The other day, I sent three questions about the looming SuperDraft (Thursday, noon, ESPNews) to the contributors here at B&RU. I wanted to know what they thought United should do with the top pick, what they think the Black-and-Red will do with the pick and which other team they're going to be watching for on Thursday. Here are the responses - most of which were amended after yesterday's trade shenanigans.
What should United do with the #1 pick?
ChestRockwell: My first option would be to ask Houston if they're willing to part with Oscar Boniek Garcia. After that fails and the laughter dies, I'd call the Rapids up and ask how they feel about moving Chris Klute.
After that fails, I'd probably depart from my SB Nation mock draft pick of Patrick Mullins and instead go for Cal center back Christian Dean. The Ethan White trade has left a gap in United's roster for a young, super-athletic center back, and Dean is a Generation Adidas (read: free, cap-wise) player. The fact that he may - emphasis on that - be able to fill in at left back helps too. The questions about his ability to think for himself are legit, but with Parke or Bobby Boswell telling him what to do it's less of an issue.
BlasianSays: Now that Ethan White is gone in exchange for Jeff Parke, United definitely must take a center back that can play right now, and that is Steve Birnbaum (Cal). Christian Dean is the other candidate, but the question over his readiness to contribute at that position immediately is important to acknowledge. With Parke's career waning, as well as that of his new teammate Bobby Boswell, it is important to get a player for both now and the future.
Ben Bromley: I think that D.C. United should keep the pick unless offered an RGIII level of other considerations, which I do not expect. I'm changing my mind a bit from last week's episode of Filibuster, especially since Christian Dean has not really proved to be a viable option at left back in limited time at the combine. Therefore, I think that D.C. United should go with Steve Birnbaum, setting him up to take over for Bobby Boswell in a year or two.
stephen.whiting: After last season, D.C. United needs to improve all over the field. But, their most pressing need is to strengthen the backline and become an above-average defensive team once again. For this reason, D.C. United should draft California defender Steve Birnbaum. Let's watch Birnbaum, Jeff Pakre, Bobby Boswell, Nana Attakora, and Conor Shanosky battle it out in preseason to see who will form the central duo of United's defense.
primetimeMitch: Draft Steve Birnbaum (D, Cal). I know some folks think United needs a forward and want to keep Mullins in DMV, and then some want to take Dean to fill the void at left back, but the best overall player in this draft in Steve Birnbaum. He's a lock-down defender at center back and he's MLS ready. Sure, DCU has
Ethan White Jeff Parke and Bobby Boswell, but this pick further solidifies the position for right now and for the future.
Adam M Taylor: Before yesterday's misadventures in trading, I would have said United should entertain trade offers, but now I'm fully against that. Now I say we should just take Dave Kasper's phone away from him until we select Steve Birnbaum first overall. He's got the best parts of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler's games, presenting a dominant aerial presence both in attack and defense as well as a calming, game-reading presence in central defense. The 5th year senior out of Cal could start for United tomorrow, and with Jeff Parke and Bobby Boswell not getting any younger (even if they haven't been prone to injury historically), we will need somebody who is ready to be thrown into the deep end in USOC and continental play this year.
What will United do with the first pick?
stephen.whiting: Expect D.C. United to hold onto their top overall pick and not trade it away. Selecting players through the draft has been where the Black-and-Red have succeeded in recent years, so expect them to play to that strength.
Ben Bromley: The allure of Patrick Mullins will be too great to pass up, and Dave Kasper and Ben Olsen will add another Maryland product to their team.
Adam M Taylor: If Cyle Larin signs a last-minute deal in time to go into the draft pool, look for United to be too tempted by his raw attributes. Otherwise, I think they do the reasonable thing and sign Birnbaum, knowing that they need three starting quality players for the two center back spots if there's going to be any hope of surviving the season.
primetimeMitch: I don't think it's completely out of the question that they trade the pick a few spots down, but I think they'll take Birnbaum. Some (like Ives Galarcep of SBI) are saying that DCU isn't as high on Birnbaum's teammate, Christian Dean, and I think that Olsen is satisfied with the forwards he has now to pass on a guy like Patrick Mullins. If DCU trades down, I think it's only if another club offers a "Godfather-like" deal.
ChestRockwell:Until the White for Parke deal, I was sure the plan was to take Dean's teammate Steve Birnbaum. Now, that doesn't add up unless Dave Kasper's Mo Johnston-esque wheeling and dealing isn't done and the next step is to trade the just-acquired Bobby Boswell. For better or worse, United wants to roll with Boswell and Parke at center back, and that means bringing Dean in to essentially replace White is the thing to do.
Then again, United is big on surprising us lately, so who knows? Maybe trade the #1 to Vancouver for the #3 and underused winger Erik Hurtado?
BlasianSays: Draft Steve Birnbaum. If it's anything other than Birnbaum or Dean, I'll be even more perplexed than I am now about the White trade.
What other team are you watching for in the draft?
Adam M Taylor: For me it's Toronto FC. Sure they only have the 15th and 24th picks tomorrow, but that's as of right now. Tim Leiweke learned how to create a successful "Superclub" with Bruce Arena at the LA Galaxy, and beyond signing really good players to really big contracts, the foundation is the SuperDraft, where LA took guys like Omar Gonzalez and AJ De La Garza and, once upon a time, Sean Franklin. Look for the Reds to be active, as they've still got a lot of gaps on their roster (despite currently carrying 4 designated players).
Ben Bromley: I'm interested to see what the Vancouver Whitecaps do, especially after their strange off-season (so far). Losing Camillo and waiting so long to install a new coach has thrown off their building, so this could be a chance for them to get back on track.
ChestRockwell: For LOLs: The Philadelphia Union, who last year marketed their picks - basically a bunch of huge reaches and fliers - as "MLS ready;" this time, they're trying suspiciously hard to undersell the draft field. They just tagged us pretty good, but my suspicion is that the Union will somehow screw it up.
stephen.whiting: FC Dallas just landed Oscar Pareja as their coach this past weekend. They have one pick in the first two rounds (#5 in the first round), so it will be interesting to see what direction they go and whether Pareja drafts a player for his preferred attacking style of play. The Dallas organization and fan community have been talking about selecting a defender with the #5 overall pick (the SB Nation mock draft predicted Dallas would take Cal defender Christian Dean), but Pareja may be looking farther up the field for talent.
BlasianSays: Philadelphia. They somehow still have four of the first 27 picks in the draft even after the trade (what's up, Dave Kasper?) - #2 and #6 in the first round, and then #6 (#25 overall) and #8 (#27 overall) in the second round. If United takes a center back at #1, what Philadelphia does next will shape the rest of the draft. If you allow that a center back is going to go #1 or #2 no matter what, the other player in that pair is going to make the difference. White's presence shouldn't be enough to put Philly off of the other of Dean and Birnbaum, but I believe the gulf in class between the 2nd tier of center backs (everyone after Dean and Birnbaum) is not as big as the gulf between the best forward (Mullins) and the rest. Might Philadelphia take Mullins and hope that they get defensive help at #6? The form of their forwards overall last year might make that enticing. Or would they listen to trade offers from other teams desperately in need of center back help at #2? This could be fun.
primetimeMitch: There are three: Philadelphia, Vancouver, and New England. I'm watching the Union and the Whitecaps simply because they pick right after United and I'm interested to see how the dominoes fall once the black and red make their pick. The Union also have four of the first 27 picks in the draft and have a number of needs so it wouldn't be a shocker if they pull off a trade on draft day. New England also has a handful of early picks - three in the first round alone. Are they going to use those picks or package them for something (or someone) else?
Now it's your turn, B&RU readers. Who should D.C. take #1 - or should they trade the pick? What do you think will happen, and who else will you be watching closely?
- Jeff Parke, D.C. United, And You: What to expect from the Black-and-Red's newest player
- D.C. United trading Ethan White and the top allocation spot for the Philadelphia Union's Jeff Parke
- Filibuster podcast episode 63: MLS SuperDraft SuperCoverage with Travis Clark, plus Maurice Edu rumors
- Behind the Scenes of the US Soccer Development Academy: Richmond United Town Hall
- Michael Seaton to train with Inter Milan until the start of D.C. United's training camp