Three for Thursday: Home run lottery-awarded players
You need a double-dose of luck when it comes to MLS player lotteries.
No, it's not enough to be lucky to merely win one as the San Jose Earthquakes were on Thursday, landing former college star Marcus Tracy with a mere 4.6 percent chance going in.
You also have to be lucky that the player pans out.
Unlike personnel that is carefully scouted and evaluated before putting pen to paper, lottery picks in MLS fall on your lap. History is dotted with those lottery pick-ups that just don't amount to much (David Arvizu, Israel Sesay and Gus Kartes), those that become serviceable players (Joe DiGiamarino, Nelson Akwari and Winston Griffiths) and others that have to move before becoming effective (Kyle Beckerman, Lee Nguyen and Sal Zizzo).
Then there are the absolute home runs, three of which we highlight below:
1. Nat Borchers
Would Real Salt Lake ever have become the juggernaut in MLS without landing Borchers by pure chance?
On Valentine's Day of 2008, RSL got the kiss of luck by landing Borchers in a player allocation lottery after spending two seasons in Norway with Odd Grenland.
The RSL center back partnership he formed with Jámison Olave would be the basis for numerous shutouts and wins in the years that followed, vaulting both defenders among the elite in their position to this day.
2. Robbie Rogers
While Rogers may not have departed on the best of terms from Columbus — where a combination of ineffective play, injuries and occasional personality clashes eventually led to his departure upon the expiration of his contract — his arrival there in 2007 proved one of the key pieces for the silverware haul that was to follow in subsequent years.
He was a central figure in the side that captured back-to-back Supporters' Shields along with MLS Cup 2008, winning a place on the 2008 MLS Best XI and subsequently earning time with the US national team.
Rogers became a maddening figure for Crew and US fans alike, mixing sensational performances with anonymous ones, but always showing a flare for the unpredictable.
3. Luis Gil
Sporting Kansas City won the Gil sweepstakes on February 22, 2010, but the teenager's camp had made it clear beforehand that the player wanted to be based out West.
A day later, RSL were able to orchestrate a deal to land Gil in a deal involving an international roster spot, a second-round draft pick who no longer plays for Sporting and a share of a future transfer fee.
That last part of the deal could yet turn into real value for Sporting after Gil came in at No. 14 in the third annual 24 Under 24 rankings of the top young players in MLS.
Gil had a breakout season in 2011 and he is already a regular contributor this year as an 18-year-old for Real Salt Lake. There's plenty more in store for this teenager, including what many believe to be a prosperous national team career.