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Looking Back: Reviewing Picks 31 and Beyond

Our final installment assessing six years worth of MLS SuperDraft selections.

Warren Creavalle. Solid pick. Even more solid high top fade.
Warren Creavalle. Solid pick. Even more solid high top fade.

We finish our review with players selected 31st through 38th in the 2007 through 2012 SuperDrafts. This review will stop at the 38th pick since it is the final selection of the 2013 SuperDraft, but will note some great selections that occurred in rounds that no longer exist in our final post of this series. You can check out the rest in our MLS SuperDraft Review story stream. The team that drafted the player is shown in parenthesis.

#31 Pick

2007 Omar Cummings (Colorado)
2008 Ryan Miller (Columbus)
2009 Jared Karkas (Seattle)
2010 Zak Boggs (New England)
2011 Chris Korb (DC United)
2012 Ryan Meara (New York)

Omar Cummings converted 39 goals and 27 assists in his time with the Rapids and started on the 2011 MLS All-Star team. He was just traded to Houston. Miller and Karkas never played in regular season. Zak Boggs played 29 games as a Midfielder/Forward for the Revs, but terminated his contract early after receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to study Cancer Cell and Molecular Biology in England. Chris Korb may have worked his way into the starting fullback position at DC United as Daniel Woolard recovers from injuries. Per wikipedia, Ryan Meara is "a talented goalkeeper who has a physical resemblance to NBA legend Larry Bird." While true, his doppelganger status is not as important as his solid performance between the posts prior to his injury.

Best Pick: Omar Cummings. Props to Boggs though, the guy is trying to find a cure for cancer.

#32 Pick

2007 Jay Needham (DC United)
2008 Luke Sassano (New York)
2009 Quincy Amarikwa (San Jose)
2010 Justin Davis (Real Salt Lake)
2011 J. T. Murray (Sporting KC)
2012 Greg Jordan (Philadelphia)

Greg Jordan is still on Philadelphia's roster. Luke Sassano played in 47 games for New York and Sporting KC before being release in June, and he has a sandwich named after him. Quincy has put together a solid if uninspiring career, but I doubt he has a sandwich named after him. Jay Needham has an unfortunate last name for someone if they wanted a sandwich named after themselves, otherwise he's another draft pick who never played in MLS. J.T. Murray and Justin Davis also didn't pan out in MLS.

Best Pick: Luke Sassano. With extra prosciutto.

#33 Pick

2007 Sinisa Ubiparipovic (New York)
2008 Ryan Cordeiro (DC United)
2009 Joshua Boateng (LA Galaxy)
2010 Kyle Nakazawa (Philadelphia)
2011 Anthony Ampaipitakwong (San Jose)
2012 Chris Blais (San Jose)

Sinisa has been a back-up in the league, aside from an NASL stint with the Impact in 2011. Cordeiro played in 7 MLS games. Boateng never played but is now in the first division in Finland. Nakazawa is now a backup for the Galaxy. Ampaipitakwong had a pair of assists in a 2011 game against Chivas, but has now moved to the Thai Premier League. Blais was released.

Best Pick: Sinisa Ubiparipovic.

#34 Pick

2007 Mike Banner (Chicago)
2008 Matt Allen (LA Galaxy)
2009 Mike Grella (Toronto FC)
2010 Conor Chinn (New York)
2011 Héctor Jiménez (LA Galaxy)
2012 Babayele Sodade (Seattle)

Allen did not play, Sodade has not played yet. Chinn played in five games, scoring a brace against Philadelphia in a USOC qualifier. Banner was a back-up for Chicago for four years and is now in Finland. Mike Grella has spent most of his career in English League One (the third tier in the English system). Jiménez started thirteen games for the Galaxy during the summer.

Best Pick: Héctor Jiménez

#35 Pick

2007 Nick LaBrocca (Colorado)
2008 Joseph Lapira (Toronto FC)
2009 Kyle Christensen (Chivas USA)
2010 Kevin Tangney (Chivas USA)
2011 Charlie Campbell (Dallas)
2012 Ray Gaddis (Philadelphia)

Ray Gaddis was a good pick-up for the Union last year, but Nick LaBrocca has had a better career this year before running into the goal-sapping morass that is Chivas USA.

Best Pick: Nick LaBrocca.

#36 Pick

2007 Justin Hughes (Colorado)
2008 Adrian Chevannes (Colorado)
2009 Brandon Barklage (DC United)
2010 Nick Cardenas (KC Wizards)
2011 Colin Givens (Colorado)
2012 Sebastián Velásquez (Real Salt Lake)

Hmm... the often-injured Barklage emerged with 2 goals and 4 assists this past summer, but I'm intrigued by the talent (and hair) of RSL JUCO pick-up Velasquez. This is a potential pick, and very late in the draft.

Best Pick: Sebastián Velásquez.

#37 Pick

2007 Ricky Schramm (DC United)
2008 Brennan Tennelle (Real Salt Lake)
2009 Steward Ceus (Colorado)
2010 Andrew Hoxie (San Jose)
2011 Bilal Duckett (Vancouver)
2012 Warren Creavalle (Houston)

If we take Sounders complaints that GAA should be the ultimate determination of who deserves MLS Goalkeeper of the year, than little-used Steward Ceus should be given the award, having allowed 1 goal in 201 minutes of play at the tail end of the season (90 of those minutes came against Chivas USA so I don't know if that really counts). Warren Creavalle made multiple starts for the Dynamo as a defender. When in doubt, assume Dom Kinnear knows what he's doing when he's assembling a back line.

Best Pick unless you're a Sounders Fan: Warrenn Creavalle.

#38 Pick

2007 Bryan Byrne (New England)
2008 Dwight Barnett (Chicago)
2009 Chris Salvaggione (New England)
2010 Jason Yeisley (Dallas)
2011 Billy Cortes (New York)
2012 Kenney Walker (LA Galaxy)

Kenney "Sky" Walker had a great career with the Knicks in the late '80s, hopefully he can provide the Union some of that presence in the paint. Seriously, he and Byrne have logged one game a piece. Yeisley played five games. I'll go with the youngest guy.

Best Pick: Kenney Walker.

After a disappointing showing between picks 11-20 and 21-30, picks 31-38 appear more in line with expectations: a few busts, a lot of back ups and short careers, plus a few regular starters.

Best picks from SuperDraft rounds that no longer exist:

The MLS SuperDraft has shrunk in size from four rounds in 2007-2010, to three rounds in 2011, to the two rounds and 38 picks of the 2012 and 2013 SuperDraft. There are a few players that excelled in these additional rounds, including Danny Cruz (2009 Pick 41), Geoff Cameron (2008 Pick 42), Tally Hall (2007 Pick 44), Mike Fucito (2009 Pick 46), Steven Lenhart (2008 Pick 48), and Sean Johnson (2011 Pick 51).

This is where things get weird: these SuperDraft rounds no longer exist, but they do exist. These removed rounds were just added to the MLS Supplemental Draft, meaning the number of drafted players remains largely the same as before. What's the difference between the Supplemental Draft and the SuperDraft? The Supplemental Draft is held a few days after the SuperDraft and held with much less fanfare. Otherwise, the league doesn't acknowledge any significant differences between either draft.

Final Assessment

On the whole, 115 players selected in the first 38 picks from the 2007-2012 SuperDrafts played in the 2012 MLS Regular Season. Their performance in the league directly related to where they were picked in the SuperDraft:


The bars measure the total number of players who logged any minutes in the 2012 MLS Regular Season, the graph measures the average Castrol Index Ranking of those players who logged any minutes. The Castrol Index attempts to quantify the productivity and efficiency of a player while they are on the field, and does take into account the total number of minutes played. While the Castrol Ranking does have its drawbacks, it is a fair method of taking a broad assessment of performance from a group of players.

The higher a player was picked, the more likely they are to have played in the league this past year. The Castrol Index discovers an interesting wrinkle in that after the top 10 picks, the performance of players between picks 11-38 is largely the same.

Compare this to the NFL draft, where a study by Niners Nation found that "as the NFL draft proceeds, there's a steep decline from the expected performance of the 1st pick to that of the 65th; but after that there's only a gradual decline over the next 200 picks." While there are more players and positions in the NFL, a comparable expectation of performance from MLS would greatly exceed the 10 or so spots we are seeing.

More recent picks are more likely to play in MLS as well, but older players are more likely to have performed better aside from the bust year of 2007.

Draft Year

Total Playing in MLS 2012
Avg. Castrol Ranking
2007 13 256
2008 13 194
2009 18 215
2010 24 254
2011 22 235
2012 25 275

This last chart is not surprising. The average career of a soccer player can be short. Older players have been assessed longer, had more opportunities for injuries, foreign contracts, or other life decisions and therefore less likely to be playing in MLS. Still, it is notable that less than half of the assessed 2009 SuperDraft picks played in the 2012 regular season.

These two charts do not take into account the players like Tim Ream or Mo Edu that have opted to play in an overseas league of equal or better quality to MLS. The number of players who fall into this category is very small compared to the 228 players assessed.

In the end, the value of SuperDraft is murky. Managers like Bruce Arena and Peter Vermes have used the draft to create a core of young players which has led to their recent success. Other managers have seen little impact from their drafted players, either by poor decision-making or by choice, and would possibly see their prospects for success improved without a draft. Some may argue the SuperDraft is not as much a murky problem as it is a symptom of the college/pro disconnect, and that managers are doing their best in assessing players that play limited minutes in the NCAA system. That is an argument for a different time.

The 2013 MLS SuperDraft will be held on January 17. Unless you have a top 10 pick or Bruce Arena is your coach, don't expect much from the player you drafted.