MLS SuperDraft: The Best Draft Picks Since 2000
After a busy 2012 MLS SuperDraft, this article takes a look back at the best players to come into Major League Soccer from the NCAA ranks.
Some teams place very little importance to this drafting process and the quality that can be gained from subsequent drafting. This article will give a little life to this process and show just how important a good draft can be to the success of an MLS franchise.
Counting down the best MLS picks of the past decade.
2000: Carlos Bocanegra
Carlos Bocanegra was drafted by the Chicago Fire with the fourth overall pick in the 2000 MLS SuperDraft.
Bocanegra played 87 games with Chicago and won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. After winning the MLS defender of the year award twice, Bocanegra sought interest overseas.
In 2004, Fulham signed Bocanegra where he enjoyed a successful stint of 115 games.
Upon his release in 2008, he was signed by French side Rennes and later sold to Saint-Etienne.
Currently Bocanegra plays for Scottish Premier side Rangers.
Bocanegra also has been a mainstay for the U.S. national side earning 100 caps.
2001: Ryan Nelsen
Nelsen captained DC United to their fourth MLS Cup, before he too was sought out by an EPL club.
In 2005, after 81 appearances with DC, Nelsen was signed by Blackburn Rovers on a free transfer. Nelsen was a mainstay at the middle of defense for Mark Hughes Rovers.
Nelsen remains with Blackburn after signing a three year contract extension in 2011, he has seen 172 caps for this Premier League side.
Nelsen has also earned 46 caps for New Zealand.
2002: Taylor Twellman
Unlike the past two draftees, Taylor Twellman first tried his craft overseas with German side 1860 Munich. After an unsuccessful European debut, Twellman returned to the United States and entered into the 2002 SuperDraft. He was drafted second overall by the New England Revolution.
Twellman had a tremendously successful MLS career, in 174 appearances for the side, he tallied 101 goals. Winning the MLS MVP award, the Golden Boot, U.S. Open Cup and the 2007 MLS Cup, Twellman had just about the most perfect MLS career.
He also earned 30 USMNT call ups, and won the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Twellman has to be considered as one of the most successful MLS strikers of all time.
2003: Ricardo Clark
Ricardo Clark was drafted second overal in 2003 by the New York MetroStars. Winning MLS Rookie of the Year, Clark only lasted two seasons with New York.
In 2005, he was traded to San Jose and again traded to Houston the following season. In 2007, he missed nearly a month of play while winning the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup with USMNT.
Clark had a solid MLS career in midfield before earning a contract with 2. Bundisliga side Frankfurt.
2004: Clint Dempsey
Clint Dempsey was selected eighth overall by New England in the 2004 draft. He played from 2004-2006 with New England earning 25 goals in 71 appearances.
After a fairly good start to his MLS Career, EPL side, Fulham paid the MLS a $4 Million transfer fee for Dempsey. At the time this was the largest transfer fee offered for an MLS player.
In England Dempsey has blossomed, earning 169 caps for Fulham, Dempsy has scored 42 times. His style of play and drive is an inspiration to watch.
Dempsy has also been part of the heart of the USMNT, earning 82 caps and seeing two World Cups.
Dempsy's Honors include:
MLS Cup Finals (Runners-up), Europa League Finals (Runners-up), two CONCACAF Gold Cups, 2004 MLS Rookie of the Year and 2 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year.
2005: Brad Guzan
In 2005, Brad Guzan was drafted second overall by the Chicago Fire. Guzan played 13 games with Chicago and 79 with Chivas USA, before being purchased for $1.2 Million by Aston Villa.
Although not making hugely significant waves in England thus far, Guzan has been a subject of circumstance, sitting behind some good quality keepers including fellow American Brad Friedel, and Irish star Shay Given.
Guzan has earned 19 caps for the United States.
2006: Sacha Kljestan
Sacha Kljestan was drafted fifth overall by Chivas USA in the 2006 draft. Kljestan had a very successful MLS career playing 114 games with Chivas from 2006-2010. He earned nearly all of his 34 caps with the United States from the MLS.
In 2010 he joined Anderlecht of the Belgian Pro League, winning the Belgian Supercup in his first season.
2007: Maurice Edu
Maurice Edu was drafted first overall by Toronto FC in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft. Edu scored five goals from midfield in his first season in the MLS. Edu was one of the most highly ranked young midfielders in the United States, earning the MLS Rookie of the Year title in his first season with Toronto.
In 2008, a fee of $2.6 Million was agreed for Edu to send this American to Scottish side Rangers. Edu was slowly introduced into this Scottish side and is now becoming the dominant midfielder he always threatened to be.
Edu is still very young at 25 years of age, it will be interesting to follow his European Career.
With the Rangers he has won three Scottish Premier League titles, and two League Cups.
2008: Brek Shea
Brek Shea was drafted straight out of high school, second overall in the 2008 SuperDraft by FC Dallas. There is a lot of hype around Brek Shea at the moment, he is being touted as "the next big thing for the United States". This big and young winger/forward has scored 16 goals in 84 games with Dallas.
At the age of 21, Shea has already earned 10 USMNT caps. He is increasingly becoming a target of transfer speculation, seeing interest by a number of clubs overseas.
2009: Omar Gonzalez
Omar Gonzalez was drafted third overall by the LA Galaxy. Gonzalez was an instant success for LA, winning the MLS Rookie of the Year. Gonzalez is the heart of the LA defense and is another young American with rumors to head abroad.
Gonzalez is currently on a short loan with Bundesliga side F.C. Nurnberg.
After winning 2011 defender of the year, the 2011 MLS Cup and the 2010 and 2011 Supporters Shield, there is not much more for Gonzalez to achieve in Major League Soccer.
After addressing the best SuperDraft picks of the past decade, it is clearly evident that there is some excellent talent coming through the ranks of the NCAA. The next step for MLS as a league is to retain these talented players to increase the quality of the league.
With the 2012 SuperDraft now behind us, it will be interesting to see who can make an instant impact for their club this upcoming season.
*Note* I chose not to include the 2010 and 2011 picks as it is still to early to see who will stand above the rest of their draft class. (And arguably academy prospect Andy Najar has shown greater strides then the 2010 draft class).