LA Galaxy and the SuperDraft
By Simon Allen
Bruce Arena is a genius.
There, I've said it. Argue amongst yourselves. Not only does he know how to get the best out of the best players in MLS, he can spot young talent like no other coach in the League.
With the MLS Superdraft right around the corner LA Galaxy are positioned at the #19 spot in the First Round. Personally The MLS Superdraft is one of those beautifully American parts of American Soccer that still gets me scratching my head while trying to explain it to newbies to MLS.
In a nutshell, The LA Galaxy get to pick the best college players in America and bring them to Los Angeles. As The Galaxy were Champions last season, they get to choose...last! So the rest of MLS gets to pick before the Champs. Then in the Second Round, all the teams get to do it again but with more trading. So LA is also positioned at #24 and dead last again at #38. They got to pick at the #24 spot which was originally the Philadelphia Union's spot because LA traded that spot to get some deal with Kyle Nakazawa last year and that's where it gets rather “anorak” for me and I'd rather focus on the players after they've been selected rather than before.
Many years ago I got a lot of stick from fans when I commented about the Draft itself. I said that I didn't quite understand the whole concept of MLS waving a magic wand over a bunch of kids and presto-chango they were transformed into professional soccer players that could play Top Flight American Soccer.
I pointed out that at the same age some of these college kids were studying for midterms, Michael Owen was playing in a World Cup. I'm a firm believer of the Academy System but that's another topic for another time.
MLS SuperDraft really brings out the cream of the crop...when it comes to managers and scouts of the clubs. Arena's track record shows just how good he really is.
In 2012, LA were in the last spot and they chose Tommy Meyer from Indiana University. I don't think any player above him had a more stand-out year. I will argue that Nick Deleon who went to DC United had a brilliant year but Tommy Meyer ended up starting MLS Cup 2012 alongside Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant. In the 2009 Draft, Arena selected defenders, Omar Gonzalez and AJ DelaGarza. Gonzalez ended up as Rookie of the year.
In 2010 Arena selected midfielder Michael Stephens. He essentially gave away a draft pick for Stephens and it worked out well. Arena has a knack of selecting players that can come in and work alongside the Super Stars of the Galaxy.
So what will happen in Indiana this year?
Other teams will be looking to fill the holes in the rosters or shore up the bench or both. I don't think the LA Galaxy need to do any of those things. The Galaxy boasts the best set of Goalkeepers in the League with new edition Carlo Cudicini almost instantly becoming the most experienced goalie in MLS.
In Defense the Galaxy aren't lacking either. Even though injury was a problem all last season, there were enough quality defenders on the squad to get them to MLS Cup.
The midfield has plenty of quality in Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas and Landon Donovan. The missing ingredient this season will be who LA brings in to replace David Beckham. If the rumors are correct and Frank Lampard is signed and brought in later then bringing in Colin Clark will be the temporary fix needed until then. The Galaxy have plenty of “bench” midfielders. Of course, if Donovan decides to leave soccer for good then Arena may have to promote Stephens to the starting XI and perhaps select a midfielder in Indiana.
LA's forward situation is also bright but limited. Robbie Keane and Mike Magee had a stellar year. The connection between Keane and LD was almost psychic. Edson Buddle had a difficult year and was shipped out to Colorado. So other than Jack McBean, LA may select a forward in the draft.
Arena's MO for the past two years has been to bring in a quality foreign player midseason that pushes the team into the Finals. Robbie Keane came in mid season 2 years ago and Christian Wilhelmsson last season. It worked, so I don't think he will stray from that formula. I can see that happening this year as a proven goal scorer from Europe can be easily slotted into the squad to help out Magee and Keane.
Everyone I've talked to tells me that Kory Kindle, a defender from SCU Bakersfield will be selected. I'm not sure. Who's to say what's going on in the minds of MLS coaches? And how the draft selections will be played out? I'd rather watch a match than sit through the Draft and LA have bigger fish to fry. Keeping Donovan in the soccer world and securing a big name to replace Beckham.
Any college player selected will be reserved to B team status perhaps making a name for himself during the CONCACAF Champions League. When it's all said and done, I don't think this years draft will make too big of an impact on the squad. But The Ball is Round...Anything Could Happen!
I really don't like the draft, it is not necessary. The academies are the development centers, and supposed to be the cream of the crop, not picking them right from college.
Some quality picks come out of the draft in the second and third round still. How i love the draft.