MLSsoccer.com editors Simon Borg and Jason Saghini highlight the teams who came away as the big winners following Thursday's SuperDraft.
Houston Dynamo & Chivas USA: These two teams both traded up to get a second selection in the first round and were the biggest winners on the day for it.
Both teams came away with the two highest-rated right backs (Zarek Valentin for Chivas USA and Kofi Sarkodie for Houston) and arguably the top two available forwards (Victor Estupiñan for Chivas USA and Will Bruin for Houston).
Columbus Crew: Columbus is rebuilding after a down season and the slow dismantling of their 2008 championship side. The club's draft picks will go a long way toward reshaping Robert Warzycha roster.
Rich Balchan has all the tools to step on the field right away, filling a need at right back. The trading of Steve Lenhart to San Jose yielded not only an exciting attacker in Justin Meram, but also allocation money. Meram’s slashing ability will be a welcome change of pace off the bench for Warzycha.
Cole Grossman is a mature player who is not far away from contributing and could help ease the loss of Brian Carroll. Taking a flyer on Bernardo Anor, a Venezuelan youth international, adds depth at midfield.
LA Galaxy: The Galaxy were not well positioned going into the SuperDraft but still finished with quality players in key positions. First, they took diminutive Uruguayan Paolo Cardozo, who can provide creativity and unpredictability in attack which they sorely lacked in 2010. They also landed a natural right midfielder in Cal’s Hector Jimenez, who will prove a good back-up for David Beckham. But the biggest catch was arguably MLS veteran Chad Barrett, who the Galaxy acquired in a trade with Toronto FC. He is due for a breakout season which could come in LA.
Houston Dynamo: Dominic Kinnear isn’t used to having much allocation money to work with but after Houston’s worst finish ever, he showed he knows what to do with it. The Dynamo came in with only one pick in the draft and left with two of the best young talents available.
Right back Kofi Sarkodie has the talent to get into the attack, something sorely missing from Houston’s backline last season. Will Bruin is a target forward and a big body who will come in and learn from one of the best MLS has ever seen, Brian Ching. Bruin’s athleticism will allow him to play off of Ching and the double threat could prove difficult to stop.
Seattle Sounders: Sigi Schmid came away with a total of five players, tied for most in the SuperDraft and depth should not be an issue in 2011. They now have quality insurance at left back (Michael Tetteh), defensive midfield (Servando Carrasco) and attacking midfield (Alex Caskey), while also taking a goalkeeper who is said to be cut from the Tony Meola mold (Bryan Merideth). Although not a Combine standout, SMU’s Leone Cruz will add soccer acumen to the competition at center back.
D.C. United: United had to be thrilled when they found out Salgado had gone first to Vancouver. After that, they could simply write down Perry Kitchen’s name on their draft sheet. Kitchen will join young players like Andy Najar, Conor Shanosky, Ethan White and Bill Hamid in shaping what could be a very good team in a few years.
Chris Korb is a proven winner from Akron. He can cover at either fullback position. Denver's Joe Willis is a goalkeeper with impressive size who can get down quickly and stop shots with the best of them.