Skip to content

How MLS clubs rank in recent draft-day performance

Apr 26, 2012, 11:17 AM EDT

Real Salt Lake Fabian Espindola battles Los Angeles Galaxy Omar Gonzalez for the ball during their MLS western conference playoff soccer game in Carson, California

With the NFL draft today, let’s not miss the opportunity to talk draft in soccer.

Clearly, this is a different animal. In professional football the college draft represents a far larger piece of the overall personnel acquisition equation. Soccer’s international transfer market, plus the emerging domestic academy system, significantly diminishes Major League Soccer’s SuperDraft as a means of collecting talent.

Still, the SuperDraft can certainly be an important part of the puzzle.  Omar Gonzalez (pictures), Tim Ream, Chris Pontius, Brek Shea, Joao Plata, Geoff Cameron, Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Teal Bunbury, Zach Loyd are among the quality players plucked in drafts over the last five seasons.

So, here are my rankings of how each club has performed on draft day over the last five years, and how the clubs have performed on draft day over the last three years.

Team ranks over last five years (includes only clubs that drafted each year from 2008 forward):

  • T-1. D.C. United
  • T-1. FC Dallas
  • 3. Sporting Kansas City
  • T-4. L.A. Galaxy
  • T-4. New England
  • T-4. Toronto FC
  • 7. San Jose
  • T-8. Chicago
  • T-8. Chivas USA
  • 10. Houston
  • 11. Real Salt Lake
  • 12. Colorado

Team ranks last three years (includes only clubs that drafted each year from 2010 forward):

  • 1. Philadelphia
  • T-2. New England
  • T-2. New York
  • T-4. Chivas USA
  • T-4. Columbus
  • T-6. D.C. United
  • T-6. FC Dallas
  • 8. Toronto FC
  • T-9. Chicago
  • T-9. L.A. Galaxy
  • T-9. San Jose
  • T-9. Seattle
  • 13. Sporting Kansas City
  • T-14. Colorado
  • T-14. Real Salt Lake
  • 16. Houston

How I arrived at the rankings was fairly simple and a little less subjective than you might think:

Each draftee who stuck around was assigned a point value of (1). Each draftee who became a starter for any stretch of time got a (2). Each draftee that became a solid starter and valuable member of a team (in many cases, by the way, it was a different team) was assigned a (3). Star men like Ream or Gonzalez got a (4).

In each case, the point value was assigned to the team that drafted them.

You’ll notice that drafting high in the order has been a reliable predictor of success over the last few years. So, teams that haven’t done well in the standings lately tended to clump near the top.

I’ll have a few more notes from recent drafts on another post, in about an hour.