Apr 26, 2012, 4:35 PM EST
Anyone can pick a Darlington Nagbe, an Andrew Wenger or a Perry Kitchen, some of the no-brainers of recent Major League Soccer drafts. But who can kick over the rocks and reach into the dark, lint-covered nooks and crannies to find that lanky midfielder from Rhode Island – who just might one day suit up at center back for Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team?
From the last five MLS drafts, here are the best finds found after 30 picks.
(Ranked in order, based on my own highly subjective, completely non-scientific assessments):
1. Geoff Cameron, No. 42 in 2008 to Houston: A little-known midfielder out of Rhode Island became a serviceable midfielder for Houston – then got to be an elite-level center back almost by accident. Now Cameron is walking the fringes of Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team pool, not so far from busting his way into solid top-18 status.
2. Joao Plata, No. 49 in 2011 to Toronto: Not much has gone right around BMO Field over the years, but Aron Winter and staff nailed this one, picking the diminutive Ecuadorian near the end of the third round. He had 3 goals and 5 assists as a rookie last year.
3. Sean Johnson, No. 51 in 2010 to Chicago: Came out of nowhere in 2010 but quickly opened eyes with quality starts at Toyota Park. Johnson soon became a member of the national team brat pack as Bob Bradley, and then Klinsmann, began long-range planning for Tim Howard’s eventual retirement.
4. Joe Willis, No. 50 in 2011 to D.C. United: It took an injury to Bill Hamid to put a spotlight on the St. Louis native, but he’s sure exploiting the opportunity with a series of skillful, composed starts in goal at RFK.
5. Danny Cruz, No. 41 in 2009 to Houston: Never quite made himself a fixture for Dominic Kinnear at Houston, but he’s making people take notice this year with lots of hustle and bustle up and down the right side for D.C. United.
6. Eric Alexander, No. 44 in 2010, Dallas: Was a valuable part of Dallas’ 2010 MLS runner-up squad and still apparently a wanted-man around the league, as Portland has recently fended off trade inquiries.
7. Ben Zemanski, No. 47 in 2010 to Chivas USA: A part-time starter as a rookie, the University of Akron product (one of many lately) has been a part-time starter, at least, since then his late 2010 selection.
8. Ryan Meara, No. 31 in 2012 to New York: It may be a little early yet to proclaim this a big draft-day steal, but the early returns in Meara’s rookie season at Red Bull Arena look promising enough.
9. Darrius Barnes, No. 40 in 2009 to New England: Started 72 games over his first three MLS seasons – not bad at all, even if the team around him wasn’t very good.
10. Chris Schuler, No. 39 in 2010 to RSL: It’s hard to get games when Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers are in the way, but Schuler never looks out of his element when asked to fill in. He’s already made 21 starts for Jason Kreis.
11. Shaun Francis, No. 63 in 2010 to Columbus: A part-time starter for two years at Crew Stadium who has become the first choice at left back in 2012.
12. Kyle Nagazawa, No. 33 in 2010 to Philadelphia: Played valuable minutes last year for Peter Nowak’s side but then went to Los Angeles in a winter trade. Probably would have logged more minutes there already but for Juninho’s surprise return to the HDC just before 2012 season kickoff.
Dec 4, 2013, 9:38 AM EST
Rodney Marsh not exactly showering praise on current Fulham stars.
Dec 4, 2013, 8:48 AM EST
Oh, mid-week League play, how you move us…
Dec 4, 2013, 7:39 AM EST
After the Belgian striker suggested he could stay at Everton permanently, his Chelsea boss reminds all who makes the decisions. Meanwhile, Spanish reports suggest Tata Martino is watching.
Dec 3, 2013, 11:58 PM EST
Hint: NBC analyst Kyle Martino doesn’t believe the case for chance is compelling enough:
Dec 3, 2013, 11:05 PM EST
Playoffs or no playoffs, the goal should be the same. And in that light, MLS has done fine in 2013.
Some interesting names to discuss as Toronto FC declines contract options on several notable veterans
Dec 3, 2013, 10:18 PM EST
Bobby Convey, Stefan Frei and Robert Earnshaw among those not being brought back to BMO Field:
Dec 3, 2013, 8:22 PM EST
For Don Garber, there is no secret to this recipe; it’s about the right ownership group with (urban area) stadium plan:
Dec 3, 2013, 7:58 PM EST
In a word, “horse trading” … which means looking for games to play in 2014:
Dec 3, 2013, 7:29 PM EST
So, now we are showing them to you:
About that radical MLS calendar shift to a “winter” league: MLS commissioner Don Garber says it’s not happening soon
Dec 3, 2013, 6:50 PM EST
Absolutely, positively not for 2014, Garber reiterated on Tuesday:
Dec 3, 2013, 6:20 PM EST
We focus on the worst scenarios, but in 2010, fortune shined on the U.S. Whether it happens again, the States may be due for a tough draw.
Dec 3, 2013, 5:35 PM EST
How MLS players, club leaders and media members voted … and some thoughts on where the voting might be a little off:
Crystal Palace 1-0 West Ham United: Eagles protect first half goal, take first win under Pulis (video)
Dec 3, 2013, 4:57 PM EST
A late first half converted corner held up for Palace, who claimed their first win since Tony Pulis’s appointment.
Dec 3, 2013, 4:37 PM EST
FIFA World Rankings haters may have something to celebrate. Then again, ignoring the rankings for the nine-team problem may mean nothing.
Dec 3, 2013, 4:05 PM EST
You know who’s in. You know the pots. Here’s how it will go down:
Dec 3, 2013, 3:26 PM EST
Garber hopes to see a specific proposal soon, but it’s not there yet:
Dec 3, 2013, 2:21 PM EST
The Premier League’s mid-week match day kicks off at 3 p.m. Eastern with Crystal Palace vs. West Ham at Selhurst Park.
Dec 3, 2013, 2:15 PM EST
Fellaini is different. A late developer, he has only recently acquired a mastery of his gangly limbs and goofy gait.
Dec 3, 2013, 1:50 PM EST
Is it possible the United States could be drawn into the most deathly Group of Death yet? It certainly is … :
Dec 3, 2013, 1:01 PM EST
Can’t you just see the Eyebrowless Wonder gazing around with a look of complete bewilderment during the post-match interview?
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