes, yes, I know they are losing their star defender, George John, but they will not have Brek Shea much longer either. Those are two spots where you need a strong starter immediately. And when there are questions hovering around Hedges about whether he is physically able to compete in MLS, you wonder if this is the best pick. Hedges is big and strong and will definitely provide solid depth for their back line, but a first-round pick for Dallas? I don’t think so.
The best, and I believe only, deal has to go to New York. They traded their 2013 number one draft pick to the Portland Timbers for forward Kenny Cooper. Cooper had been a star for FC Dallas before he left for Europe, where he was riddled with injures. Last year he moved to the expansion side, Portland Timbers, where he was the face of the franchise. However, due to an inconsistency of goals, he was benched five consecutive games before he was back in the starting eleven. While NY has a strong set of attackers, Cooper will help fill in the gaps. Juan Agudelo will miss a good chunk of games for the Olympics, Henry is turning 35, and Rodgers is turning 30. Cooper, who is 27, put up eight goals last season while still missing five games, which is only one behind Luke Rodgers. Some people have already scratched off Cooper as a game changer, but I think this big man will prove to do some big things in the Big Apple.
Biggest Head Scratcher
Sporting Kansas City’s draft choice is a bit confusing. However, looking at Peter Vermes track record at drafting new players, it’s hard to criticize the man. But when it was announced that they picked Generation Adidas forward Dom Dwyer, I was surprised. This team already has some of the league’s strongest attackers, and young ones too. They have last year’s pick and MLS Rookie of the Year, C.J. Sapong, Teal Bunbury, as well as a midfield that is not afraid to press the goal as much as any striker. Their starting strikers are locked down. On the other hand, Sapong and Bunbury will both be out for national team duty. He could help step in when one of those two are unavailable. Nonetheless, he is a strong striker and could prove very useful; I just don’t expect to see him getting much playing time.
There were a couple of other strong picks I would like to point out.
Chicago Fire – Lucky Mkosana shows a LOT of potential. Frank Klopas may just be the man to turn him into a starter.
Vancouver Whitecaps – U-23 coach, Caleb Porter, once said, “I wouldn’t trade that kid for anyone in the country.” Darren Mattocks is easily going to be one of the most exciting players to watch this year.
Looking over all the names for this year’s draft you see a lot of attackers, and the few defenders you see are big and physical. This new class of players should promise to add to a very exciting MLS season.