Armchair Analyst: Asset collection and the lure of youth in Chivas USA Dispersal Draft

The best player available went No. 1 overall in the Chivas USA Dispersal Draft. Yeah, FC Dallas already have Raul Fernandez and Chris Seitz under contract, and both have proved to be starting-caliber goalkeepers in this league.

An asset's an asset, though, and Dan Kennedy was the best asset available in Wednesday afternoon's draft. He doesn't fill an immediate need - not unless one of the aforementioned guys is on his way out and Kennedy's happy being a backup, or unless Dallas are planning to take on Philly in the first XI-vs-XI Goalkeeper Showdown.

But for a team that maybe intends to wheel and deal, "immediate" probably isn't all that big of an issue. Fernando Clavijo and Oscar Pareja have three-and-a-half months to get their house in order, which gives them plenty of time to try to squeeze something they do value out of somebody else in exchange for one of their netminders. Or it gives Kennedy time to win the starting job outright and finally provide an answer to the biggest question of 2011: "How good would Dan Kennedy be if he had a playoff-caliber team playing in front of him?"

His numbers - largely save percentage, which doesn't mean a whole lot - have tanked since then, but he's still highly regarded in MLS circles and still capable of stuff like this:

Beyond Kennedy the choices were purely youth-oriented. Matt Dunn initially looked out of his depth in MLS, but eventually settled into a key role for the Goats down the stretch largely as a box-to-box central midfielder. Could he reprise that role for NYCFC under Jason Kreis? It depends upon what formation Kreis picks (I'm guessing 4-3-3) and how he wants Frank Lampard to play.

That said, there are "Ned Grabavoy" elements to Dunn's game. There's a chance he could end up as a shuttler - one of the wider midfielders - if Kreis decides to build a diamond in the Bronx. "Holding onto the ball" is a skill, and one that Dunn has.

Thomas McNamara, who went fourth overall to D.C. United, should help in that team's migration to either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3. He's not a game-controlling No. 10; he lacks the pace to be an out-and-out winger; and he's not a predatory goalscorer who can pick up enough goals to start as a pure forward. He's just a smart player who can give valuable minutes at each of those spots, allowing himself to be a force magnifier for the creativity of others. 

This sums up the Donny Toia pick;

I will never bash a team for taking a flier on a young, athletic left back. Toia's got a lot to learn about the position - 2014 was his first year there - but given Montreal's USL PRO investment, he'll have 30 or so games to learn it in 2015. If he takes to it quick enough, some of those outings will be in MLS.

Caleb Calvert to the Rapids and Kris Tyrpak to San Jose were pure "Youth and Potential" picks. Calvert, 18, is a pure target player who's yet to get any MLS minutes but has had people buzzing for years, since he was the USSDA Player of the Year. I don't think he's a contributor in 2015, but with another 12 months of seasoning in USL PRO, he could be part of the answer up top for this young Colorado group come 2016.

Tyrpak is a few years older than Calvert and had that one moment in 2014 when he turned into Messi:

Can he do it on a consistent basis? Well, no - he can't do that on a consistent basis. But he looked like a technical, inventive young attacker for a team that badly needed exactly that for much of this season. And it's worth noting that new Quakes head coach Dom Kinnear is very familiar with Tyrpak, who went to school at Houston Baptist and spent his share of time at Dynamo training.

Tyrpak was the USL PDL player of the year in 2013 with the Austin Aztex, by the way. He's done good stuff against good competition before.

So has Marco Delgado, the last player picked in this draft. He'll go to Toronto FC, a team that has been short on technical midfielders in the past. Delgado should help in that regard, unless TFC decide they're actually short on technical fullbacks and groom him for that spot instead. The 19-year-old has split time between the roles in his 37 MLS games, and it's not yet clear where his on-field future is.


The two guys who weren't picked that intrigued me most were Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Nigel Reo-Coker.

Let's start with Reo-Coker first. He's a divisive figure in England because he's, frankly, too talented to have fallen this far. One of the most thrilling sights in MLS is watching him get the ball on his foot at central midfield, kick it into a higher gear, and plain burst through two lines of defense because almost nobody can come close to him. And then the ones who do come close just bounce off of him, because NRC is built like a bowling ball and runs like the field is tilted downhill.

It's not silky smooth like when, say, Darlington Nagbe just blows people up. It doesn't have to be, though, because Reo-Coker's been one of the more efficient dribblers in the league (as per Opta), and a pretty good passer as well. You can't count on his positional discipline to play as a No. 6, but if you need a No. 8 who can cover tons of ground, change the shape of a game and play a million good passes... well, I kind of expected Chicago or LA to draft him. Maybe even OCSC.

Reo-Coker not going was a "surpise," but Jean-Baptiste being without a team at this point is a shocker. In 2013, at age 20, he started 22 games in central defense for Portland - a team that was, by the numbers, the best defensive side in the league. He found his way into the 24 Under 24 rankings and looked the part of a high-level contributor in the league for a long, long time.

Then he lost his starting spot, was traded to Chivas, never won a regular role there, and is now out of a job. All while still on a rookie contract.

What's this mean? Too early to tell, exactly. But bear this in mind: Robbie Rogers and Gonzalo Pineda were, at various points in the last 18 months, retired from soccer (or just about). Most of the RBNY starting lineup has been on the scrap heap in the not-too-distant past. And Lee Nguyen, who was straight-up cut in 2012, is now - at worst - third in the 2014 MVP race.

Redemption songs will ring out across the playoffs this weekend. Reo-Coker and Jean-Baptiste have plenty of time to find their own in 2015.

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