The Philadelphia Union will add another crop of young studs into the family tomorrow as the 2012 MLS SuperDraft takes place in Kansas City. With only two drafts under their belt, you’d have to say that Nowak and Hackworth have one of the best track records (though short as it is) in Major League Soccer when it comes to the SuperDraft. Six of their nine draft picks have earned significant minutes in 2010 and 2011 and look poised to make up the core for seasons to come.
Here’s a quick look at the history of the draft picks that the Union currently hold for the 2012 SuperDraft: #13, #32, and #35…
The #13 Spot
Frei has done enough over the years to earn much warranted interest from abroad. Started for the Reds right off the bat in 2009, earning praise even with a suspect defense in front of him. Milos Kocic and rumors that Frei is looking elsewhere could see the Swiss keeper moving onward. The past two season, however, have shown that he is one of the better goalkeepers in the league and one to watch out for in the future wherever he ends up.
Mastroeni needs no introduction. Taken by Miami in 1998, he has registered over 300 appearances in Major League Soccer with the Fusion and the Colorado Rapids. Though he’s 35 years old, Mastroeni was a main force in the Rapids winning an MLS Cup in 2010. His hard-nosed tackling and work rate earned him 65 caps for the US Men’s National Team (2 Gold Cup Championships, 2 World Cup rosters).
Decent Picks: Arturo Alvarez (MF – San Jose), Josh Gardner (MF – Los Angeles), Jed Zayner (Columbus), Rodrigo Faria (Metrostars), Seth George (FW – Los Angeles),
Faria was a flash in the pan, winning Rookie of the Year honors for the Metrostars in 2001. Scored eight goals in his rookie campaign and 12 in his sophomore before the Metrostars’ move for coach Bob Bradley sent him to Chicago. Rarely heard from after that with Chicago and San Jose. Arturo Alvarez, now with Chivas USA after the 2011 Re-Entry Draft, can play the role of catalyst with great technical skills but still operates on an inconsistent basis. He has played well enough in MLS, however, to earn a role with the El Salvadorian national team. Gardner was a stud in the USL after a failed stint with Los Angeles. His time in USL pushed him back onto a Major League Soccer team with the Crew where he enjoyed a breakout year. He wasn’t protected and will start the 2012 season with the expansion Montreal Impact. Jed Zayner has an MLS Cup to his name and has played the role of stop-gap starter well. He is now a free agent.
Remains to be Seen: Corben Bone (MF – Chicago), Corey Hertzog (FW – Red Bull New York)
Drafted to 2010, Bone has come by 15 appearances for the Fire but has yet to really crack their starting XI. Hertzog sits behind Luke Rodgers and Thierry Henry on the depth chart in New York – he’ll have late appearances and the occasional Open Cup to prove his worth.
Duds: John Michael Hayden (Houston), Jamie Watson (RSL), Rob Valentino (New England), Neibles (Los Angeles), Smith (Columbus), Brownell (San Jose)
Given his youth national team pedigree, Watson underperformed in Major League Soccer but still was appreciated for his tenacity and work rate. He has found a home in USL-Pro with Orlando City. Still managed over 35 caps with Real Salt Lake in their early years.
The #32 Spot
Best Pick: Luke Sassano (MF/DF- Red Bull New York)
Now with Kansas City, Sassano played an important role at one time for the Red Bulls helping them out in 2008 with his versatility (fullback, defensive midfielder). He found his way to Kansas City via the first ever Re-Entry Draft (through Los Angeles) but has yet to break into the first team there (though he did register his first MLS goal in 2011).
Decent Picks: Quincy Amarikwa (FW – San Jose), Jay Needham (DF – DC United)
Decent picks meaning they picked mid-level quality but other teams were the ones who eventually discovered it. Amarikwa now comes off the bench in Colorado. Needham was the 2007 USL-1 Rookie of the Year for Puerto Rico before heading to Norway to feature for Alta no less than 50 times.
Duds: JT Murray (SKC), Davis (RSL), Schmid (Houston), K.Arena (Metros), Sutton (Columbus), Klaas (San Jose), Lee (Colorado), Peart (Kansas City), Meyer (Colorado), Sanchez (Kansas City)
The #35 Spot
Pretty solid picks for the #35 spot. Rimando won over the starting spot in Miami before the franchise folded. He landed in DC and then with Real Salt Lake in their expansion year. The rest is history – 2 MLS Cups, national team call-ups, Rimando is seen as one of the best goalkeepers in Major League Soccer. LaBrocca (Rutgers) didn’t have his breakout year with the Rapids, though he featured over 60 times in their set-up. It wasn’t until 2011 that LaBrocca put things together ending the season an All-Star and notching 8 goals for the campaign. Segares, despite a brief test of the European waters in Cyprus, is Chicago through and through. He has been their rock at left back for some time and has earned 19 caps for the Costa Rican national team.
Could’ve Been the Best Pick: Rob Friend (FW – Chicago)
Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga goal scorer that went to UC-Santa Barbara. The Fire drafted him in the fourth round in 2003 only to see him opt to play in Norway. It turned out to be the best thing for him as Friend grew to become one of the best strikers in Norway (playing for Moss then Molde). His play landed him a role in the Eredivisie with Michael Bradley’s former club Heerenveen before the 6’5″ Canadian giant found a permanent home in Germany with (yet another Michael Bradley club) Borussia Monchengladbach. He finished runner-up on the scoring charts in the 2.Bundesliga as Gladbach were promoted to the Bundesliga. Scored 10 goals in the top flight before returning to the 2.Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt (Rico Clark’s squad).
Duds: Stafford (KCW), Lapira (Toronto FC), Tangney (Chivas USA), Campbell (FCD), Christensen (Chivas USA), Nusum (Columbus), Brown (New England), Richards (Colorado), Lewis (Dallas), Brown (Colorado)