We’re now t-minus two weeks to the 2009 MLS draft and I wanted to take some time to explore what teams need what as we enter the most busy part of MLS “silly season.” Of course, not all the needs I mention will be able to be filled by draftees, but it’s during the period before, during, and after the draft when many needs can get filled whether through the draft, or through deals. So I am trying to take all those into account here.
Today, I go over the Western Conference. On Monday, I’ll go through the East.
Chivas USA – So has Francisco Mendoza headed back to the “mother ship” in Guadalajara or not? Is that official? If so, that’s a big hole in the center of the field they’ll need to fill and if Sasha Kljestan also heads abroad, that hole becomes an absolute chasm. Another obvious hole is in goal. Is supplemental draftee Dan Kennedy the keeper of the future? It certainly isn’t no. 2 Zach Thornton. With pick no. 9 in the first round, they can probably be confident of getting one of the better members of what Buzz calls a deep goalkeeping class. Biggest needs: GK, MF
Colorado – Oy.. where does one start here? Colorado is its usual mix of mediocrity, and thanks for their deal for Christian Gomez, they’re now without a first round pick this year and a designated player. Not picking until no. 20 in round two, it’s hard to say exactly what they’ll be able to fill at this point. Befitting the organization’s long history of cheapness, I haven’t heard Colorado linked with anybody from at home or abroad. They’re nowhere near competing for silverware at this point, but who knows how interested they are in doing that? If they wanted to go young and do a full ground-up rebuild, they have the trade bait to do so with guys like Mastroeni, Cooke, and Gomez. I suspect they won’t even bother to do that. I guess I’d argue that they could use some young attacking talent, but by pick 20, I suspect they’ll be hard-pressed to find much. Biggest needs: A plan
Dallas – Okay, I am operating under the assumption that Cooper will not make it through the summer without being signed by a European team. If I were Dallas, I’d sell him now to try to capitalize on the time and availability of cap money to find a good replacement before the season starts. This being an HSG-owned club, they’re probably hanging on to him in a thinly-veiled attempt to sell more season tickets and sponsorships before letting him go during the summer window. Making this situation even more interesting is that they have two picks in the first round (5, 11) and two more in the second. That gives them room to deal or room to get younger. If ownership is serious about contending, they are in a position to make the moves to do so. Could a proven forward be available in a draft-day trade for a draft pick or two? Or, is their inability to go after Appiah a sign of an organization not serious about contending? Regardless, they’re going to need a forward (or two) to even come close to replacing Cooper’s output. Biggest need: FWD
Houston – Is the run of success over in Houston? Is it rebuilding time? At least, unlike some of the teams above, you know they’re legitimately interested in contending. Making the Dynamo’s job even harder is the fact that they don’t have a 2009 pick until round three. But, if they’re going to blow the squad up and start over (and, to be fair, we haven’t heard too many rumblings of that) they do have a few more veterans that could be targets of teams willing to shed 1st and 2nd round picks. If they’re not going to blow the squad up, look for Houston to chase after replacements for De Rosario and Boswell (if he goes). Biggest needs: draft picks (if rebuilding), MF and DF (if not)
Los Angeles – This is the easiest answer on here. They need defenders. They needs lots of them. They also need them to be Generation Adidas so they don’t count against the cap. I suspect that Arena goes for Omar Gonzalez of Maryland with the no. 3 pick and also looks to trade a vet or two (Vanney or Lewis, perhaps?) for another pick in rounds 1-2. Biggest Need: DF
RSL: If any team in the league is one piece away from complete title contention, it’s RSL. It’s too bad the part they’re missing won’t come in the draft, because they’re not going to find a proven double-figure goalscorer with the no. 12 pick. That said, Real is really in a position to help itself here with a pick that contributes while not costing too much. I always say how it’s those high-value guys who can make a difference in reaching cup finals and bombing out early and I think RSL has positioned itself extremely well for a run. That said, that position won’t mean anything if they can’t go and get a proven goalscorer. If it means trading this pick, I might even be in favor of it. Hopefully, a GA defender will drop to them and help bolster a defense that leaked a few too many goals last season. Biggest Need: FW, DF
San Jose – This team screams out for a creative midfielder. It’s going to take some creativity for them to get one now that they’ve apparently signed Mark Birchill from Coventry and they don’t have a pick until early in round 2. I suspect that even if they keep the pick, they still need to sure up the midfield which is starting to look at bit old. Still, I don’t think the front office is regretting trading that 2009 first rounder and ending up with Alvarez? Biggest need: MF
Seattle – Well, like expansion teams, they need just about everything. Let’s start with what they don’t need, a starting goalkeeper, a fragile winger with a penchant for underwear modeling, and big over-6 foot strikers. I’ve already said here that I’d go with a central defender here and look for your franchise’s anchor for the medium to long term. They could also use some speed on attack. Maybe they think they can find the next Robbie Findlay with that first pick in the 2nd round? Biggest need: DF, FW (with speed)