The 2014 MLS SuperDraft started with a bang, as the Philadelphia Union acquired the top overall selection in a trade with D.C. United. By moving up one spot, the Union ensured they could draft goalkeeper Andre Blake.
Even though the draft expanded to four rounds this year, only two took place on the first day of the event. As Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times points out, teams will make the remaining selections via conference call on Jan. 21.
Here are the draft results from the first two rounds, followed by a recap with reaction to some of the most notable moves and picks.
Round 1 Results
|1||Philadelphia Union (via DC)||Andre Blake||GK|
|2||D.C. United (via PHI, CHV)||Steve Birnbaum||DF|
|3||Vancouver Whitecaps (via TOR)||Christian Dean||DF|
|4||New England Revolution (via CLB)||Steve Neumann||FW|
|5||Montreal Impact (via DAL)||Eric Miller||DF|
|6||FC Dallas (via PHI)||Tesho Akindele||FW|
|7||Vancouver Whitecaps||Andre Lewis||MF|
|8||Seattle Sounders (via CHI)||Damion Lowe||DF|
|9||San Jose Earthquakes||JJ Koval||MF|
|10||Toronto FC (via PHI, DAL, MON)||Nick Hagglund||DF|
|11||New England Revolution (via COL)||Patrick Mullins||FW|
|12||Colorado Rapids (via NE)||Marlon Hairston||MF|
|13||Chicago Fire (via SEA)||Marco Franco||DF|
|14||Columbus Crew (via LA)||Ben Sweat||DF|
|15||Philadelphia Union (via TOR, NY)||Pedro Ribeiro||MF|
|16||Houston Dynamo||A.J. Cochran||DF|
|17||Portland Timbers||Schillo Tshuma||FW|
|18||Real Salt Lake||Ryan Neil||DF|
|19||Colorado Rapids (via NE, KC)||Grant Van De Casteele||DF|
Round 2 Results
|20||Chivas USA (via DC)||Thomas McNamara||MF|
|21||Seattle Sounders (via CHV)||Jimmy Ockford||DF|
|22||New York Red Bulls (via TOR)||Chris Duvall||DF|
|23||Los Angeles Galaxy (via CLB)||Kyle Venter||DF|
|24||Toronto FC (via DAL)||Daniel Lovitz||MF|
|25||Philadelphia Union||Kevin Cope||MF|
|26||Portland Timbers (via VAN)||Taylor Peay||DF|
|27||Philadelphia Union (via CHI)||Robert Derschang||DF|
|28||San Jose Earthquakes||Joe Sofia||DF|
|29||D.C. United (via MON)||Victor Munoz||MF|
|30||Vancouver Whitecaps (via COL)||Mamadou Diouf||FW|
|31||New England Revolution||Alec Sundly||MF|
|32||Houston Dynamo (via SEA)||Mark Sherrod||FW|
|33||Colorado Rapids (via LA)||Jared Watts||MF|
|34||New York Red Bulls||Eric Stevenson||MF|
|35||Colorado Rapids (via HOU)||John Berner||GK|
|36||Portland Timbers||Aaron Long||MF|
|37||Montreal Impact||George Malki||MF|
|38||Sporting Kansas City||Adnan Gabeljic||FW|
Recap and Reaction
Philadelphia's radar must have been locked in on Blake because the Union felt the need to move up one spot to get him rather than risk losing him to another club. After they made the pick, the goalkeeper couldn't even turn his emotions into words, as the team noted:
"Words can't explain right now what I am feeling." - @philaunion newest member Andre Blake.— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) January 16, 2014
In a draft class that's a step down from recent years, Blake is one of the players capable of stepping right in to make an instant impact. ESPN Stats & Info points out he also earns the distinction of being the first goalkeeper ever selected No. 1 overall in the MLS draft:
UConn keeper Andre Blake is the No. 1 pick in the MLS SuperDraft. Blake is the 1st keeper ever taken with No. 1 overall pick.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 16, 2014
D.C. United already have Bill Hamid in goal, which means moving down brought in the extra allocation money while still allowing the club to grab their main target. It turns out that was Steve Birnbaum, an MLS-ready center-back with plenty of upside.
Birnbaum has good size, which makes him an asset on set pieces both offensively and defensively, and is as steady and reliable as any player in the class. United provided remarks from general manager Dave Kasper, who expects the Cal product to have a long career:
Interestingly, the first selection made with a pick still in possession of its original owner didn't come until No. 7, when the Vancouver Whitecaps selected Andre Lewis. The Jamaican midfielder is a technically promising prospect but needs experience.
Another pick of note came at No. 11 as the New England Revolution moved up one spot to grab Patrick Mullins. He slid a little bit after being viewed as a potential top-five selection heading into the draft, but all that will do is give a player with solid attacking talent extra motivation.
The New England Soccer Journal notes Mullins is a two-time Hermann Trophy winner as the top college soccer player in the country:
Patrick Mullins is the two-time Hermann Trophy winner and a top collegiate scorer — 26 goals in 26 games for the Terrapins.— NE Soccer Journal (@NESoccerJournal) January 16, 2014
One of the most intriguing players in the class, A.J. Cochran, went to the Houston Dynamo with the 16th pick.
A defender with terrific size and strength to match, he has all the physical tools to become a very good center-back. He's still working on the finer points of the position, though, so his development is going to take some time.
Ives Galarcep mentions he does land with a club needing depth at the back, which should help his cause:
No. 16- Houston selects A.J. Cochran. Big left-footed centerback for team that needs depth at that position. Also a Generation adidas player— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) January 16, 2014
The opening round came to a close when the Colorado Rapids selected defender Grant Van De Casteele. Another central defender with good size, the only major question mark is if the Notre Dame star has enough short-area quickness to keep up with top attackers at the MLS level and beyond.
Who will be the top player to emerge from this draft class?
Two of the league's most high-profile clubs, the New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy, finally got into the action in the second round after not having a pick in the first.
New York opted for right-back Chris Duvall. He's an interesting prospect because he has the speed necessary to run up and down the right side to help on the attack. His one-on-one defending still needs work before he can be totally counted on, though.
The Galaxy were up next and took Kyle Venter. The New Mexico center-back is another one of the large group of big central defenders available in the class. He isn't as polished as some of his counterparts taken earlier in the draft but is still a good value pick.
Another potential steal out of Round 2 is Mamadou Diouf, whom the Whitecaps selected. He lacks consistency out of UConn, which isn't uncommon for young players, but he's a great athlete with finishing ability and useful versatility, as he can play as an attacking midfielder or atop the formation.
The Red Bulls' second pick of the round was midfielder Eric Stevenson. He's a developmental prospect with a strong foundation of technical skills. New York will hope he's able to improve his game in MLS.
After a lot of activity early in the draft, things slowed down near the end of the second round. The final selection in the opening half of the event was Adnan Gabeljic by reigning champions Sporting Kansas City.