MLSsoccer.com continues its team-by-team lookahead at the 2013 SuperDraft and the players that will most likely be on each club’s radar. Up next: the Chicago Fire.
With a single pick in the 2013 SuperDraft falling at No. 11, Frank Klopas and the Chicago Fire are faced with an interesting dilemma: Take the best player available at the pick, regardless of position — there should still be one or two potential impact players in MLS — or select a defender there to add some much needed depth?
The fact that their lone pick falls at No. 11 could make it valuable trade bait, or the Fire could very well opt to scoop up one of the highly touted seniors or Generation adidas players who could slip down to No. 11. After all, Chicago have some flexibility with their international slots to select Generation adidas players like Deshorn Brown (Jamaica), Kekuta Manneh (Gambia) or Jason Johnson (Jamaica).
Chicago Fire SuperDraft Picks: #11 (1st Rd)
Chicago Fire Depth Chart (24 players):
Goalkeepers (2): Sean Johnson, Paolo Tornaghi
Right Backs (2): Jalil Anibaba, Steven Kinney
Center Backs (2): Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry
Left Backs (2): Gonzalo Segares, Hunter Jumper
Right Mids (1): Patrick Nyarko
Central Mids (6): Daniel Paladini, Pável Pardo, Logan Pause, Wells Thompson, Michael Videira, Tony Walls
Left Mids (2): Álvaro Fernández, Joel Lindpere
Attacking Mids (3): Chris Rolfe, Alex, Victor Pineda
Forwards (4): Maicon Santos, Sherjill MacDonald, Orr Barouch, Dominic Oduro
International slots (3 of 7 remaining): Tornaghi, Friedrich, Pardo, Fernández
Chicago Fire SuperDraft Priorities:
Here's what Chicago should do, in order of importance, should they choose to keep the No. 11 overall draft choice. It's worth noting that FC Dallas defender Matt Hedges (2012) and Houston's Will Bruin (2011) were taken at No. 11 in the last two years.
Who can step in on defense?: Should anything happen to the starting center back duo of Friedrich-Berry, the Fire look to be in trouble. Who is ready to step in? Sure, Anibaba can slide into the central defender role, but it might be preferable to trade that No. 11 pick for a sure-fire MLS backup who is ready to start in a pinch. It’s not every SuperDraft you’re going to stumble on another Austin Berry, but Frank Klopas might roll his beads and give it another go.
Wish List (Central defenders): Tommy Muller (Georgetown), Dylan Tucker-Gangnes (Washington), Eric Schoenle (West Virginia)
Replacing Patrick Nyarko: The Ghanaian’s elusive style has attracted a fair share of brutal tackles and the Fire are lucky that Nyarko has grinded through the knocks during the course of past seasons. But the team has no real cover should he need a prolonged break. Thompson can serve as an emergency fill-in at right mid, but the drop-off in attacking quality would be felt.
Wish List (Attacking wingers): Blake Smith (New Mexico), Erik Hurtado (Santa Clara), Emory Welshman (Oregon State), Donnie Smith (UNC Charlotte)
Next big forward: Aside from MacDonald, who also had his issues converting even the best chances at the end of 2012, the likes of Maicon Santos, Barouch and Oduro do not strike fear into the opposition for their goalscoring feats.
That’s where the "best talent available" question comes up. If a goalscorer is available at No. 11, and one very well might be, do you take him ahead of a centerback or a Nyarko fill-in?
Wish List (Goalscorers): Ryan Finley (Notre Dame), Kekuta Manneh (Gambia), Jason Johnson (Virginia Commonwealth), DeShorn Brown (Central Florida)