All of MLS seems to be in agreement that D.C. United will select a forward in Thursday's 2011 MLS Draft. Kevin Payne said himself that the team is "focused on the attacking players that we've seen." And that's what they'll select, short of The Portland Timbers passing on Perry Kitchen, which seems entirely unlikely since they've all but signed Kenny Cooper.
Even though United will almost certainly select either Will Bruin, Omar Castillo, or Joao Plata, let's take a look at some of the defenders that will be available anyway. If only so we can look back and weep as one of them turns into the next Carlos Bocanegra or Omar Gonzalez.
Kofi Sarkodie was by many accounts the college soccer player of the year, which must be tough to do from a fullback position. Sarkodie scored the game-winning goal for Akron in the semi-finals of the College Cup against Michigan, and is known best for his ability to get forward with pace. This is also my top concern. I'm not sure if MLS coaches see Sarkodie more as a right winger than a right back. He's probably going to have to prove himself capable of defending for a 90 minute match with intelligence. Even though he might be the best player available when United picks third, I don't see them picking someone whose best position could be the same as Andy Najar.
Onto more defensive-minded defenders. The comparison between the two highest ranked center backs may be similar to the conversations we've been having about our forwards. Jalil Anibaba might be to Zarek Valentin what Will Bruin is to Omar Salgado. Anibaba, a senior out of UNC, is widely thought as one of the players who showed the best at the MLS Combine. Kyle McCarthy speaks of not only his defensive organization and leadership, but also his accurate passing. He could absolutely start in MLS from Day 1.
Valentin started all 25 matches for Akron as a 19-year old sophomore. He's more MLS ready than Salgado (some think he's the best defensive player in the draft), but he might fall down the draft board as teams look to add a bit more experience to their backlines.