Defense was the order of the day at the 2005 MLS SuperDraft at the Baltimore Convention Center, as 7 defenders were taken in the first round and 17 were selected throughout Friday afternoon.
Six defenders were taken in row from the fifth pick to the 10th pick. Southern University's Ugo Ihemelu started the string when he was selected by the Los Angeles Galaxy, then Drew Moor (FC Dallas), Hunter Freeman (Colorado Rapids), Troy Roberts (Galaxy), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution) and Jack Stewart (Chicago Fire) followed. The seventh defender selected in the first round was Tim Ward from St. Louis University, who went to the MetroStars.
Two teams, the Revolution and the Metros, selected only defenders. The Revs used their three selections on Parkhurst, James Riley (No. 21) and Tony Lochhead (No. 33), while the Metros' only two selections were used on Ward and Chris Corcoran (No. 25), though Corcoran played midfield for a large part of his college career at St. John's University.
Even though the top two picks aren't defenders by classification, defense is their trade. Expansion club Real Salt Lake made U.S. youth national team standout defensive midfielder Nikolas Besagno the top pick, and the league's other expansion team, Club Deportivo Chivas USA, followed RSL by selecting University of South Carolina goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
In addition to the fact that they are the first ever SuperDraft picks by RSL and CD Chivas USA, both Besagno and Guzan made a bit more history Friday. Besagno, 16, is the second youngest player to be chosen in an MLS draft, after D.C. united made Freddy Adu last year's top pick, and Guzan is the highest drafted goalkeeper in MLS history.
Generation adidas players were also popular in this year's draft, just as Nike Project-40 players were popular in previous years. The first three picks in the draft -- Besagno, Guzan and UCLA's Chad Barrett, who was selected by the Fire -- are all signed to Generation adidas, and seven total first rounders are part of the player development program. Eleven of the 12 Generation adidas players available in the draft were selected in the first 18 picks. The first non-Generation adidas player selected was Indiana University senior Danny O'Rourke, who won the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy in 2004 as the best NCAA Division I soccer player and he was selected by the Earthquakes with the fourth pick.
After picking Guzan, CD Chivas USA stuck with its roots, selecting three players of Mexican descent from the state of California. Midfielders Christian Jimenez (No. 14) and Aaron Lopez (No. 26) and defender Esteban Arias (No. 38), will all wear the red and white of CD Chivas USA in 2005.
While the mood at the draft was mostly light, there was a pause between rounds one and two to honor the memory of former Columbus Crew coach Tom Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was killed in a motorcycle accident in early December. MLS Commissioner Don Garber cited Fitgerald's contribution to the league and introduced a video montage of the coach. In February, RSL and the Crew will play the first annual Fitzgerald memorial match in Tampa, Fla.
There were a bevy of trades made both before and during the draft. The San Jose Earthquakes made the biggest splash of all, trading midfielders Richard Mulrooney and Arturo Alvarez along with the 6th and 29th overall selections to FC Dallas in exchange for midfielder Brad Davis, an allocation and the 4th overall pick in this year's draft. The Quakes also got midfielder Ricardo Clark from the MetroStars in exchange for a portion of the allocation they received from Landon Donovan's departure and a youth international slot.
FC Dallas wasn't done dealing after their trade with the Quakes, sending the 12th overall selection to the MetroStars in exchange for a player to be named later. Dallas also dealt the 29th pick they picked up from San Jose to the Chicago Fire in exchange for the rights to goalkeeper Henry Ring.
The Los Angeles Galaxy were active Friday, as well, sending Sasha Victorine to the Kansas City Wizards and getting the 15th selection in the draft in return. The Galaxy also got an allocation from RSL in exchange for the No. 22 overall selection in the 2005 draft.
The New England Revolution got in the act by trading the 45th overall selection and a player to be named later to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for the 33rd selection in Friday's draft.
Thursday night, the Rapids sent the 16th overall pick to the Kansas City Wizards in exchange for the 33rd and 36th overall picks. The Rapids then handed the 36th pick to the Chicago Fire to complete the trade that sent Rey Angel Martinez to Colorado last summer.
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.