Armchair Analyst: Late-round SuperDraft treasure trove? Not likely
Let's get this out of the way first: The one guy available in Rounds 3 & 4 of the now-complete SuperDraft who I thought could walk into the league and be a difference-maker (on the Adam Jahn level, not the Geoff Cameron level) was Romena Bowie of VCU.
He's a big, strong, fairly skilled box-to-box midfielder who was great in college and good at the Combine. I had him going No. 12 in my mock draft, SoccerByIves.net had him going No. 31, and many, many soccer people I talked to over the past two weeks saw him as a fringe first-round talent.
He wasn't picked at all.
It could have been anything from age to international status to attitude to an unknown injury. Or maybe he's just not as good as I (and others) thought.
Regardless, I'm going to go ahead and assume that the folks at Orlando City are already on the phone with him.
Same goes for Wojciech Wojcik, the big target striker from Bradley who brings down and controls everything he touches, and who actually tied for the NCAA lead with 14 assists in 2013 (the fact that Wojcik wasn't picked might be a little more explicable, given that he said he has options in Poland if MLS doesn't work out. YMMV).
He's not quite as mobile as Alan Gordon, but he's close, and he has an MLS-ready skill that has kept Gordon in the league for a decade: The ability to connect dangerous passes in the final third.
Both Bowie and Wojcik could play their way up the pyramid and into MLS. But likely not in 2014.
And that's the thing to remember about the crop of talent that was picked today: They're longshots. From last year's Round 3 & 4 haul (which actually came in Rounds 1 & 2 of the Supplemental Draft, which is now extinct but is, for all intents and purposes, the same thing), only Jahn made a significant impact. New York's Michael Bustamante and Houston's Anthony Arena made lesser ones, while a few other players -- Will Bates for Seattle, Christian Duke for Sporting KC -- made rosters, but didn't feature at all.
It's similarly sparse for the 2012 class, with Andy Rose probably that group's headliner. Though that could -- maybe would -- be different if Kirk Urso hadn't been ripped from us so suddenly and tragically two summers ago.
You really have to go all the way back to the 2011 SuperDraft to find a "star" taken outside of the first two rounds. In that case it was Joao Plata, who went 49th to Toronto FC, and those are air quotes around the word "star."
This is all by way of saying that MLS teams have gotten pretty good at this draft thing. Talent doesn't slip like it used to, when Cameron went 42nd back in 2008, or when Jeff Parke went 60th a decade ago.
So, very quickly, I'm going to give you the four guys from Rounds 3 & 4 who I think will make rosters and contribute in some way. And if I go 2-for-4 or better, I will crack open a beer in celebration sometime in November:
Peter Schmetz, Sporting KC -- His bio is a little bit terrifying, full of stuff like "not quick enough" and "he was injured a lot."
But he'll make the Sporting roster, and actually play a little bit because he's smart, and he'll fill a need. Peter Vermes has only three true central defender on his roster (Lawrence Olum really is more of a pure d-mid), which accounts for the second part. For the first part it's important to understand that while fitness and athleticism are important for any team that plays high pressure, the first necessary component is a high-level understanding of the game. That's Schmetz's trump card.
Also worth noting that Sporting still have a number of unused international slots, and look unlikely to make any splash signings this offseason. So Schmetz won't get caught up in the same type of numbers game facing most int'l draftees.
Most likely to see him in: US Open Cup, late-game lead protection when the 18-yard-box is under aerial assault
Kingsley "Fifi" Baiden, Columbus -- Our MLS on Campus guru Nate Sulat called Baiden "the Ghanaian Dax McCarty" a while back, and while that's over-exuberant -- he will never approach McCarty's ability to connect passes through the center of the park -- he's got something close to the defensive range and relentlessness of the Red Bulls star. He is a true destroyer.
Why does that work for Columbus? Mainly because Wil Trapp, who will be a starter once again in 2014 and an All-Star within the next three years, might be best-served by, at times, playing next to a destroyer rather than one of the surfeit of box-to-box midfielders currently at Gregg Berhalter's disposal.
Is Baiden more talented than the likes of Daniel Paladini, Tony Tchani or Bernardo Añor? Not likely. But he might be a better fit next to Trapp, and Trapp is the guy who the Crew will build their midfield around for the next half-decade.
Most likely to see him in: Late-game on the road when the Crew switch to a defense-minded 4-2-3-1
Richie Marquez, Philadelphia -- This is both a fit and an upside pick for the Union, who are short of central defenders and made the smart play of bringing in a guy who jumped from Division III NCAA soccer to the MLS Combine and didn't put a foot wrong.
Marquez looks the part physically, standing 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 180 pounds, making him the biggest of the four center backs on the Union roster. He also showed a fair bit of polish in his simplicity on the ball at the Combine, which bodes well as he prepares to jump yet another several levels.
Most likely to see him in: US Open Cup, game-day 18s
Kadeem Dacres, Chicago -- Dacres struggled stringing passes together at the Combine, but he routinely eviscerated defenders with the ball on his foot. His one-vs-one ability out wide -- and then his ability to put in a decent cross with either foot -- seems like a natural fit for the Fire, given the way Frank Yallop's teams played in San Jose.
Can he be Marvin Chávez? Probably not. But all of Yallop's current wide players are the type who like to get inside early and combine through the middle, rather than stay wide, beat a defender and pick out a cross. Chicago were actually mid-table in both number of open-play crosses and crossing accuracy, so if Dacres shows he's a solution on one side or the other, he will stick.
Most likely to see him in: 2015