Orlando City had a very, very different plan of attack for their Expansion Draft than did NYCFC. While the noisy neighbors in the Bronx aimed for "steady vet with years left" or "high-upside youngster making peanuts," staying domestic with every pick, OCSC took a more haphazard approach, targeting guys who didn't fit any particular scheme.
And targeting forwards. For some reason, a team that's expected to play a 4-3-3, or maybe a 4-4-1-1, got themselves three guys who can only really play up top.
Let's start there:
Will these guys all be in purple come March? Or even come tomorrow morning? I honestly and truly doubt it.
OCSC are expected to play a formation with only one true forward, relying on Kaka - a goal-scoring No. 10 - to be the main goal-getter, a scenario that makes at least one of the above guys redundant. In all likelihood that will be Mwanga, the 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick who scored 7 goals in his first year and played six games in his fifth. He's on the Freddy Adu Career Plan, and it's hard to say he's looked like an MLS-caliber player at any point since about mid-2012.
Why that is, I'm not exactly sure. Maybe OCSC know something we don't.
I'm almost as confused by the Arrieta pick, since he'll turn 32 next year, has clearly lost a step, and has 8 goals in his last 51 games despite playing the bulk of those minutes in front of Federico Higuain, one of the league's best creators.
Thus it's Pedro Ribeiro, who was also a rookie and also had some nice moments in 2014, who looks like the best bet of the bunch - at least from this vantage point. He's huge and has good feet, but he's still learning to play as a No. 9 and he does, in fact, take up an international roster slot.
Happy Homecoming: M Lewis Neal
Neal does a little bit of everything in central midfield, and most of it pretty well. He won't start many games, and he'll be 34 come July, but this is a smart locker room/cultural pick. Neal is beloved of OCSC fans after spending the 2011 season there and helping the franchise get started. That's worth a spot in and of itself, isn't it?
Plus he and current OCSC defender Luke Boden have some weird Gollum/Frodo thing happening, which I'm all for:
Yesssssssssss my Baggins is backkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk— Luke Boden (@Bodz1988) December 10, 2014
The Starter: D Heath Pearce
I said on this week's March to the Match that OCSC have to be smart about how to pair new acquisition Aurelien Collin in central defense. They'll need somebody smart, whose instincts are more about the play than the ball; somebody who can cover ground; somebody who can distribute.
Pearce checks two of those three boxes. He's definitely lost a step over the last five or six years, and that can be worrisome as certain Eastern Conference teams - hello, New England - simply love to get into the open field and run.
But "smart" is always a good thing on the soccer field. Pearce's brain is fast enough to make him a starter.
I'm hearing this is just a pit stop for these guys, who didn't even get to see Epcot Center. Anibaba's off to Kansas City, Gehrig to Chicago and Sherrod to San Jose.
The Talent: W Tony Cascio
Like Sherrod, he's coming off a torn ACL. Like Sherrod, he has bags of talent:
That first touch is ridiculous, and the cut-back is very, very good. It's also worth noting that happened more than two years ago now. Guess those 2012 game tapes were persuasive.
Wait... what? GK Donovan Ricketts
Why go for Ricketts, who is 37 and clearly on the downslope of his career, when you already have Tally Hall in the fold? Yes, Hall is - stop me if you've heard this before - coming off an ACL injury, and there are questions as to whether or not he'll be able to go by March. But there were good, young 'keepers in this draft available, guys who could have started for a month or two before eventually making way for the former All-Star. And this year's SuperDraft is simply loaded with 'keeper talent as well.
Picking Ricketts means spending a big chunk of cap space to invite a mid-summer 'keeper controversy, which isn't a great look for any team.
One last note... You can tell I didn't much love OCSC's draft. It'll just point out, though, that they had much more flexibility with their picks since they weren't building a team from scratch. OCSC already have a bunch of MLS-ready players thanks to their years in USL PRO as well as a very smart, very active trade window on Monday.
So take these criticisms with a grain of salt and an understanding of context.