Well Thursday will see another round of the MLS SuperDraft, and I tend to wonder what is so super about it, most people agree that only a handful of players each year make a big splash right away with their teams. Heck RSL has probably the best attitude in the league on it's expectations of drafted players, none in the first year.
Over the years the players actually drafted by Real Salt Lake have had a very mixed impact, and while many players on our roster were drafted by someone (since that is the most common way of entering MLS) if you look at our roster today you will only see only one regular starter that was actually drafted by RSL, Tony Beltran.
after the jump a look at the history of RSL's past drafts:
The last time MLS had two team entering the league in the same year was 2005 when both RSL and Chivas USA jumped into the pool, RSL had the first pick and it was a 16 yr old Nik Besagno who was taken first and went on to make no impact for the team and I believe now plays Kitsap Pumas of the PDL. RSL followed his selection with the first pick in the second round by choosing Jamie Watson, who played in 38 matches for RSL and scored a couple MLS goals but now he plays for Orlando City (where the Austin Aztexs moved), in 2010 he was a Best XI in Division 2. RSL's next pick was in the 4th round and it was Luke Kreamalmeyer, he played in 6 matches for RSL and has become a journeyman player in the 2nd division of US Soccer.
2006 saw RSL select 2nd in the draft and they chose the player that would have the biggest impact in the teams history, Mehdi Ballouchy. Mehdi played in almost 50 matches for RSL, but his greatest impact was being the trade bait that landed RSL Kyle Beckerman from the Colorado Rapids. Our next pick in 2006 was the selection of Ryan Johnson, in the 3rd round and while Ryan never took off at RSL he did land in San Jose a couple years ago and has become a regular part of their team.
In 2007 RSL selected 4th and took Chris Seitz, Chris was a great backup keeper for RSL for several years. He was traded to the Union last year and with their horrid defense he struggled last year and this year he has landed as Kevin Hartman's backup in Dallas. The next RSL pick was in the 3rd round and they chose Steven Curfman, who never took the pitch for RSL and has played a bit in the lower divisions of US Soccer.
2008 was a good year for RSL in the draft, with the #3 picked they surprised people by taking Tony Beltran, who is a regular part of the RSL lineup and one of the most underrated defenders in MLS. With the #14 pick in the first round RSL picked David Horst, who while he didn't see much action with RSL he spent 2010 with the P.R. Islanders and has developed into a quality player, he was selected by the Portland Timbers in the expansion draft this off season. Of course there was the lack of success at RSL for Alex Nimo, Alex is a great kid who showed lots of potential but with a very deep midfield he was sent on loan in both 2009 and 2010 to Portland where he was a regular part of their team. After the 2010 season RSL released Alex and so far I don't believe he has signed a new contract with anyone. Our next pick was Brennan Tennelle, who never took the field for RSL and I am not sure what his current status is.
With the #12 pick in the 2009 draft RSL surprised people again with their selection of Jean Alexandre, who has made 19 appearances with first team and spent some time on loan with USL teams to help his development. I expect that Jean will continue to develop for RSL and has the potential to be a top defensive midfielder or defender in the league. In the 4th round RSL selected Raphael Cox, he was another victim of a very crowded midfield and was released after the 2009 season, he currently plays withe the Tacoma of the PDL and has a facebook page dedicated to getting him back to MLS. RSL also took Mfanafuthi Bhembe, who saw action in a couple matches but was released, he is now playing in South Africa.
In 2010 RSL selected Collen Warner with the 15th pick after convincing him to give RSL and MLS a chance, he appeared in 10 matches for the team last year and while he is still young he has shown himself to have great skill and could be a big part of RSL's future. In the second round they took Justin Davis, I don't believe he is even playing professional soccer anymore. In the 3rd round RSL took Chris Schuler, who saw action in one MLS match and a couple of CCL matches, he was showing great promise before breaking his foot in training and ending his 2010 season. The final pick of RSL last year was Kris Banghart, he didn't make the RSL roster and I am unsure of where or if he is still playing.
There you have it, of all the players ever drafted by RSL only one (Tony Beltran) played more than 500 minutes for the team in 2010. Some have made an impact with the team and so still could but for RSL there has been little "Super" about the draft. RSL has made a huge trade that brought Kyle Beckerman to the team, they picked up veteran players like Nick Rimando, Ned Grabavoy, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, and they have found players overseas like Javier Morales, Fabian Espindola, and Alvaro Saborio. Of course the heart and soul of RSL is Andy Williams the last playing original member of the 2005 team.
I do understand the value of the Draft, until this year it was one of the main pipelines of talent for Major League Soccer, but with better scouting, a higher profile around the world, and teams now investing in academy systems, the impact of the draft will continue to become less and less important in my opinion. A few players each year will join teams that struggled or didn't exist the year before and make a long term impact, for the top teams who select later in the draft it is a lot less likely that "diamonds" will be found but you never know when a team will get a "diamond in the rough" that can turn into a real difference maker.
Yes it gives us all something to write about, yes it gives fans a chance to start the new year with some new names and faces to try to remember, it after all is the start of the 2011 MLS season.
OFF MY SOAPBOX