As most of you probably already know, Sporting Kansas City forward CJ Sapong was named the 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year today. And while it was obviously an award well deserved for the 22 year old, former James Madison University star, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at what many of the media were saying about Sporting KC's selection of Sapong with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.
The general consensus? Sapong was a reach for KC. Now, after a season in which Sapong dominated much of the MLS Rookie of the Year talk, it's safe to say Sporting KC probably selected the steal of the first round.
A look back at the 10 players selected at the top of this year's SuperDraft:
1. Vancouver Whitecaps- Omar Salgado, F2. Portland Timbers- Darlington Nagbe, M3. D.C. United- Perry Kitchen, D4. Chivas USA- Zarek Valentin, D5. Philadelphia Union- Zac MacMath, GK6. New England Revolution- AJ Soares, D7. Houston Dynamo- Kofi Sarkodie, D8. Vancouver Whitecaps (via Toronto)- Michael Nanchoff, M9. Chicago Fire- Jalil Anibaba, D10.Sporting KC- CJ Sapong, F
Obviously, a few of these guys made a pretty big impact for their respective clubs. Kitchen, MacMath, Nagbe, and Soares all had very good rookie campaigns, but Sapong was still able to outdo them all, finishing the regular season with five goals, and five assists, as well as playing in every single Sporting KC match this season. His five goals were good enough to tie with Houston rookie Will Bruin for most among rookies, and his five assists led all first-year players.
Probably no one could have predicted the type of impact Sapong would have for a Sporting KC team that already had a number of threatening options at the forward position, but after CJ's breakout 2011 campaign, much of the media appear to be the ones who were most in the dark about the potential CJ had.
After the jump, I've compiled a few articles from various sports websites, and what they were saying about Kansas City's selection of Sapong. It appears most of them liked CJ as a player, but either didn't feel he was worth that high of a draft pick, or that he wasn't a good choice given the talent at the top of KC's lineup. Needless to say, it's enjoyable to read now, given the fact that Kansas City's #17 has added a MLS Rookie of the Year Award to his resume.
Passing on Bruin at No. 10 to select combine darling C.J. Sapong was a major reach, even though the James Madison striker's pace could be a valuable asset on the wings of Kansas City's 4-3-3 formation.
It was a little surprising that Sapong (10th overall) went before fellow strikers Will Bruin and Corey Hertzog. But Sapong is a great athlete and, when partnered with some combination of Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara and Ryan Smith, will mean a lot of speed and power on the front line at that new stadium in the Midwest.
At first glance, the selection of forward C.J. Sapong seems solid enough, especially given his strength and ability with his back to the goal. But given the glut of forwards currently occupying the Kansas City roster -- a group that includes Omar Bravo, Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara -- it's difficult to see how Sapong will see the field, making his selection puzzling. Manager Peter Vermes did take some steps toward shoring up the back line with the selection of Louisville left back J.T. Murray while also adding Ohio State midfielder Konrad Warzycha, who is the son of Columbus coach Robert Warzycha.
The former Wizards tried trading down but wound up taking a forward they really liked in James Madison striker C.J. Sapong, a player widely-regarded as a second-round value. Sapong could fit in well with Sporting KC’s 4-3-3 attack. While Sapong was a reach, K.C. found good value in the latter rounds, with promising left back J.T. Murray (Louisville) and Ohio State midfielder Konrad Warzycha, son of Columbus Crew head coach Robert Warzycha.
This pick seemed like a reach on a number of levels. First, with higher-regarded Generation adidas strikers like Bruin and Hertzog still on the board, Sapong wasn't the best player at his position left. Second, adding a forward was not the biggest priority for SKC, which already has Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara and Omar Bravo. That said, Sapong brings pace to the wing and could be a decent player on the outside of a 4-3-3.