On Friday, all 22 MLS teams will be scouring the draft eligibles list in hopes of finding a player that can help their team.
We’ve already reviewed some of the late round gems that teams have been able to snatch up in the SuperDraft over the years, but today we'll be looking at another category: MLSsoccer.com's Top 5 SuperDraft Steals.
These players were not any anybody’s radar in the top 10, but were not complete shocks when they were taken within the top three rounds.
Again, we’re going with the same rules we had in the last exercise, attempting to stick to players who had an immense impact on the team that drafted them.
Steve Ralston | Tampa Bay Mutiny
1996 College Draft
Round 2, Pick 8
No. 18 overall
Ralston spent eight incredible seasons with the New England Revolution from 2002-09, but those years were proceeded by six outstanding seasons with the Tampa Bay Mutiny.
The Mutiny grabbed Ralston in the second round (18th pick) of the inaugural MLS College Draft and he went on to team with Carlos Valderrama and Roy Lassiter to form the most formidable attacking trio in the nascent league. The three led the Mutiny to the a league-high 58 points in 1996, behind a league-leading 66 goals, and Ralston was named the Rookie of the Year.
Ralston eventually earned two Best XI selections (1999, 2000) during his time with the Mutiny, collecting an incredible 34 goals and 62 assists in the six seasons before Tampa Bay were contracted after the 2001 season. He finished his career with 135 assists, most in MLS history before Landon Donovan broke his record in his final season.
Shalrie Joseph | New England Revolution
Round 2, Pick 2
No. 14 overall
Ralston’s longtime teammate in New England also started his career as a second-round draft pick. After spending the 2002 season away from the club, Joseph joined the Revolution in 2003 and developed into the enforcer for a Revolution team that went to three MLS Cup finals (2005-07).
The Grenada international spent 10 seasons in New England, racking up 261 appearances, 40 goals and 35 assists for the Revolution. Joseph is the career leader in games played, games started and minutes played for the Revolution.
Joseph earned four MLS Best XI selections (2005, 2007-09) during his time in New England and was named captain of the club in 2010.
Jozy Altidore | New York Red Bulls
Round 2, Pick 5
No. 17 overall
Now you could reason this is an odd selection, given that Altidore made just 37 appearances for the Red Bulls after being drafted in the second round. And you would be right.
While Altidore did not bring much value to the Red Bulls with his performances on the field, he did bring a ton in terms of cold, hard cash – transfer money in particular.
After just three seasons in MLS, Altidore was sold to Spanish side Villarreal for a reported $10 million, by far the highest-ever transfer fee paid for a MLS player, even to this day. That kind of money surely helped the Red Bulls build a team that has been a contender ever since his departure.
AJ DeLaGarza | LA Galaxy
Round 2, Pick 4
No. 19 overall
While his former Maryland – and LA Galaxy – teammate Omar Gonzalez has gotten most of the plaudits throughout their careers, DeLaGarza has been one of the best defenders in MLS since entering the league in 2009.
DeLaGarza was picked No. 19 overall, after Gonzalez and USMNT regular Matt Besler were selected in the first round. Since then, DeLaGarza has appeared in 204 games for the Galaxy, helping them capture three MLS Cups (2011, 2012, 2014) and two Supporters’ Shields (2010, 2011).
DeLaGarza’s versatility has been a key to his success: He has started regularly at every spot in the backline, including the 2011 MLS Cup at center back and the 2014 MLS Cup at right back. DeLaGarza has also become a regular for the Guam national team.
Graham Zusi | Sporting Kansas City
Round 2, Pick 8
No. 23 overall
Zusi joined Sporting the same year as Besler, with the Maryland product picked in the second round of the 2009 SuperDraft, No. 23 overall. His selection, along with Besler’s, has helped turn Sporting Kansas City into a perennial contender for the past seven seasons.
Since 2009, Zusi has appeared in 194 games, scored 26 goals and assisted on 48 other goals. This has helped Kansas City capture the 2013 MLS Cup along with two US Open Cups in 2012 and 2015. He has been named to the MLS Best XI twice (2012-2013) and to the All-Star team four times (2012-2015).
Zusi has become a regular contributor to the US national teams during the past four years, accruing a total of 42 caps. He was one of the 23 players selected for the 2014 World Cup by Jurgen Klinsmann.