Tomorrow at 9am PST, the 2011 MLS SuperDraft will kick off. Shortly after we will officially have what could be one of our most important players for the upcoming season. The only question now is, who could is possibly be?
If you've at all been following this blog, you'll know that I have, twice now, selected Perry Kitchen as our first round #2 pick in the SuperDraft due to the assumption that Vancouver will probably take Nagbe as their #1 pick. At this point, despite Nagbe's stock going down a bit by not attending the Combine games, he is still considered to be the best player in the draft by most pundits (the rest usually side with Kitchen). Anyway, that all but seemed like a lock prior to the Combine games, but now? Well let's take a look at each individual player:
Heading into this past weekend, nobody was giving Nagbe much hope of making it passed Vancouver's first pick. However, his decision to forgo the Combine games has notably hurt his chances with Vancouver, whose head coach has come out and stated as such. Additionally, a wild rumor has come out, care of the OregonLive, that stated Nagbe doesn't want to play for Vancouver and would prefer to stay in the United States. Is it true? Who knows, but the damage has been caused at this point and Vancouver may well be looking at other options now given the rumor.
So could we end up with Nagbe? If he's available I absolutely believe he would be Portland's pick. He a strong forward who could make an immediate impact on the team like Mwanga, and Zakuani for their respective teams before him.
While I'd have said prior to this week that Nagbe's chance of ending up in Portland was fairly slim, today I'm looking up at the possibility. Of course, Vancouver could still grab him to use as a trade, something that would give them a huge leveraging tool so I wouldn't get your hopes up too high.
I chose him, the Dropping Timbers guys are choosing him, Timbers Insider reporter Kelly McClain is choosing him. Bottomline, we all believe that Kitchen is the most likely choice for the Timbers at this point. While our midfield and defensive positions are a little crowded at this point Kitchen is, by far, the best player in the SuperDraft after Nagbe, this making him the logical pick for the Timbers.
Of course, rumor has it DC might be willing to trade Vancouver for their #1 spot in which case Kitchen might be better served at the D.C. United than Nagbe. For those of you who missed the 2010 season, DC United had a terrible season with a terrible backline that allowed an embarrassing number of goals. Slotting Kitchen into the backline would provide a versatile speedy defender who is easily MLS quality at his young age today.
Still, I maintain my opinion that Kitchen will probably be the logical choice for the Timbers. Even if we don't necessarily have room for him, Kitchen could easily be traded for another top-quality player.
Finally, we come to Omar Salgado, the striker everybody wanted a few months ago, but has seemingly lost a bit of stock to Nagbe and Kitchen leading up to the SuperDraft. While I haven't chosen him specifically for any of my own picks, he still has a few fans in Portland, namely Mao from the Timbers Offside and Mao's Football Show (fantastic).
I suppose what's so tempting about Omar is the exact thing that makes me hesitant to select him. He's got such raw talent and he's easily capable of making an impact on an MLS team soon. However, he seems to be of the mind that MLS is just the gateway to Europe, and Europe has already come knocking once. This leads me to believe that Salgado could be here for a couple years before he leaves. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to have my players stick around for as long as possible, contributing and building the team.
Sure, Kitchen and Nagbe could just as easily head to Europe sooner or later, but with them I don't feel the urgency that Salgado might have. I say let another team train hm and sell him. For 2011, we should really be focusing on a long term team.
Just because the former three players are the most likely choice for Portland doesn't mean that there aren't others in the running. The Combine games have come and gone and both Spencer and Wilkinson have shared with us their impressions of some key players.
Zac MacMath, Zarek Valentine and Kofi Sarkodie were all mentioned by Spencer and could be surprise upsets if they impressed enough at the Combine games. Who knows? Perhaps the Timbers would see value in establishing a fantastic second goalkeeper in Zac MacMath, or a couple of solid subs in Valentine and Sarkodie? While unlikely, these players were indeed called out by Spencer so, at this point, I'd say it's a definite possibility.
Finally, let us not forget about Rooney (yes, that Rooney). While I'd say Rooney would be the longshot of the longshots out there, I wouldn't discount him right off the bat for a couple of reasons:
- Few players increased their stock at the Combine games like Rooney did. He came out, got a couple goals, played with his heart and generally impressed most who watched the game. While this alone isn't really enough to get him in the top 5 picks, it certainly didn't hurt.
- Marketing. Everybody knows Rooney. While he may not be Wayne, John is certainly held up to his regard and that kind of marketing is something you can't buy. Beyond that, having John in the squad could be seen as a great "in" to get Manchester United to play friendlies with the team which could be a huge money generator.
Again, I would like to stress that I see Rooney as a beyond outside pick for the Timbers. It just doesn't make much sense. Then again, if the Expansion Draft proved anything it's that the Timbers like making surprises.
Anybody else you feel is a possible #2 SuperDraft pick for the Timbers? Sound off below!