INDIANAPOLIS — After a busy Thursday at the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, here are the top stories heading into the weekend as a new season creeps ever closer.
11) Who “won” the SuperDraft, and will it matter this season?
As the Armchair Analyst acknowledged in his draft-day grades, it takes several seasons to really know made the best choices here in Indy. Early evaluations would suggest that Toronto FC perhaps worked the system most effectively, acquiring two sought-after local talents as well as a raft of allocation money. Will the results show in the campaign ahead, though?
WATCH: Exclusive sneak peak of "Inside the SuperDraft"
10) But was anyone luckier than Sporting KC and Houston?
Established playoff powerhouses are not supposed to have Generation adidas kids drop into their laps in the latter stages of the first round. Yet that’s exactly what happened with Mikey Lopez and Jason Johnson as teams passed on them -- and unwittingly boosted two of the Eastern Conference’s elite.
9) What's the next step for El Chelís?
Chivas USA's bold new boss said he was going to take Carlos Alvarez with the second overall pick, and he did it. Not a bad start. Then again, rumors would have it that he's also shopping his team's sterling netminder Dan Kennedy. Are the Goats really going all-Mexican-American right away, or will their identity makeover be a more gradual process?
8) Will Andrew Farrell become the next Omar Gonzalez?
Few guessed that LA’s first-round pick four years ago would grow into a pivotal anchor in a championship-winning (can we call it a dynasty yet?) squad so quickly. It’s not really fair to saddle Farrell with those kind of expectations, but there are those around the league who don’t think the comparison is too far off. Now about that supporting cast....
7) What’s Robert Warzycha gotten himself into?
The Crew’s stern boss is known to demand a great deal from young players, and his club’s flurry of Homegrown signings means he’ll have plenty on his hands as he looks to lead Columbus back to the postseason in ‘13. He also tends to run a tight ship discipline-wise, yet he gambled his first-round pick on Ryan Finley, this rookie crop’s most prominent maverick.
WATCH: Zardes says he'll "blow your mind"
6) Can Gyasi Zardes back up his big draft-day talk?
The Galaxy’s blue-chip Homegrown signing made an appearance at the Indiana Convention Center even though he was already in the defending champs’ camp, raising a few eyebrows with the proclamation that he would’ve been the No. 1 SuperDraft pick (he’s probably right) and that “my skill is going to blow your mind” (possibly, but less certain). He’ll get a chance to walk the walk when LA open preseason camp later this month.
5) Can the Georgetown trio keep it going at the next level?
Coach Brian Wiese’s Hoyas surprised NCAA soccer’s old guard by racing to the College Cup final with a flowing, attack-minded style last fall, helping draw MLS attention to the quality of seniors Tommy Muller, Ian Christianson and Jimmy Nealis. Now they’ll try to prove that they’re pro material with San Jose, New York and Houston, respectively, while Wiese does his best to replace them back in Northwest D.C.
4) Vancouver can’t possibly get any faster ... can they?
The Whitecaps already possess one of MLS’ true burners in Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks, and on Thursday they added two more jets to the fleet with first-rounders Kekuta Manneh and the powerful Erik Hurtado. Coach Martin Rennie said he sees Manneh as a longer-term project, while Hurtado might be able to contribute right away. In any case, his picks give Rennie a dazzling array of options up front.
3) Who will turn out to be the top left back from this southpaw-heavy crop?
Manning the left side of defense can be one of a coach’s trickiest tasks. This SuperDraft presented clubs with a range of potential answers to that old conundrum, from Taylor Kemp to Kory Kindle to Nealis and perhaps Greg Cochrane as well.
2) Is the Cascadia Cup trademark kerfuffle a misstep by the league, or a storm in a coffee cup?
The folks up in the Pacific Northwest take their soccer seriously, and their traditions as well, as they made clear with a wave of anger about MLS’ move to protect the rights to their regional rivalry’s name and imagery. Commissioner Don Garber explained the league’s intentions at the SuperDraft, but the prickly reactions of Cascadia fans suggests that some are holding a bit of a grudge.
1) Are more underperforming big names headed out the MLS door?
Word out of Portland is that Designated Player Kris Boyd is on the outs with the Timbers. D.C. United have made it clear that their DP striker Hamdi Salihi isn't in their 2013 picture. Seattle and Philly both moved regular starters out. And now there are rumblings that FC Dallas may be on the verge of allowing Brek Shea, who struggled with injuries in 2012, to transfer to Stoke City. So how will these clubs replace these players and address their needs? The international transfer window is open only a few more weeks.