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By IVES GALARCEP
Now that all 77 picks have been made, and scarves placed around the necks of draftees, and even the one tricky situation involving a draft pick appears resolved (for now), it is time to look back at how all 19 teams fared in the 2014 MLS Draft.
It will take a few years to really know just how well or poorly teams judged the talent in this year’s draft, but we will offer a breakdown of all 19 teams based on how this year’s prospects were rated heading into the draft.
We won’t do traditional grading, but rather we will rank MLS teams from 1 to 19, with the team that enjoyed the best draft haul holding onto the top spot.
Keep in mind that players drafted aren’t the only factor in the grades. Getting value for where picks are positioned is a big key, and accruing things like allocation money or other players via trades involving draft picks can also boost or hurt a team’s grade. If your team gave away a high draft pick for a player who was less than stellar, chances are your team’s grade will be low.
Here is a look at how all 19 MLS teams fared in the 2014 MLS Draft:
2014 MLS DRAFT: SBI Team Rankings
1. PHILADELPHIA UNION
(1) GK-Andre Blake, (15) M- Pedro Ribeiro, (25) CB- Kevin Cope, (27) LB/LM- Robbie Derschang, (44) CB- Richie Marquez, (46) M- Alex Sweetin, (52) M- Aodhan Quinn, (63) M- Luca Gimenez.
Moved up to grab the best talent in the draft in Blake, then wheeling and dealing allowed the Union to re-coup the allocation money and still land two top talents at their positions in Ribeiro and Cope.
Second day value in Marquez, who is a project, but a very athletic one. Sweetin, Quinn and Gimenez will battle for midfield roster spots and John Hackworth will be happy if one of them makes the squad.
2. PORTLAND TIMBERS
(17) F- Schillo Tshuma, (26) CB- Taylor Peay, (36) DM- Aaron Long, (39) DM- George Fochive, (71) F- Victor Chavez, (73) LM- Nikita Kotlov.
Draft was textbook for the Timbers, who landed an absolute steal in the first round, then snatched some great values in the fourth round. Tshuma could be a perfect fit for Portland’s 4-3-3, giving the team some left forward depth in the absence of injured starter Rodney Wallace. Taylor Peay was one of the best athletes in the draft and a centerback project Caleb Porter won’t mind working in.
Long and Fochive will battle to provide defensive midfield depth, while Chavez and Kotlov were second-round values who slipped in the draft. Making the team won’t be easy, but Kotlov could be one of the steals of the draft if he makes the team, and if Porter can help him find his 2012 form.
3. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
(3) CB- Christian Dean, (7) M- Andre Lewis, (30) F- Mamadou Diouf, (51) DM- Michael Kafari, (58) F- Mackenzie Pridham, (64) AM- Michael Calderon.
Might seem odd to have Vancouver rated this highly given the Andre Lewis fiasco, but given the fact that MLS HQ is on the hook for that mess, and Lewis is heading to the Whitecaps on loan, we can still add him to what was actually a strong draft-day haul.
Vancouver loaded up on potential, not sure things, so the Whitecaps could wind up with the best draft of the bunch, or a forgettable one. Dean is a classic boom-or-bust pick. Some prospects love him, some don’t think he’s mentally strong enough to be a top pro. Lewis is a dynamic young midfielder who could take some time to make an impact, while Diouf just might be the one who makes the most immediate impact as a real second-round steal. The day two picks all have some potential, but making the team will be tough, particularly for the likes of Calderon.
4. COLORADO RAPIDS
(12) M- Marlon Hairston, (19) CB- Grant Van De Casteele, (33) DM- Jared Watts, (35) GK- John Berner, (49) CB- Tolani Ibikunle, (68) D- Albert Edward.
Went with a longer-term project in Hairston, who will need a few years to be a useful MLS player, but later day one picks Van De Casteele and Watts should help give Colorado some immediate depth. Day two flyers weren’t as impressive.
5. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
(4) F/M- Steve Neumann, (11) F- Patrick Mullins, (31) DM- Alec Sundly, (50) F- Pierre Omanga.
Grabbing Neumann and Mullins in the first round was a major boost to a forward line that needed revamping. Sundly would have been rated higher on draft day if not for concerns of a failed physical (due to a blood pressure issue New England did get cleared) so he could provide some depth. Omanga is very much a project. Failing to snag a physical defensive midfielder seemed an oversight, but then we don’t know what international moves the Revs might be making.
6- D.C. UNITED
(2) CB-Steve Birnbaum, (29) M- Victor Munoz, (56) DM- Zach Barnes, (69) D- Travis Golden.
Scoring what sources tell SBI was a $75,000 allocation simply for moving from No. 1 to No. 2 overall was a good bit of business, and grabbing a sure thing in Birnbaum was a wise decision. Munoz has good quality and technical skill, but his international status makes him a bit of a luxury pick. Barnes has the quality to make the roster, while Golden will have a tough time making the squad.
7. CHICAGO FIRE
(13) RB- Marco Franco, (61) LM- Zach Bolden, (65) LM- Kadeem Dacres, (75) DM- Bryan Ciesiulka,
Needed a natural right back and landed arguably the best one in the draft in Franco, who could step right in and start for the Fire. Bolden and Dacres should provide some wing depth, while Ciesiulka was a Fire Homegrown Player the team passed on signing before deciding to grab him in the final round for a chance to make the team in camp.
8. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
(9) DM- J.J. Koval, (28) CB- Joe Sofia, (47) AM- A.J. Corrado, (66) RB- Devante Dubose, (74) GK- Billy Knutsen.
Added a good central midfield in Koval, which fills a need, and scored good value in Sofia, who fell off the radar a bit after not being invited to the MLS Combine. Corrado has the skill to offer something off the bench, while college centerback Devante DuBose looks likely to be groomed as a right back.
9. SPORTING KANSAS CITY
(38) F- Adnan Gabeljic, (41) CB- Peter Schmetz, (57) M- Alex Martinez, (76) F- Reinaldo Brenes
Considering the champs didn’t have a pick until the end of the second round, Sporting KC had a strong draft. Gabeljic has the size-speed combo to do well in the pros, Schemtz is a large centerback project and Martinez has the skill to give KC some good central midfield depth. Grabbing Brenes late in the fourth round could prove to be one of the best value picks of the entire draft.
10. MONTREAL IMPACT
(5) RB/LB- Eric Miller, (37) RM- George Malki, (48) F- Pete Caringi, (67) F- Jordan Ongaro
Frank Klopas wanted Eric Miller and he got him, trading him to snag the Generation adidas right back from Creighton. Miller can play right back or left back, and could start as a rookie. Malki is a project as a winger, while Caringi is a sleeper who could wind up sticking.
11. HOUSTON DYNAMO
(16) CB- A.J. Cochran, (32) F- Mark Sherrod, (54) GK- Michael Lisch
Scored good value at 16 with Cochran, a Generation adidas centerback with good upside. Sherrod has the talent to make the team as a resident bruiser forward, while Lisch should slot in as a third goalkeeper.
12. FC DALLAS
(6) F- Tesho Akindele, (43) CB- Nicholas Walker, (62) CB- Ronny Mendoza.
Dallas jumped on Akindele early rather than trading down to take him. Smart move, or wasted value? There were definitely teams eying him in the first round, but No. 6 felt really early.
Walker and Mendoza are both intriguing centerback prospects who could give FC Dallas value, but both are international players and both play a position that is FC Dallas’ deepest. Dallas did add an international player slot to move down one spot in the first round.
13. COLUMBUS CREW
(14) LB- Ben Sweat, (42) DM- Kingsley Baiden, (45) M/F- Adam Bedell,
Position scarcity suggests grabbing Sweat was a good value, and his ties to the Crew made it an easier pick, but you have to wonder if the Crew didn’t miss out on some better talents still on the board at that pick. Baiden is an interesting third-round pick, but it’s tough seeing him getting playing time any time soon. I forgot to factor in the fact the Crew traded the No. 4 overall pick (and allocation money) to New England for the rights to Michael Parkhurst, which boosts them to this spot.
14. LOS ANGELES GALAXY
(23) CB- Kyle Venter
Passing on their fourth-round pick seemed a bit silly, but they still earn a relative good mark for this draft for trading out of the first round and securing allocation money, and then still landing a first-round value in Venter, who went 8-10 picks later than he should have. Another good draft day for Bruce Arena.
15. REAL SALT LAKE
(18) RB/RM- Ryan Neil, (53) DM- Joey Dillon, (70) Daniel Jackson.
Landed a good player in Neil who can offer an option at right back or the right wing, giving RSL some width they needed. Dillon was an absolute steal at 53 and is good enough to make this team.
16. TORONTO FC
(10) CB- Nick Hagglund, (24) LM- Daniel Lovitz, (60) F- Kene Eze,
Hagglund could wind up being a very good centerback, but wasn’t the best one on the board when taken. Lovitz also felt like a reach. Eze is a long shot to make the team.
17. SEATTLE SOUNDERS
(8) CB- Damion Lowe, (21) CB- Jimmy Ockford, (55) M/F- Stefano Rijssel, (77) AM- Fabio Pereira.
Landing a long-term project and Generation adidas player like Lowe is generally a smart move, but there was a sense that he went too early. Ockford was not the best centerback on the board when he was drafted. Rijssel is an international player who will struggle to make the team, while Pereira could wind up providing some value if he can get his green card, which sources tell SBI is in the works already.
18. NEW YORK RED BULLS
(22) RB- Chris Duvall, (34), LB/LM- Eric Stevenson.
Reached with first pick, grabbing Duvall at least a round earlier than they needed to, while Stevenson could wind up being a good value. Low rating has as much to do with the fact the Red Bulls traded out of the first round to add enigmatic midfielder Bobby Convey.
19. CHIVAS USA
(20) AM- Tommy McNamara, (40) F/M- Kris Tyrpak, (59) CB- Michael Nwiloh
Reached a bit for McNamara, who does have some good quality, and may have found a gem in Tyrpak. So why No. 19? Trading away what became the No. 2 overall pick for Gabriel Farfan drops the Goats to the bottom of the 2014 MLS Draft rankings.