Are you ready for another Major League Soccer draft?
Fresh off the heels of the Chivas dispersal draft, the Orlando/New York expansion draft and a waiver draft — not to mention a fairly active trade window — stage one of the MLS re-entry draft is Friday at 2 p.m.
The re-entry draft will feature 62 players who either had their options declined or who are out of contract. It’s sort of Major League Soccer’s version of free agency.
How is eligibility determined?
Quoting directly from the MLS roster rules:
▪ Players who are at least 23 years old and have a minimum of three years experience in MLS whose options were not exercised by their clubs (available at option salary for 2015).
▪ Players who are at least 25 years old with a minimum of four years of MLS experience who are out of contract and whose club does not wish to re-sign them at their previous salary (available for at least their 2014 salary).
▪ Players who are at least 30 years old with a minimum of eight years of MLS experience who are out of contract and whose club does not wish to re-sign them (available for at least 105% of their 2014 salary).
Kansas City has three former players in this draft: Josh Gardner (last seen taking up the sport of one-man competitive volleyball), Andy Gruenebaum and Eric Kronberg.
When does KC pick?
Sporting KC has the ninth pick.
How long will the draft last?
If a team passes in the first round, it will not have a selection in the second round. Last year, the draft continued for three rounds until D.C. United finally passed after selecting Sean Franklin and Bobby Boswell.
Overall, only five players were selected last year during stage one. Eight were selected during stage two.
What’s the difference between the two stages?
If a team selects a player during stage one it will exercise his current contract or extend his contract via a bona fide offer. (Basically, you are on the hook for that players’ currently salary or maybe a little bit more.)
Players who are not selected in stage one of the re-entry draft will be made available in stage two. Clubs selecting players in stage two will negotiate a new salary with the player.
Will it be broadcast?
No. Results will be posted at MLSsoccer.com after it concludes.
Will Sporting KC select someone?
Probably not. Peter Vermes has passed in every re-entry draft since selecting Frankie Hejduk during stage two in 2010. Hejduk’s rights were traded to Los Angeles for Luke Sassano after the draft.
Are there decent prospects?
Yes, kind of.
The list of 62 players is filled with useful players and, last year, D.C. United used the re-entry draft to fill its roster with useful (but expensive) players such as Boswell, Franklin and Fabian Espindola (in stage two). They did all right in 2014.
But a lot of the useful players available this year don’t really fit with Kansas City’s needs. Though, after KC’s recent cuts it seems like, suddenly there are a lot of needs — forwards, defensive midfielder, center back, goalkeeper, announcers.
Some of the players are too expensive for KC (example: Marvin Chavez at $200k and Hendry Thomas at $180k). Others probably on the other side of their athletic peak (I might like Philly’s Brian Carroll three years ago for KC).
There are three players that standout to me as affordable players that could help fill out KC’s roster as rotation players.
Kalif Alhassan, midfielder, Portland. It feels like he’s been in MLS for a decade, but he’s only 24. His playing time fell with the Timbers last season, but he still oozes potential as a two-way midfielder. His errant shooting could remind Vermes of another errant-shooting, high-potential player who fell out of favor with a club — Kei Kamara.
Alex Caskey, midfielder, D.C. United. The former Sounder wasn’t a part of United’s senior roster and spent time in the USL Pro. He’s not a spectacular midfielder, but he’s a gritty, hard-tackling guy who could be a rotation option for Paulo Nagamura. Kansas City didn’t have anyone close to matching that description last year.
Chandler Hoffman, forward, Los Angeles. Kansas City currently lacks a physical forward now that C.J. Sapong is gone. While still a project, Hoffman scored double-digit goals in USL Pro last year — just like Dom Dwyer did with Orlando. Like Caskey, he’ll have a very reasonable salary that could give KC solid depth without costing valuable senior-roster spots.
But, having written all of that... I think Vermes will pass. He has assets to use for trades and acquisitions, my gut says he’ll follow that avenue instead of this draft.
In case you’re wondering, there are only two starting goalkeepers in the mix: Montreal’s Troy Perkins and San Jose’s John Busch. I don’t think either would really interest Vermes.