Picks of the litter: Club-by-club listing of the best-ever draft picks in MLS history

Taylor Twellman - 2002 SuperDraft

Look at the history of your team. Who are your club legends?

Names like Landon Donovan, Jaime Moreno or Kyle Beckerman probably come to mind. One thing you will notice about those three players, and many others, is that those players came from some other team before they arrived at the clubs where they became household names.

But there are a few that were drafted by a club and went on to become a superstar for that same team.

Below you can find the best draft picks by each club over the course of their history in MLS. As with our other SuperDraft history articles, we are only looking at players who had a massive impact with the clubs that drafted them.

Chicago Fire – C.J. Brown

As was highlighted in our late-round gems article, Brown was selected by the Fire in the Supplemental Draft before their inaugural season. He ended up spending 13 seasons with the club, helping them take home a MLS Cup (1998), four US Open Cups (1998, 2000, 2003, 2006) and a Supporters’ Shield (2003).

Colorado Rapids – Omar Cummings

Despite their long history, the Rapids haven’t had too much success in the SuperDraft. The best draft picks comes back in 2007 when they selected Cummings in the third round. In six seasons with the club, the Jamaican international scored 39 goals and collected 27 assists. His best season came in 2010, when he scored 14 goals and helped the Rapids take home MLS Cup.

Columbus Crew SC – Chad Marshall

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Drafted second overall, Marshall was an instant starter for Crew SC. He spent 10 seasons with the club, making 253 appearances and helping lead Columbus to the 2008 MLS Cup and three Supporters’ Shields (2004, 2008, 2009). Marshall also won Defender of the Year in 2008 and 2009.

D.C. United – Eddie Pope

The second pick in the inaugural MLS College Draft, Pope went on to become one of the best defenders in MLS history. He spent seven seasons with D.C., winning three MLS Cups (1996, 1997, 1999) and a Defender of the Year award (1997). He was named to two MLS Best XIs while with United (1997, 1998).

FC Dallas – Matt Hedges

This one came down to a few players, including club legend Bobby Rhine, Brek Shea and Zach Loyd, but Hedges was the choice after five outstanding seasons with the club. Hedges has appeared in 124 games in his four seasons in Dallas and has led the team to two straight playoff appearances. He was named to the 2015 Best XI.

Houston Dynamo – Geoff Cameron

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A third-round pick in 2008, Cameron came on board with a team that had just won two straight MLS Cups. He made 23 appearances, mostly as a substitute, before becoming a starter in his second season. He was named to the 2009 Best XI and helped lead the Dynamo to a MLS Cup appearance in 2011 before leaving for Stoke City in the English Premier League in 2012.

LA Galaxy – Omar Gonzalez

It's strange that a team as storied as the Galaxy don’t have many draft picks over the years that became stars for the team. One exception is Gonzalez, who was drafted third overall in 2009. In seven seasons with the club, he made 180 appearances and helped the team win three MLS Cups (2011, 2012, 2014). On an individual level he won Rookie of the Year (2009), Defender of the Year (2011) and was named to the MLS Best XI four times (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014). He left the Galaxy for Liga MX and Pachuca after the 2014 campaign.

Montreal Impact – Calum Mallace

With just five drafts under their belt, there weren't too many options with the Impact. One player who stood out was Mallace, who was selected in the second round of the 2012 SuperDraft. After two seasons spent mostly on the sidelines, Mallace emerged as a regular contributor in 2014 and has made 67 league appearances over the past three seasons. He was a major factor in the Impact’s run to the 2015 CONCACAF Champions League final.

New England Revolution – Taylor Twellman

Despite the Revs' long history, and many successful drafts, this pick was easy. Twellman was drafted second overall in the 2002 SuperDraft and immediately became one of the best players in MLS. In seven seasons he scored an incredible 99 goals and helped the Revolution reach four MLS Cups. He won the MVP in 2005 and was named to two Best XIs (2002, 2005). His 101 goals are eighth-most in MLS history and his goals per 90 minutes rate of .60 is No. 1 all-time.

New York City FC – Jack Harrison

Technically, Harrison was picked by Chicago with the No. 1 overall selection of the 2016 draft, but he was immediately traded to NYCFC, the team that had already sought unsuccessfully to place a Homegrown claim on him. The young English winger made an immediate impact when he entered the lineup in early summer, and went on to bag four goals and seven assists in 21 appearances as the Citizens surged into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in their second year of play.

New York Red Bulls – Jozy Altidore

We went over this in our SuperDraft steals article, but a big reason for this pick is because of the $10 million transfer fee that Spanish powerhouse Villarreal paid the Red Bulls to acquire Altidore. That kind of money is hard to come by in MLS, and is hard to overlook. (Sorry, Mike Petke).

Orlando City SC – Cyle Larin

The 2015 expansion side hit their first pick out of the park with Larin. He scored the most goals ever by a rookie (17), easily taking home Rookie of the Year honors and becoming a key member of the Canadian national team.

Philadelphia Union – Amobi Okugo

The Union have a very hit-or-miss history in their six years when it comes to the SuperDraft, but one hit was definitely Okugo. In five seasons with the Union, Okugo made 117 appearances at the defensive midfield and center back positions.

Portland Timbers – Darlington Nagbe

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The first draft pick by the Timbers after they joined MLS, Nagbe went No. 2 overall in the 2011 SuperDraft. Since then he has become one of the top players in MLS, making 187 appearances, collecting 24 goals and 25 assists plus a goal and two assists in postseason play. He was the driving force in the Timbers’ run to the 2015 MLS Cup title.

Real Salt Lake – Tony Beltran

Players like Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Javier Morales and Nat Borchers helped RSL become a perennial contender for much of their existence in MLS. But none of those players came through the draft. One player that did is Beltran, who was selected third overall in 2008. Since then he has appeared in 224 games (plus 13 postseason appearances), helping RSL reach the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons.

San Jose Earthquakes – Chris Wondolowski

This one is a bit of a cheat, as it was in the late-round gems article. But since he was drafted by the Quakes and was only forced to leave when the team moved, this has to be the selection. Wondolowski has scored 117 goals for the Quakes since 2009 and his 121 total goals are the fourth-most all-time. He led San Jose to the 2012 Supporters’ Shield, a year in which he tied the MLS record for most goals in a season with 27.

Seattle Sounders – Steve Zakuani

The Sounders have mostly built their team through other player acquisition mechanisms, but their first pick was a good one. Zakuani was on his way to becoming a star in MLS before a gruesome injury left him unable to continue his rise to stardom.

Sporting Kansas City – Matt Besler

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This one we left up to the fans, and with 678 votes, there was a clear winner.

Besler was selected in the first round of the 2009 SuperDraft and has helped lead their resurgence to the elite of MLS. In his time with Sporting he has captured the MLS Cup (2013) and two US Open Cups (2012, 2015). Prior to the 2014 season he was named captain.

Toronto FC – Maurice Edu

TFC fans have seen plenty of disappointing draft picks over the past decade, but one bright spot was their first MLS selection in Edu. He was named Rookie of the Year in 2007 before Toronto collected a hefty transfer fee for the California native in the middle of 2008. He's since returned to MLS as a member of the Philadelphia Union.

Vancouver Whitecaps – Kekuta Manneh

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In four seasons in MLS, Manneh has become one of the league's most exciting players to watch. The Gambian was selected fourth overall in the 2013 SuperDraft and has notched 22 goals and 12 assists in his four seasons with the club. He is a prominent member of MLSsoccer.com's 24 Under 24 lists and just earned a call-up to the US national team's January camp despite the fact that his FIFA eligibility is still in process.