Aside from grabbing their first-choice player in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft, it’s every club’s hope that they can find that late-round gem who will go on to do great things and become a massive contributor to their team.
It doesn’t always work out that way, as we’ve seen, but there are plenty of MLS regulars who have been snatched up later on in the drafts. For our purposes, we’re only counting players who were drafted past the second round — including all Supplemental Draft picks.
With rounds three and four of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft upon us, we present you with a list of arguably the top five late-round draft picks of all time.
5. Davy Arnaud - Kansas City Wizards
(2002 SuperDraft, round five, #50 overall)
Arnaud, drafted out of West Texas A&M University, was Kansas City’s fourth overall pick, and was the first pick in the fifth of six rounds. In his rookie year, he only played a total of 43 minutes in three games. He began to pick up steam in his second year, scoring three goals through 18 games.
As we all know, Arnaud went on to become a legend not only in Kansas City but in MLS altogether. Although he spent the bulk of his career in Kansas City, he went on to play two years each for Montreal and DC United before he retired at the end of the 2015 season, boasting 50 goals, 46 assists, and 351 total regular-season games played in his 14-year career.
4. Kevin Hartman - Los Angeles Galaxy
(1997 College Draft, round three, #29 overall)
With only three total rounds and 30 total picks in the 1997 MLS College Draft, the LA Galaxy selected Kevin Hartman with the second-to-last pick overall. He was the third goalkeeper taken overall in the draft, and I can’t imagine LA expected him to go on to become one of the greatest goalkeepers in MLS history. Hartman spent a decade with the Galaxy, winning Goalkeeper of the Year and two MLS Cup titles during his tenure there.
He went on to play for Kansas City (2007-2009, 90 appearances), FC Dallas (2010-2012, 83 appearances), and spent his last year with the New York Red Bulls where he saw no playing time.
During his impressive 17-year career, he became the first player in MLS history to play and start in over 400 regular season games, and was the holder of the all-time shutout and all-time win records until those were broken by our very own Nick Rimando. He still the all-time saves record holder, though that will be challenged by Rimando in the upcoming season.
Hartman announced his retirement in November of 2013, and has gone down as one of the greatest of all time.
3. Michael Bradley - New York/New Jersey MetroStars
(2004 SuperDraft, round four, #36 overall)
Many questioned the motives of then-MetroStars coach Bob Bradley when he drafted his 16-year-old son in 2004, but those doubts have long been put to rest. Missing out on his entire rookie season due to a foot injury, Michael Bradley didn’t make an impact until 2005, when he locked down a starting spot, played 30 games and scored one goal. He went on to play for several teams overseas, uncluding SC Heerenveen, Borussia Monchengladbach, Aston Villa, Chievo, and AS Roma, making a total of 218 appearances and scoring 29 goals in his nearly nine years spent in Europe.
Not to mention the 126 caps, 15 goals, and two World Cups under his belt with the US Men’s National Team, Bradley has done alright for himself. Currently holding down a Designated Player spot at Toronto FC, and a large part of TFC’s recent success, the 29-year-old has plenty of great years ahead of him.
2. Nick Rimando - Miami Fusion
(2000 SuperDraft, round three, #35 overall)
A name that some of us might be familiar with, Rimando has already gone down as the greatest goalkeeper in MLS history, and the 37-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down. Drafted by the Miami Fusion in the second-to-last pick of the third round, Rimando quickly stole the starting position from Jeff Cassar, starting 22 games in his rookie season and 25 the next year. He was selected by DC United in the 2002 Allocation Draft, and ended up playing a total of 98 games over four years before he was traded to Real Salt Lake.
Since 2007 in an RSL uniform, Nick has truly secured his spot in MLS history, winning an MLS Cup title, and surpassing Kevin Hartman’s records within the last couple of years. Rimando now holds almost every goalkeeping record that MLS has to offer, leading in games played (424), games started (424), minutes played (38,313), wins (183), and shutouts (129). He still trails Hartman in all-time saves by 20 (1454), but Nick has plenty of time left to catch him there, too.
On top of all that, he’s the clear king of penalty kick saves, outsmarting 19 opponents in the regular season and 8 more in playoff shootouts, saving a total of 29 penalty kicks so far in his career.
Somehow, Rimando has yet to earn an MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award, although he came close in 2013 when he finished second behind Portland ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts. Regardless of that fact, Nick has already solidified his spot as the greatest goalkeeper in MLS history, and he’ll continue to terrify his opponents during the 2017 season.
1. Chris Wondolowski - San Jose Earthquakes
(2005 Supplemental Draft, round four, #89 overall)
The latest pick in our list, coming at number 89 overall (41st in the Supplemental Draft), Wondo didn’t even make it in the SuperDraft — he had to wait until the last round of the Supplemental Draft in 2005 to hear his name be called. Along with a few other names from that same round (Dan Kennedy, Jeff Larentowicz, Dan Gargan), he clearly has gone on to have a long and successful career. Wondo has essentially been with the same club his entire MLS career, including San Jose’s move and rebranding to Houston in 2006, and his trade back to San Jose in 2009 after they re-entered the league.
Wondo is one of the highest-scoring players in MLS history, coming at fourth with 121 total. However, he’s the only player in the top eight that’s still active, barring a Landon Donovan return in 2017. Sitting only 24 goals behind the record-holding Donovan, it’s very likely that the 33-year-old will finish on top in the record books by the time his career is done. He also scored 27 goals in the 2012 season, which ties him with Roy Lassiter (1996) for the most goals scored by a player in a single season.
Not to mention his 35 caps and 11 goals with the US Men’s National Team, Wondo’s career has been a long and fruitful one, and is far from over.