Photo by Brad Smith/ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
With a bevy of defensive players available, the 2014 MLS SuperDraft lived up to expectations as the “Year of the Defender.”
The Philadelphia Union swapped picks with D.C. United and selected University of Connecticut goalkeeper Andre Blake with the No. 1 pick. After that, teams selected defenders with five of the next nine draft picks. In all, the first round saw 10 defenders chosen out of the 19 overall selections. University of California defenders Steve Birnbaum (No. 2 to D.C. United), Generation adidas member Christian Dean (No. 3 to Vancouver Whitecaps) and Ryan Neil (No. 18 to Real Salt Lake) all were taken in the first round.
The draft also had plenty of movement in the first round, with four draft-day trades taking place. In addition to the Union’s move at the start of the draft, another big move on Thursday saw the New England Revolution jump to No. 11 to select potential first overall pick and Hermann Trophy winner Patrick Mullins.
After the selections of Blake, Birnbaum, and Dean, the Revolution took forward Steve Neumann, and the Montreal Impact selected former U.S. Under-20 fullback Eric Miller. FC Dallas surprised plenty when they selected former Colorado School of Mines forward Tesho Akindele with the sixth pick of the draft, and then Jamaican youth international Andre Lewis became the second Whitecaps selection on the back of a strong performance at the MLS combine.
The Seattle Sounders, having moved into the top 10 in a trade with the Chicago Fire, selected GA defender Damion Lowe with the eighth pick. The San Jose Earthquakes followed suit with local product J.J. Koval. Toronto FC rounded out the top 10 with defender Nick Hagglund.
With the Revolution’s trade to No. 11 and the selection of Mullins, the Colorado Rapids acquired the 12th and 19th selections and took GA midfielder Marlon Hairston before closing the round with Grant Van De Casteele. Fullback Marco Franco went to the Fire at No. 13 before the Columbus Crew selected Ben Sweat.
The Union, which traded up and then later traded down (with TFC), selected midfielder Pedro Ribero at No. 15 before the Houston Dynamo drafted GA defender A.J. Cochrane at No. 16. In maybe the steal of the draft, Caleb Porter and the Portland Timbers landed GA forward Schillo Tshuma at No. 17. RSL then nabbed Neil before the Rapids rounded out the first round by picking Van De Casteele.
Chivas USA, the New York Red Bulls, the Los Angeles Galaxy, and Sporting Kansas City each had their first selections of the draft in the second round. Chivas USA led off the second round with midfielder Thomas McNamara, the Red Bulls selected defender Chris Duval (No. 22) and midfielder Eric Stevenson (No. 34), the Galaxy took a potential first round pick, defender Kyle Venter, and Sporting Kansas City finished off the second round with the selection of forward Adnan Gabeljic.
The third and fourth rounds of the draft will take place via conference call on Jan. 21.
Here’s a full recap of the first and second rounds of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft:
(A * signifies a player who signed a Generation adidas contract)
1. Philadelphia Union – *Andre Blake, GK – UConn
2. D.C. United – Steven Birnbaum, DEF – Cal-Berkeley
3. Vancouver Whitecaps – *Christian Dean, DEF – Cal-Berkeley
4. New England Revolution – Steve Neumann FWD – Georgetown
5. Montreal Impact – *Eric Miller, DEF – Creighton
6. FC Dallas – Tesho Akindele, FWD – Colorado School of Mines
7. Vancouver Whitecaps – Andre Lewis, MID – Portmore United (Jamaica)
8. Seattle Sounders – *Damion Lowe, DEF – Hartford
9. San Jose Earthquakes – J.J. Koval, MID – Stanford
10. Toronto FC – Nick Hagglund, DEF – Xavier
11. New England Revolution – Patrick Mullins, FWD – Maryland
12. Colorado Rapids – *Marlon Hairston, MID – Louisville
13. Chicago Fire – Marco Franco, DEF – UC-Irvine
14. Columbus Crew – Ben Sweat, DEF – South Florida
15. Philadelphia Union – Pedro Ribeiro, MID – Coastal Carolina
16. Houston Dynamo – *A.J. Cochran, DEF – Wisconsin
17. Portland Timbers – *Schillo Tshuma, FWD – Maryland
18. Real Salt Lake – Ryan Neil, DEF – Cal-Berkeley
19. Colorado Rapids – Grant Van De Casteele, DEF – Notre Dame
20. Chivas USA – Thomas McNamara, MID – Clemson
21. Seattle Sounders – Jimmy Ockford, DEF – Louisville
22. New York Red Bulls – Chris Duvall, DEF – Wake Forest
23. LA Galaxy – Kyle Venter, DEF – New Mexico
24. Toronto FC – Daniel Lovitz, MID – Elon
25. Philadelphia Union – Kevin Cope, MID – Michigan State
26. Portland Timbers – Taylor Peay, DEF – Washington
27. Philadelphia Union – Robbie Derschang, MID – Akron
28. San Jose Earthquakes – Joe Sofia, DEF – UCLA
29. D.C. United – Victor Muñoz, MID – UCLA
30. Vancouver Whitecaps – Mamadou Diouf, FWD – UConn
31. New England Revolution – Alec Sundly, MID – Cal-Berkeley
32. Houston Dynamo – Mark Sherrod, FWD – Memphis
33. Colorado Rapids – Jared Watts, MID – Wake Forest
34. New York Red Bulls – Eric Stevenson, MID – Akron
35. Colorado Rapids – John Berner, GK – SIU-Edwardsville
36. Portland Timbers – Aaron Long, MID – UC-Riverside
37. Montreal Impact – George Malki, MID – Cal Poly
38. Sporting Kansas City – Adnan Gabeljic – Saint Louis
What do you think of the draft results? Surprised at the amount of trades? Do you think that the Union should have traded up to take Blake? Which team scored the best draft this year?
Share your thoughts below.