Today the SB Nation MLS blog network conducted a mock version of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. The advantage to doing this is that team bloggers should know their own teams better than a national writer. The disadvantage is that most of us don't follow the national collegiate scene in ways that a real experts like Maureci, Clark and Eskilson can. Drafting off resumes, second hand data and snippets of YouTube videos makes the inexact art of sports drafting even less accurate. After the first few picks it becomes an exercise in reacting to the moves of other teams and that is essentially what the Seattle Sounders will be doing.
Similar to Hanauer and Co in the real draft the pick here are a reaction to opportunities based on a few assumptions. In efforts to be as like the Sounders front office as possible the board used to evaluate picks was unlike most in MLS. It leans heavily towards Southern California, towards those already connected to the team (if even just the Vegas Combine) and with no regard for "team needs." The mock draft did not allow trades and so with players like Kelyn Rowe (mock taken 4th by Toronto FC), Andrew Wenger, Tyler Polak and Chris Estridge all impossible to pick my guess as to Seattle 15th overall pick was Dom Dwyer, Junior out of the University of South Florida.
Dwyer was a late addition to the Generation Adidas class. It surprised some national writers that an underclassman was at Seattle's Vegas Combine, but that may be what took Dwyer from GA target to GA finalist. Through half of the MLS Combine his stock is neutral at best and possibly falling. Like most MLS teams a Generation Adidas player has slightly more value than a college senior or an international. Showing up in the next 36 hours over at SB Nation's soccer portal I describe Dwyer;
... a player in some ways similar to Steve Zakuani in that he looked to the American college game to reignite his footballing career. Unlike Zakuani it wasn't injury that kept him from succeeding, but an attachment to a small club. Though early combine reports are marginal, his season with University of South Florida in the Big East earned him Offensive Player of the Year and 2nd Team All-American. He was one of the last players to sign a GA deal this year.
Listed at 5'9 and 180 he's a strong and fast forward who nets goals through off-ball movement, speed and quick trigger. For the Sounders he would play a high forward in similar style to Mike Fucito rather than Sammy Ochoa. His conversion to the American game succeeded in Junior College when he had 37 goals in 2010. In one of the best conferences in NCAA Division One he netted 16 goals and 2 assists.
A player with a Zakuani-like background and Fucito-like skill set certainly could do well, but again my scouting is based on resume and compiled reports. Seattle does not have a lot of depth at forward so if they add a forward he would seem likely to get significant playing time if only in whatever form the Reserve League takes for 2012.
The second round mock is even more of a reaction. It is also where divergence in team value becomes readily apparent.
The board I had was quite short at this point. There were three college combine players, a possibility at one of the internationals (but since the first round pick was an international I felt that direction highly unlikely) and two players who are not at the combine. When pick 30 came around I was confident I could nab decent value. Then all three of those college combine kids were selected by other SB Nation bloggers. Ray Gaddiss and RJ Allen were both known Vegas Combine invitees and defenders (trying to balance from the offense round one). Either would make sense here as Seattle is oldest on average at rightback. Then Cal-Irvine mdfielder Miguel Ibarra went to Sporting KC eliminating the last of any consensus player on my list.
The two non-combine players on my list were Jacob Hustedt and Jamie Finch. Both could be MLS players, but in order to have bit more lineup balance pick 34 went to Finch. We'll address the seeming comedy of a 4th leftback being on the team in a moment. Finch is rated 42nd by Maureci on his pre-combine Big Board, so the pick isn't absurd. Finch started dedicating himself to soccer a bit late and maybe undersized, but he was a decent assist man and part of a strong defensive unit. As we've stated many time Coach Jamie Clark understands MLS as a player, coach of players and colleague. Being local may help Seattle's awareness of Finch, though they likely would not need to use a second round pick to get the former Emerald City FC and Inglemoor High player.
Selecting a leftback who makes the club would be an indication that the Michael Tetteh as defender experiment would be over. Instead the strong ball handler would move to what often seems a more natural role - left midfield. Which while crowded, has more space for a player who needs a defender behind him at the MLS level.
Will Seattle Sounders FC get either of these players? Probably not. But hopefully the process to their selection shines some light for our readers.