Unlike the NBA or NFL drafts, players drafted out of college in the MLS aren't generally expected to make an instant impact.
Rather, they are drafted for depth and groomed, with the hope being that someday they'll develop into players like Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, Brad Guzan, Michael Parkhurst, Maurice Edu, Omar Gonzalez or Matt Besler, among others, all players selected in the SuperDraft.
Yes, some of them may make an instant impact. Yes, certain teams are positioned excellently to add those impact players. But if nothing else, a few MLS teams are in a great position to either find those instant performers or build great depth for the future.
Let's take a closer look at those clubs.
No team is in a better position to improve themselves than the Philadelphia Union. The club has the No. 2 and No. 6 picks and, even better, they are in a position to simply take the best player on the board if they so desire, since they have plenty of positions they could solidify.
But it sounds like Union manager John Hackworth has a plan in place for the draft, as he told Matthew De George of The Times Herald:
We need to maximize this draft. We need to do a really good job selecting players that we feel can really contribute. We have a couple of positional specific areas where we need to add depth, absolutely. And I think that’s our range of focus right now in looking at this draft and at this draft pool.
If they want to improve defensively, they can take either Steve Birnbaum or Christian Dean (depending on which of the two is available). They could also take talented players who perhaps don't have natural positions like Patrick Mullins or Steve Neumann. The possibilities are limitless and exciting for a Union team that needs a bit of a face-lift.
Sure, the players they add in this draft will likely be depth pieces for the time being. But few teams are in a position like the Union to add a potential key contributor for the future.
New England Revolution
The Revolution are all-in for this draft, as they hold the No. 4, No. 12 and No. 19 picks. They acquired the No. 4 pick after a trade with the Columbus Crew.
NESN has more on the trade:
The Revolution dealt defender Michael Parkhurst to Columbus on Monday in exchange for the fourth overall pick in Thursday’s draft and allocation money.
“We certainly value Michael as a player having had him with us six seasons ago, but this trade provided us too much to pass up,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns said in a statement. “This deal provides us with a significant amount of flexibility, both for our salary cap and our roster, and allows us to make additional moves to continue improving our roster.”
The Revolution now have a ton of options. They could package picks to move up in the draft. They could wait to see which player drops to them at No. 4 (I had the Crew taking Maryland forward Schillo Tshuma in my last mock draft, a player who should be available).
If nothing else, the Revolution should be able to add some quality depth in this draft (they also hold a second- and a third-round pick).
Like the Union, the Whitecaps are sitting pretty in the top 10, with the No. 3 and No. 7 picks. And at that No. 3 selection, it seems like a very real possibility that the team can potentially add their keeper of the future, UConn's Andre Blake, to be David Ousted's understudy in the short-term.
And yes, the expectation will be that Ousted is eventually ousted by Blake.
With the No. 7 pick, the team could then look to find a replacement for Lee Young-Pyo, who retired this season. This draft isn't loaded at right-back—and a veteran addition will be required at the position—but one player who might be available and would make sense is Creighton's Eric Miller.
The Whitecaps have very defined needs—they could also add some depth at the attacking midfielder position—and talented players at those positions should be available when they select. Look for the Whitecaps to be rather predictable on draft day.