Creighton attacking midfielder Jose Gomez is our choice for D.C. United in the 2013 MLS Mock Draft. - Creighton Athletics
Black and Red United's pick for SB Nation Soccer's mock draft is attacking midfielder Jose Gomez, a Creighton Bluejay considered to be as skillful as anyone coming out of the NCAA ranks this season. A look on what Gomez would bring to the table and where he'd fit into United's plans.
D.C. United is firmly in the "take the best available player" camp when it comes to drafting college players. The thought process is pretty straightforward: Having too many good players at a given position is a "problem," not an actual problem. If United ends up with too many good players at a position, there's almost always going to be another MLS team in need of a guy. If you catch a team in a tough spot, you can turn your surplus bench player into a starter elsewhere (see: Danny Cruz for Lionard Pajoy).
With that in mind, I fake-drafted Creighton playmaker Jose Gomez with the #17 pick in SB Nation Soccer's mock draft. It wasn't an easy choice, with quality players like New Mexico winger Blake Smith and Georgetown duo Tommy Muller and Ian Christianson still available, but Gomez was (narrowly) the best soccer player available at the time in my book. It should be pointed out that Gomez is the only guy in the draft discussion that has also drawn interest from Mexican champions Club Tijuana. In other words, dude can play.
It's also not like United has filled up on attacking midfielders. Branko Boskovic's departure opens up a path for a player like Gomez to get on the field, and Raphael Augusto's loan hasn't been officially extended yet either. If United sticks with a double-pivot 442, Gomez could see plenty of substitute appearances replacing Marcelo Saragosa (if we're trailing) or De Ro (if we're winning and want to kill the game with possession).
That said, it's not a slam dunk choice. Gomez is a polarizing player thanks to the long history of MLS coaches not trusting smallish attacking midfielders that come out of the college ranks. If United wants Gomez to learn how to play on the wing, or simply never gives him any minutes, we'd be better off picking someone else. There is also that interest from Los Xolos, who are said to have invited Gomez for a formal trial after the MLS combine ends. If they like him and offer a deal, it's going to be hard to match the money or the appeal of signing for the ambitious Liga MX champions.
However, since I previously said I'd be up for trading this pick, I think taking a risk here is worth it. If Gomez can embrace the demands of the professional game, he has the talent to potentially be a starting attacking midfielder in MLS within 2-3 years. Players like that don't just grow on trees. It's a gamble, but then so is going after some youngster from Brazil or Central America. At least Gomez has plenty of experience in the same American development system that produced at least six current United starters, and unlike similar players from abroad he won't take up an international roster spot (though born in Mexico, Gomez has dual citizenship).