Well I went into the draft with very low expectations and knowing that RSL has a fairly solid roster with only a few openings. We know Chris Seitz is gone, as is Yura, so there were two open slots at the start of the day. With the trade of Clint Mathis to LA for a flip flop of the 16th and 15th picks, we had 3 open spots.
After looking and reading a bit about Collen Warner, he might a Real deal in the draft, he was projected to be picked in the top 20 and had invites to trial with teams in Germany and France. RSL ensured he would forgo those trials if we selected him. The well produced videos from the University of Portland show that he isn't afraid to mix it up, has some quality in delivering set pieces into dangerous areas and likes to get into the area to support the attack. All of those are qualities I like.
The next pick that I think could be a big one for RSL is the big 6' 4" defender Chris Schuler, he could be an impact player and looks to add depth to the RSL central defenders. I am not sure about the 2nd round pick of Justin Davis, Garth tweeted that he was a left back but everything in his info online says he is a midfield/forward players, so it could be interesting.
more thoughts (including notes from the just complete conference call) after the jump
So the first note is a clarification on the two trades, the first trade was RSL sending our rights to Clint Mathis and the 16th pick to LA for the 15th pick. Later we made a deal to trade our 3rd round 2011 pick to LA for their 3rd round 2010 pick.
So Garth noted that the team went into the draft with a list of 12 players that could make a difference for RSL and knowing that with Clint's request to go to LA (to be closer to his family) that we would need a 2-way midfielder and they hoped that Collen would be there. They had a conversation with him about forgoing his two trials in Europe if we drafted him (he had turned down the MLS request to sign before the draft), and he agreed. It was interesting that Garth mentioned that playing for the Champions was a point of note in their conversation.
Next up was Justin Davis and the questions about what position does he play, he played all of 2009 as a forward but had played a couple years as a left footed defender, he played left back at the combine and when interviewed Justin thought his best position in the MLS would be left back. The team likes his size 6' 0" and his speed, I like a defender who knows what to do with the ball around the goal.
The 3rd round pick of Chris Schuler came about because LA asked us if there was a player we wanted to get this year and we would swap picks with them, it was mentioned that Schuler was projected by some to be a first round pick, so when he was still there we made the deal. Garth mentioned that Bruce Arena said he thought Chris would have gone in the first round as well. Garth said he was the best center back at the combine and he is big and athletic in the mold of a Jamison Olave (those are big boots to fill).
It was mentioned that RSL played the season last year with just 6 defenders and the move to pick up 3 defenders with our 4 picks shows that we will likely be increasing that number as the busy 2010 schedule will likely take a toll on all the positions. Jason mentioned there are still a few players from the recent trip to Argentina that the team is interested in but that will be decided later on, he also said the team now will look for a replacement for Yura, but they didn't feel that they could get one in the draft.
I still think the draft system is the wrong way to go for MLS, but without anything to replace it, I don't expect it to go away anytime soon. I am hopeful that Warner will be able to make an impact and get some playing time for RSL, Garth was very impressed with his physical abilities and after watching some video of him, I think he might just be a keeper. For the others, only time will tell. It will be interesting to see how the pundits grade the RSL draft, but when you are the defending Champions, do you really need a lot of pieces to improve your team?
I would RSL a B if I were grading the draft, they showed a willingness to make a couple trades to ensure they got the players they wanted, including a guy in the 3rd round that even Bruce Arena thought was a first round quality guy.
This is what the RSL roster looks like heading into the preseason:
# Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Birthdate
12 Jean Alexandre MF 5-11 185 08/24/1986
-- Kris Banghart DF 6-1 190 03/01/1988
5 Kyle Beckerman MF 5-11 165 04/23/1982
2 Tony Beltran DF 5-8 150 10/11/1987
6 Nat Borchers DF 6-2 175 04/13/1981
19 Pablo Campos FW 6-3 200 11/29/1983
23 Raphael Cox MF 5-6 140 07/07/1986
-- Justin Davis DF 6-0 170 05/06/1988
21 Rachid El Khalifi M/F 5-10 156 06/16/1979
16 Fabian Espíndola FW 5-9 160 05/04/1985
10 Robbie Findley FW 5-9 165 08/04/1985
22 Nelson González M/F 5-6 156 09/22/1988
20 Ned Grabavoy MF 5-7 150 07/01/1983
33 David Horst DF 6-4 200 10/25/1985
8 Will Johnson MF 5-10 155 01/21/1987
11 Javier Morales MF 5-9 165 01/10/1980
7 Alex Nimo MF 5-5 135 03/21/1990
25 Tino Nuñez FW 5-8 185 08/22/1984
4 Jamison Olave DF 6-3 210 04/21/1981
24 Kyle Reynish GK 6-3 190 11/03/1983
18 Nick Rimando GK 5-9 185 06/17/1979
3 Robbie Russell DF 6-1 200 07/16/1979
-- Chris Schuler DF 6-4 185 09/06/1987
-- Abe Thompson FW 6-0 170 01/12/1982
-- Collen Warner MF 5-10 170 06/24/1988
77 Andy Williams MF 5-8 170 09/23/1977
17 Chris Wingert DF 5-11 170 06/16/1982
OFF MY SOAPBOX