If you blinked Monday afternoon, you may have missed the fact that Major League Soccer held the first in what will be a number of drafts throughout the offseason. And so while we are not yet done dissecting D.C. United's 2012 MLS season, time (and drafts) march forward. It is in the spirit of all of these drafts that I give you my picks in the first annual draft of MLS drafts!
But drafts are not always about improving your team, but they are also about playing defense and making sure that other teams do not try and steal your players away. All of these factors play into my rankings of these drafts.
1. MLS SuperDraft (Likely either January 10 or 17, 2013): The SuperDraft has been good to United these past few years. Chris Pontius was the team's second first round draft pick in 2009; Perry Kitchen, Chris Korb, and Joe Willis were the three picks in 2011, and Nick DeLeon was the single pick in 2012. While everyone is predicting the eventual end of the SuperDraft as a meaningful way to acquire young players, that day is still years away. With such a track record of success, the SuperDraft is the obvious number 1 pick.
2. Expansion draft (No 2012 edition): While it is a relief not to have to prepare for it this year, expansion drafts are probably the most exciting out of all of the drafts MLS puts on. Besides the ins and outs of the protections lists, they also introduce you to the personality of the new team and their head coach. Jesse Marsch taking Brian Ching and then only getting a conditional draft pick in return left everyone scratching their heads. And let us not forget the wheeling and dealing that can be done in an expansion draft: United traded Rodney Wallace and a fourth round pick for Dax McCarty immediately after the 2010 expansion draft, and the rest is history.
3. Re-Entry Draft (December 2012): While MLS does not yet have true free agency, the Re-Entry Draft was created as a way to prevent clubs from just sitting on a player's rights when the no longer have interest in them. Players not selected in either of the two stages of the Re-Entry Draft become free agents and can sign with any team. Last year, two D.C. United players were chosen: Clyde Simms went to the New England Revolution and the Seattle Sounders traded up to get Marc Burch. After the draft was over, Brandon Barklage and Jed Zayner eventually signed for other MLS teams, while the rest of those players are seemingly retired. The excitement in this draft are the big names that are often available, but usually past their prime.
4. Supplemental Draft (~5 days after SuperDraft): The Supplemental Draft gets points for the excitement of new players, but is downgraded by the fact that so few of them ever stick. Since it was brought back in 2011, United has chosen two players who have actually made the roster: Lance Rozeboom, a 2012 selection, and Blake Brettschneider, a 2011 pick. The other names from the past two Supplemental Drafts include Matt Kuhn, Charles Rodriguez, and PASS. Any draft in which teams pass cannot be ranked very high.
5. Waiver Draft (whenever players are waived): This draft is nothing more than the waiver wire order being cemented into a draft for a day. It was announced a couple hours before it happened and MLS said that the teams themselves would be announcing any player movement. That led to two hours of people wondering if the draft was still happening, with only Cole Grossman taken by Real Salt Lake. No interesting players involved and no excitement in the process makes this draft easily the last pick.