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MLS Draft 2012: Ethan Finlay and More Underrated First-Round Steals

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 12:  Number 10 overall pick, Ethan Finlay, selected by the Columbus Crew, motions to his family during the first round of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft presented by Adidas on January 12, 2012 at Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The MLS SuperDraft doesn't get nearly as much publicity as its major sport counterparts, but it's always interesting to see young athletes getting their first crack at professional life. This season's first round was loaded with potential stars who will make an immediate impact on their new teams.

Here are three selections that might have gone overlooked, but will pay off in the long run.

Columbus Crew, Ethan Finlay

Columbus selected Finlay with the 10th overall pick. He's a versatile attacker who can play on either wing and brings some terrific pace to the table. The Creighton will immediately provide a boost to a Crew offense which finished in the middle of the pack last season.

There were some varying opinions about his ability to produce at the next level following his combine showing, but his track record shows it's pretty clear he knows how to find the back of the net. That's exactly what Columbus needs to boost the Crew into title contention.

Philadelphia Union, Chandler Hoffman

Hoffman's slide to Philadelphia at pick No. 13 was probably the most shocking aspect about the opening round. He was widely considered to be a top-10, and potentially a top-five, pick, but instead he didn't hear his name until the Union picked.

He's another player with a nose for goal, scoring 18 times in 24 games for UCLA, who can have an instant boost to the team's offense. While it's unclear why he wasn't picked sooner, you can bet he'll use it as motivation ahead of his rookie season.

Real Salt Lake, Enzo Martinez

An attacking midfielder with a bundle of flair, Martinez was selected 17th by Real Salt Lake. He's a perfect fit for the team's system and was one of the best pure distributors available in the class. It's amazing that so many teams passed on his high ceiling.

That said, perhaps landing with Real Salt Lake will be the best thing for him. It takes away any potential pressure of being an early selection, which can derail any career. If Martinez's career at North Carolina is any indication, the team's supporters are in for quite a show.

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