Juan Leone Cruz
As the day winds down, I think the general consensus in the Seattle camp is that everything went better than expected. Yes, Draft Days are usually ridiculously long, drawn-out, and complicated, but for some reason Seattle cut straight to the point and left very happy.
The first thing I saw this morning when I logged onto the draft mid-way through the first round was that Seattle had traded down. To Portland. My first reaction was disbelief and just a silent "...whut... why?!". It was at that point that I sort of doomed Seattle's chances at pulling a spectacular draft. However, by the second round, there were still so many great players left that I was starting to feel optimistic for the favorites I had singled out. Our first pick for 2011 in Michael Tetteh was a solid pick all-around. It was very surprising to see him drop that far down, but I'll gladly take his Generation Adidas contract.
It was at that point in the draft that my brain was working in overdrive trying to figure out the best of what was left. And seconds after screaming "MICHAEL FARFAN MICHAEL FARFAN", Seattle picked up SMU Defender Juan Leone Cruz. At first I was confused. And then flabbergasted. And then as it set, intrigued. So, two picks in, and two defenders. OK, but I was still keeping my fingers crossed. After Farfan and John Rooney (NYRB have "Marquez", "Henry", and "Rooney" now. lol) got picked up, we were back on with still a huge selection available.
And then out of nowhere (or actually University of California) Sigi snaps up Servando Carrasco followed by "small-school" keeper Bryan Meredith, passing up on talent like Ampai and Levi Houapeu. These picks were typically Sigi.
Which is why at first I was disappointed. Sigi is not known for being an exceptional scout, say on the level of Guus Hiddink. He's probably closer to Raymond Domenech, in that he only uses old players he knows or players from the same TWO universities in California: see Carrasco. So while most people didn't know much about Carrasco other than he showed up to Combine, Sigi (or his coaches) apparently kept tabs on him. But maybe there's a reason no one knew anything about Carrasco. Because who the hell is he?! Pro Player Pipeline, which has comments and notes on every single player, didn't even have anything helpful.
The last pick of the day was Davidson MF Alex Caskey, and for me, I knew next to nothing about him. I also had the strange feeling I wasn't alone. This is what Technical Director Chris Henderson had to say about him.
"Caskey is a guy that had a really good weekend. Can play in the middle of midfield. Sees the field well. Good passer."
He played a decent combine so we drafted him. OK. So after our two solid defensive picks, I honestly felt like we threw away two of our last picks in Carrasco and Caskey. Not that they are bad players, but for the following reasons.
For Carrasco, we gave up: Superman Anthony Ampaipitakwong, D Colin Givens, Louisville attacker Charlie Campbell, solid back Chris Korb, Drogba-like-attacker Levi Houapeu, and Maryland maestro Jason Herrick. All those guys could potentially start in half a season. Will Carrasco be able to?
Likewise, in Caskey, we got another guy from a small school who led his team as a senior. However, I spent 5 minutes watching his (only) highlight video to find out he's a pure raw talent who dribbles way too much, and will need a lot of grooming before he could match the level of Mike Seamon. Other than that, the only evidence I have for any logical reason in picking him is that he had a good combine. So I guess the Sounders staff really saw something worthwhile in him in 3 games that they couldn't be bothered to research before. In other words, he is a pure gamble on just three games + some video highlights worth of scouting time. Maybe I'm assuming here, but I haven't seen any evidence proving me wrong. From any other scouts, or any other teams.
The one redeeming pick was Monmouth GK Bryan Meredith. Pre-draft we were all mentioning U-20 Keeper Zac MacMath, and the more unconvincing Jeff Attinella, but Bryan Meredith was a small-school name that came out of nowhere. At first, I was lumping him in with Carrasco and Caskey as "I don't care who this guy is, why did we pass on Ampai?!", but watch his highlight video now.
Meredith might be related to Marshawn Lynch, because he turns on the beast mode. The guy is a penalty stopping machine. After watching his highlights, I was almost immediately reminded of a guy I used to play with. A tendency for the acrobatic and aerobic saves. Punch first, then ask questions. Rushes out and throws his body on the line like he's protecting his life in the net. Those kinds of goalies are always the insane kind, and somehow they're the kind you always feel safest with. Does that player description remind you of anyone else?
If I didn't know next to nothing about him, I would call him the next incarnation of Kasey Keller. Yeah, I said it.
Besides the fact that he'll be calling the legend Kasey Keller 'sir' and 'master' as a an apprentice goalie, goalkeeping coach Tom Dutra has been following for a while and believes he has all the necessary physical attributes to succeed. At 6'2'', he can move with surprising fluidity. These are all good signs for Meredith's future and the chance that he could one day fill Kasey's gloves.
So in the end, Seattle significantly bolstered their depth in the back, but not with immediate impact players. And after getting the chance to review the picks, I think I feel a little bit better about today's performance. We were able to get some much needed cap space by trading down to Portland, and according to our FO, we hit most of our targets. The only thing I wish we could've done differently was to take a more calculated gamble on an attacker with the potential to bring some spark. John Rooney and Houapeu would've been interesting, but I think for Sigi and Co, "if it ain't broke, don't waste money".
How do you think we did on Draft Day? Happy with who we got, or just how many we got? Any favorites already?