Armchair Analyst: Winners, losers from 2013 SuperDraft

INDIANAPOLIS — Grading the SuperDraft is an exercise in futility until about three years down the road. That won’t stop me, however, from putting this one up for posterity.

Instead of assigning letter grades, we’re going by tier.

Better Today Than They Were Yesterday

Toronto FC – So, let’s see here … their big rivals said they wanted to get “more Canadian,” yet it was TFC who got the two best Canucks in the draft. Both of whom are from greater Toronto, and both of whom fit needs. Emery Welshman at No. 16 was straight thievery.
In the process they traded down (twice), doubling their allocation money along the way. Say what you want about Kevin Payne, but the man knows how the game is played.

Colorado Rapids – Started the day by signing a Chilean international winger, finished it by getting direct replacements for Omar Cummings (Deshorn Brown) and Jeff Larentowicz (Dillon Powers) as well as the left back with the highest ceiling in the draft (Kory Kindle). They are in much, much better shape to play Oscar Pareja’s 4-3-3 now.

Seattle Sounders – Pounced when Eriq Zavaleta fell a few spots further than expected, and now they have their Jeff Parke replacement without using any cap room thanks to the Generation adidas tag. Got solid young depth at left back (always nice) with Dylan Remick in the second round.

Pretty Much Went According To Plan

Vancouver Whitecaps – Martin Rennie wants speed up top, guys who can run with Darren Mattocks. That’s the exact skillset Kekuta Manneh and Erik Hurtado bring to the attack. Both guys are wide players, and both have a blazing first step. Hurtado will compete right away (he’s near the top of my potential rookie of the year list), and Manneh is one to develop for 2014 and beyond.

Sporting KCMikey Lopez fell into their laps at 14. You could argue that other central midfielders are more MLS-ready, but Lopez is the best pure fit. He’s perfectly at home in a shifting 4-3-3, which is exactly how he’ll be used in KC.

Portland Timbers – Was this my favorite pick of the draft? Yes, yes it was. First of all, I like Dylan Tucker-Gangnes a lot, and could argue that he’s the most MLS-ready of the center backs on offer, so just on a nuts-and-bolts level, it was the right pick. As important, though, is that Portland took a kid who is Seattle born-and-bred, and University of Washington star, one pick before the Sounders were up. Seattle fans flipped their collective bean in the live chat, on Twitter and elsewhere.

Safe to say the Portland braintrust “gets” the rivalry. (Tucker-Gangnes, by the way, played for Portland's U-23s in the PDL, so it's not a given that the Sounders would have picked him at all. But I still love the way this went down).

Chivas USA – Got the exact guy they wanted in Carlos Alvarez, and more publicity this week than they’ve had in years. Can’t argue with that.

New England Revolution – So much for finding fullback depth via the draft – unless the plan is to convert Donnie Smith, which wouldn’t be a bad idea. Using Andrew Farrell at right back, however, would be. Also picked up a versatile No. 9 in Luke Spencer, and the ‘keeper with the highest upside in Luis Soffner. They didn’t go about their day the way I’d have done it, but it’s hard to knock coming away with four guys who are physically ready to compete in the league.

Real Salt Lake – I didn’t see John Stertzer at No. 12 as a “need” pick, but he’s a solid possession player with versatility and athleticism. Devon Sandoval is a home run at No. 29. He’s a first round talent whose back-to-goal ability will give RSL options when the possession game just isn’t clicking.

D.C. United – Came into the day needing fullback depth first and foremost. Got a guy with MLS skills at left back (hardest spot on the field to fill) in Taylor Kemp, who played right down the road at Maryland. Simplicity wins.

New York Red Bulls – RBNY have a habit of making good on second round picks, and that could very well happen with Ian Christianson. He has MLS agility, reads the game and combines like a pro, and switches the field of play with that cultured left foot like an all-star. If things go right, he could be the perfect central midfield partner for Dax McCarty.

I Mean, I Guess That Makes Sense

San Jose Earthquakes – Got a rock-solid central defender (Tommy Muller, who’ll take the now-departed Ike Opara’s minutes) with their first round pick, but passed on a couple of other defensive options to add Dan Delgado in the second round. Delgado looks very much like a man with no position in the Quakes’ set-up.

Columbus Crew – Ok, I don’t really understand their strategy here. First-round pick Ryan Finley fills a void – he scores goals, and the Crew need those – but they reached for a hybrid center back/right back (Drew Beckie) in the second, a guy who didn’t look good enough at either spot. Hey guys … you need fullback depth, and there were a million of them on the board. So confused.

Chicago Fire – They’ve now added three central midfielders (Larentowicz, Joel Lindpere and Rich Balchan), which was not a trouble spot for them at all over the past two years. Their trouble was scoring goals, especially when Chris Rolfe goes cold. I’m not certain they’re any closer to a title today despite the fact that Larentowicz for the No. 11 pick is, on the face of it, a very good trade. Yazid Atouba Emane will have his work cut out to make the final roster.

Houston Dynamo – On the face of it … I mean, a Generation adidas forward (Jason Johnson), and a first-round talent left back with the No. 37 pick (Jimmmy Nealis). I love that Nealis pick, but Johnson will struggle to find minutes behind Will Bruin and Cummings.

LA Galaxy – This is the awesome part of the column when I criticize Dominic Kinnear and Bruce Arena back-to-back. Charlie Rugg was, simply put, a reach at 19. I think he’ll be a pro, but there were other “need” guys on the board there. Same with Kofi Opare at 24. I do love the Greg Cochrane pick to end the draft, however. Provided he’s used as a left back.

Montreal Impact – Blake Smith was one of my favorite players in the draft, which is the only thing that keeps them in this tier. They reached two rounds too high with their other first round pick (Fernando Monge), then spent their two second round picks on a pair of guys – Paolo DelPiccolo and Brad Stuver – who will be stretched to make the final roster.

Wait ... What?

FC Dallas – Walker Zimmerman was listed as a potential No. 1 pick, so you’d think FCD would rate. But they don’t, because he’ll be No. 4 on the depth chart at the one position in which they’re solid. Passing on Smith was bizarre, because they have only two wingers (Jackson and Fabián Castillo) on the roster. With their second pick they took Ryan Hollingshead, who told he’ll be away from the game for at least six months while helping build his brother’s church.

Philadelphia Union – They need help at left back and central defense, and got neither. John Hackworth says there’s help on the way, but why pass on tailor-made reinforcements for two guys (Stephen Okai, Don Anding) who don’t answer any of the questions currently posed by the roster