Kansas City is the center of the soccer this weekend. Well, at least as it pertains to the U.S. version of the game.
The National Soccer Coaches Association of American convention is in full swing and that brings with it a lot of attractions. But the most pertinent one for soccer fans in Kansas City is likely going to be the MLS SuperDraft. (The WPS Draft is Friday morning, but since KC doesn’t have a women’s team, the attention paid to that will likely be less.)
So, consider this your “what in the world is going on and when” primer for Thursday.
The Draft Details
The bro-hah kicks off at 11 a.m. at the Kansas City Convention Center, The Grand Ballroom. If you can make it out, entry to the draft is free* and the Cauldron is planning a pre-draft march after
a supporter's breakfast at Johnny's Tavern
*However, seating is limited.
If you can't make it out to the event, the draft will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and I'll be live tweeting/blogging it as well.
The 19 MLS teams will select from about 200 draft-eligible players -- some college, some youth international.
You'll hear/have heard "Generation adidas" bandied about a bit. Here's what it means: "Generation adidas is a joint program between MLS and adidas that is dedicated to developing exceptional domestic talent in a professional environment. Each year, a handful of top domestic underclassmen and youth national team soccer players are signed by the League and placed in the SuperDraft through this program."
Got it? The benefit of a GA contract (as it is called), is that adidas/MLS pays the player and not the team. It gives a team a lot of salary cap flexibility.
How Does the Draft Work?
There will be 38 selections over two rounds. Each team will have four minutes to make a selection. There will be a five-minute intermission between the two rounds.
Sporting Kansas City are scheduled to have the #16 (first round) and #30 (second round, from Dallas) picks. (Rounds three-six will take place as part of the Supplemental Draft next week.)
As for trades, the commissioner must verify and approve all trades prior to being announced.
14 Players I’m Doing Research On
Mel Kiper Jr. I am not. For starters,
I don’t have enough hair.
So, I won’t even pretend that I know enough about the college prospects -- nor the individual needs of each team -- to wager a mock draft.
However, I have been doing my research on 14 players I think are likely Sporting KC targets. My list comes from studying KC’s needs,
looking over the patterns I laid out yesterday
, and checking various mock drafts and MLS Combine reports. Here goes. (These are in no particular order, other than the likely second rounders come last.)
Ethan Finlay, FW, Creighton.
Crafty, goal-scoring forward will likely go before KC gets to the podium. Had a hat trick during the Combine.
Tyler Polak, DF, Creighton/GA.
One of five highly-rated leftbacks, comes with the Generation adidas salary protection. Probably won’t make it past the Chicago Fire.
Sam Garza, MF, UCSB/GA.
Another useful wide player, also with GA protection.
Luis Silva, MF, UCSB.
Some mocks have him in the Top 5, some in the bottom half. Has great size and skill on the ball.
Austin Berry, DF, Louisville.
Centerback is likely a need for KC and Berry is a big, physical defender.
Chris Estridge, DF, Indiana.
Another fullback, but one with KC ties -- Estridge spent a few days training with KC this summer.
Tommy Meyer, DF, Indiana.
Estridge’s teammate is a St. Louis native and fits the big/physical bill.
Tony Cascio, MF/FW, Connecticut.
Creative wide attacking player, shouldn’t be around by #16.
Dom Dwyer, FW, South Florida/GA.
The Englishman is a pest and a goal scorer, the likes of which Kansas City doesn’t have. Could he fall?
Luckymore Mkosana, FW, Dartmouth.
A bit of a project, but has speed and size out wide. Could be a second-round flier.
Callum Mallace, MF, Marquette.
Holding midfielder with a fantastic name. A late-round guy by all accounts.
RJ Allen, DF, Monmouth.
A very versatile player -- defensive midfielder, right back or right wing.
Kohei Yamada, MF, Japan/International.
I have to admit, I’m taking Travis Clark’s lead at MLSsoccer.com on this guy. Seems like a Vermes pick in the second.
Brendan King, MF, Notre Dame.
Because he’s from Notre Dame. And he can play any attacking midfield spot with either foot. A second-rounder.
Here are five more names I'd at least Google before tomorrow: Colin Rolfe (FW, Louisville), Evans Frimpong (FW, Delaware), Andy Rose (MF, UCLA), Kevan George (DF, Central Florida) and Brian Ownby (FW, Virginia).
Rolfe and Ownby are first-round talents who saw their stock fall due to injuries. Vermes lauded his training staff when acquiring injury-prone players like Paulo Nagamura and Bobby Convey. Perhaps he thinks his staff could recuperate guys like Rolfe/Ownby. Both of whom would be high-risk, high-reward second round picks.
Make sure you check me out on Twitter (@TheFull90) for my live tweets at the draft. The blog will be updated periodically throughout the draft and day.