BALTIMORE - JANUARY 13: Fourth selection Zarek Valentin of Chivas USA poses for a photo with coaches and front office staff during the 2011 MLS SuperDraft on January 13 2011 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore Maryland. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)
With the MLS Combine and SuperDraft less than two weeks away, Chivas USA find themselves in an all too familiar position. The team exercised last year’s fourth pick very wisely by selecting defensive standout Zarek Valentin, who immediately made an impact with the team. However, with the changes that have occurred so far in the offseason, including the loss of Valentin in the expansion draft, it seems the team is entering this draft season much like last year’s. Key acquisitions need to be made up top and in back, whether it is for starting positions or depth purposes.
Robin Fraser and his coaching staff have spent most of this offseason bolstering the midfield, much to the confusion of fans. The additions of Ryan Smith and Oswaldo Minda add strength the midfield. However, with the midfield being the second best unit behind Dan Kennedy in goal last season, and the offseason action in the defense and forward positions, one has to question many of the decisions being made. It is quite obvious that with the losses of Zarek Valentin and Andrew Boyens, depth needs to be added to the defense. The acquisition of James Riley in a trade with Montreal for Justin Braun and Gerson Mayen adds veteran experience and strength to the backline, however, at the expense of young talent up front. While Braun was relegated to the bench in favor of Juan Pablo Angel and Alejandro Moreno during the season, the team has lost an extremely talented youngster. Victor Estupinan never lived up to his own hype, and Chris Cortez failed to impress in the little minutes he played.
While the team needs to address these negatives, there are some positives to take from last season. First and foremost, the amazing goalkeeper they have in Kennedy. He cemented his place as the leading keeper at the beginning of the season, and proved time and again throughout his time between the posts just how essential he is to this team. Ruining this would be extremely detrimental to the team.
The other major positive to take away from last season was the impact of Nick LaBrocca. Coming to the Goats in a whirlwind trade just hours before a game he played in, LaBrocca cemented himself as a staple in the midfield. The team’s top goal scorer and primary playmaker was one of two Goats selected for the MLS All-Star team, and rightly so. Going into next season, Chivas USA need to improve on these positives in order to make any gains.
Chivas USA has the following picks in the Superdraft and Supplemental Draft:
Superdraft 1st round: 5
Superdraft 2nd round: 5
Supplemental 1st round: 5
Supplemental 4th round: none (sent pick to LA Galaxy in trade for Juan Pablo Angel)
Keep in mind that anything can happen between now and draft day, especially during the week of the draft. We’ve seen many trades occur during the days leading up to the draft after coaches have had a full look at the players available during the Combine. Additionally, we’ve seen many draft day trades, so anything can happen.
In terms of players, previews were based on the current selection of players that will be at the Combine. With only four Generation Adidas players signed, expect many changes to be made. Also, MLS has not released any information regarding international players that will be attending the Combine; should they decide to include some again, expect even more changes.
Let's take a look at the Goalkeeper and Midfield positions, and what Chivas' options should be.
Don’t draft anyone. All trust has obviously been placed in Dan Kennedy, and rightly so. Kennedy had a stellar season, and, barring injury, should continue to man the goal. The team also has backup in young talent Sergio Arias, and veteran Zach Thornton. It is highly possible that the team could be reconsidering depth options, as Thornton was available in the expansion draft. After all, it is always good to have someone come off the bench if necessary.
Here are some names that could be considered, however I do not foresee the team drafting a Keeper in the SuperDraft:
Brian Rowe (UCLA), Chris Blaise (University of South Florida)
As already stated, the team does not need to draft any midfielders. Before the offseason, our midfield comprised 8 players. While losing Paulo Nagamura, the team added two players in Ryan Smith and Oswaldo Minda, with rumors of a loan deal with another Ecuadorian midfielder.
Could the FO and coaching staff be considering any midfielders? Hopefully not. With the command of Nick LaBrocca, the emergence of Ben Zemanski last season, and every other midfielder on the roster, there really is no need to draft in this position.
There are some very promising midfielders that are available in the draft (and could be should they sign GA contracts i.e. Kelyn Rowe (who signed a GA contract, as reported by Ives Galarcep yesterday) and Enzo Martinez), however, as previously stated, I highly doubt they will go for a midfielder.
Some midfielders that are good but the team SHOULD NOT DRAFT (and as a result I will not analyze):
Sam Garza (UCSB), Nick DeLeon (Louisville), Luis Silva (UCSB), Kirk Urso (UNC), Tony Cascio (UCONN), Andy Rose (UCLA)
So who should Chivas look to select? We'll get down to business in looking at the available defenders and forwards in upcoming posts. Stay tuned...
What do you think? Leave a comment below!