clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

D.C. United's Dispersal Draft prospects (Part one of two)

New, 1 comment

In a two-part series, we're taking a look at every player that the Black-and-Red might conceivably pick in tomorrow's dispersal draft.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

As we discussed yesterday, D.C. United will have the fourth pick in the upcoming Chivas USA dispersal draft. While no one is under the impression that this draft will see United grab another Nick Rimando - who we acquired after the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny met their demise - this coming Wednesday, there is a distinct undercurrent of skepticism about the quality of the players MLS sides will have a chance at signing.

In my book at least, that's mistake. I saw plenty of Chivas games this year, and while the individual talent level was low it was not disastrous. A lot of the times, the roster's overall construction didn't make sense. It was hard to put these parts into a coherent team, which in turn makes useful players look worse than they really are. There are still players who are good enough to contribute at RFK Stadium right now, especially in a season that will see - at a minimum - six CCL games on top of league play and the Open Cup. There are also a couple of young guys who could grow into good players as well.

To put it more simply, there are CUSA players that would improve United's roster, and there aren't just three of them. I was concerned that United wouldn't have an angle on the players worth taking, but that was based on an expectation to end up outside the top eight or nine picks. Picking fourth is more than good enough to land a player who can make a positive impact for Ben Olsen's side in 2015.

Before we proceed, I strongly recommend reading these pieces:

With all of that information in mind, let's dive in. This list is in alphabetical order and is covering every player I can come up with a conceivable reason for United to pick.

Felix Borja
Age: 31
Position: Striker
Odds of ending up with DCU: Low

No one paid him much mind, but after arriving on loan from LDU Quito in mid-August Borja managed 3 goals - as well as having a potential fourth rather harshly ruled to be an own goal - in 12 appearances. Those are respectable rather than earth-shattering numbers, but let's put them in context: Chivas USA, by mid-August, was struggling to carve out anything approaching a chance to shoot on goal, much less actually score. Borja produced at a pace that would produce roughly 8-10 goals over a full season while feeding on the sparsest of scraps.

Despite only being 5'10", Borja has a bit of Luciano Emilio about him in terms of being a better hold-up player than his build would indicate. His 2014 salary was the senior roster minimum ($48,504), so no matter what happens in the CBA we'd be talking about a cheaper, more productive alternative to Conor Doyle. Of course, the downside to that line of thinking is that Borja is on the wrong side of 30, takes up an international spot, and can't play wide like Doyle. There's also his loan status; to keep him around, United would have to commit to extending that loan through 2015, which a) might come with a financial obligation and b) might crumble anyway if LDU and/or Borja would prefer a return to Ecuador.

Caleb Calvert
Age: 18
Position: Striker
Odds of ending up with DCU: Low

Calvert is one of the two Homegrown players Chivas had on their roster, and at 6'2" may have a future as a target man. He only just turned 18 last month and hasn't made an appearance yet. At least some of that is unfortunate for him. In 2013, he broke his foot almost immediately after signing his first pro contract and missed the remainder of the year. In 2014, Chivas fielded one-forward formations often enough that, with Torres and Borja in the fold, there just wasn't room for him to play.

Given his lack of exposure and youth national team hype, though, my guess is that United will not be uprooting an 18 year old from his home city to move cross-country on the off-chance that he blossoms into a big-time player. It might be best for everyone involved if the Galaxy or Quakes grab him instead.

Marvin Chavez
Age: 31
Position: Right winger, but capable of playing on the left or as a second forward
Odds of ending up with DCU: Low

There was a time not long ago where Honduran national team veteran Chavez would be one of the coveted players in this draft, but in truth it's been two years since Chavez looked like anything but an MLS journeyman. His 13 assists in 2012 stand out, but that was the year San Jose clearly made a deal with the devil. Since then, Chavez has 3 goals and 1 assist in 31 appearances. During the same stretch of time, he's picked up more yellow cards (four) than goals, and more reds (two) than assists.

There's still a good player somewhere in there, but the real issue here with Chavez isn't his roster status (he has a green card) but his salary. We can never be sure what a player's actual cap hit is, but the listed salary for Chavez is $200,000. That's way too much money to pay for a guy who appears to have permanently lost his top form.

Marco Delgado
Age: 19
Position: Central or right midfield, but has also played both right and left back as well as left midfield
Odds of ending up with DCU: Medium

Delgado is among the players that everyone agrees will be taken. A Homegrown player and US under-20, Delgado is never going to be a superstar. What he will be, however, is a steady and reliable utility knife of a player for what looks to be a very long time. "Marky" won't turn 20 until May, but he already has 37 professional appearances.

This year Delgado spent more time in the midfield than anywhere else, and that appears to be the best place for him. When Chivas opted to play a more narrow 4132, Delgado was among their better players functioning as a shuttler to the right or left of center. In the 442 Olsen has largely preferred, Delgado has the engine and reliable technical ability to become Davy Arnaud's back-up. It's not hard at all to imagine Delgado rapidly growing into a great partner for Perry Kitchen by learning from Arnaud (and for that matter Olsen, who let's not forget played exactly that kind of role in a World Cup).

Delgado's versatility would also make him a good option on either side of midfield when United wants to protect a lead, and he would offer some cover at fullback. That would be a nice luxury given that one or both of Chris Korb and Taylor Kemp are looking like possible Expansion Draft departures.

In truth, the "Medium" odds I gave above are probably unrealistic. The issue here isn't that United won't want Delgado, but rather that all three of the teams picking before the Black-and-Red will also want to take him. I honestly expect Dallas to take him with the first pick, but if the Hoops, NYCFC, and the Sporks want to let him land in our lap I'd be happy.

Ryan Finley
Age: 23
Position: Striker
Odds of ending up with DCU: Low

On one hand, Finley was a terror at high-profile college programs. Between two years at Duke and two more at Notre Dame, he scored 56 goals in 78 appearances. Before heading to college, he appeared for the US under-17 and under-18 teams. We're talking about a guy that was picked 9th overall in the 2013 SuperDraft. There are few questions about his ability to hunt down chances and finish them off.

There are, however, major questions about what goes on inside his head. Finley reportedly changed schools over disciplinary issues, and Fighting Irish coach Bobby Clark used him exclusively as a substitute. I do mean exclusively, too: Finley never started a single game at Notre Dame despite scoring 21 goals in 22 games as a senior. As a pro, there are rumors that a loan to the Dayton Dutch Lions went poorly due to attitude problems, and a month after those rumors were sparked he was shipped out to Chivas for a conditional 2016 2nd round draft pick. That's basically the proverbial bag of balls.

If a coach breaks through to Finley, there's a talented goalscorer who at 23 can still become a good MLS player in there. Most likely, though, Finley will go unselected and will have to prove he can fit into a team environment by going on a preseason trial somewhere.

Jhon Kennedy Hurtado
Age: 30
Position: Center back
Odds of ending up with DCU: Low

I'm frankly reluctant to include Hurtado here, because he has been flat-out bad for two years now. His play in 2013 with Seattle was disguised rather well by the Sounders being a good team overall, but it was no real surprise that Sigi Schmid moved him along in the offseason. His time with a lesser side in Chicago made those flaws more obvious, and at Chivas he was justifiably not a regular starter despite how often the Goats struggled in central defense.

First impressions go a long way though, and I've seen Hurtado's name come up among multiple fanbases when discussing this draft. We should all be hoping some other Eastern Conference team takes the plunge. It's very difficult to imagine Hurtado getting into the 18 ahead of Kofi Opare, much less making a contribution commensurate with his high salary ($210,000).

Andrew Jean-Baptiste
Age: 22
Position: Center back
Odds of ending up with DCU: Medium

AJB joins Delgado as a strong candidate to go in the top 3 picks. Teams are going to remember his play for the 2013 edition of the Portland Timbers, and the fact that he's got 41 MLS appearances at just 22 years old is a good sign. Jean-Baptiste barely played for Chivas this year (in part due to injury). It was strange that he played so little when available, though; after all, this is a team that occasionally fielded Tony Lochhead in central defense.

Basically, it helps to look at Jean-Baptiste as a fixer-upper with huge potential. There are rumors of discipline issues, but if Olsen feels he can square that away  and isn't scared off by the injuries there are more reasons to pick the UConn product than to avoid him. In the right hands, Jean-Baptiste could become a top-notch MLS defender, and with his young age and five-figure salary there's a case to be made on him being worth the risk.

That's it for part one of our look at every explicable Dispersal Draft outcome. Check back tomorrow morning for part two, which will be just as long (or possibly longer).