Look, here's your 2009 Superdraft. Four or five real standouts, maybe one or two who toddle off to Europe in three years. Another four or five who see regular time. A couple of guys drafted after round three who, for whatever incomprehensible reason, make it big. And several dozen guys who professional careers are pretty much over today...they just don't know it yet.
I wonder if the continuing devaluation of draft picks, including and especially the #1 overall, will continue. Last year, the right to choose the very, very best of the entire available class was deemed worth exactly one Nick Garcia.
It sure looks like last year's draft was unusually horrible, but we won't know for sure until several years have gone by. In that spirit, let's look at how one of the most notorious drafts in MLS history, looks today.
Your 2004 SUPERdraft!
DC United: Freddy Adu, Kevin Ara, Joshua Gros, Kevin Hudson.
While Adu was good for the league's bank balance, he wasn't much fun for his actual team. In retrospect, the commercial should have been Adu v. Beckham. While people are lining up to call Freddy a failure - after all, he's not starting for Monaco! - his MLS career was definitely a fizzle. Fourth-round pick Gros was the solid pick here. DC won the Cup this year, but it wasn't because of the draft. (It wasn't because of Nowak, either - it was all Ryan Nelsen and Christian Gomez. But that's another fight.) B+ for getting Gros so late.
Columbus: Chad Marshall, Chris Wingert, Jamal Sutton, Adom Crew, Luke Vercollone, Matt Haefner.
Only one of these guys ended up contributing to the Crew's double this year. Do you then rate this draft year a 16.7%? No, you give it the A+ it deserves. (Although they have to be disappointed that the guy they named the team after didn't stick around.)
Los Angeles: Joseph Ngwenya, Josh Gardner, Ned Grabavoy, Guillermo Arzate, David McGill, Jason Perry, Alan Gordon, Chris Aloisi.
Gwen didn't actually give all that much in his Galaxy years, although in retrospect they clearly dumped him too soon. And I had forgotten that Gordon was a sixth round pick. On the other hand, he was only the second or third best sixth round pick in this draft. This was a weird year. Now that Grabavoy has been in the league five years with three different teams, can I call him a disappointment? B-.
Kansas City: Matt Taylor, Will Hesmer, Jay Alberts, Justin Detter, Ryan Barber.
Let's see, did Columbus give Kansas City the Crown Jewels and a mint condition Amazing Adult Fantasy #15 in exchange for Hesmer? Nope. To be fair, probably even Sigi had no idea how good Hesmer was going to be. That's still no reason to give this draft anything but a big, stinky F. Kids, be extremely careful when Googling "Amazing Adult Fantasy."
San Jose: Ryan Cochrane, Steve Cronin, Mike Wilson, Lindon Pecorelli, Marin Pucek, Tighe Dombrowski.
If you had asked me last year, I would have given this an easy A based on Cochrane alone. Then the Dynamo mailed him back to San Jose with no return address. Cronin's career has been positively D.J. Countessesque. Still, Cochrane started on two Cup-winning teams and had two fantastic years for this franchise. That's usually good enough for an A-, but if Cochrane regains his form in San Jose, this grade goes down just for the Dynamo being dumb enough to jettison him.
Dallas: Ramon Nuñez, Clarence Goodson, Ty Maurin, David Wagenfuhr, Edwin Miranda.
Boy, did this year turn out bitter for the Burn. Goodson fled to Europe just as he was turning into an actual player, Wagenfuhr's career ended way too soon, and oh by the way they were rumproasted out of the #1 overall pick because Freddy wanted to stay at home. Given Adu's MLS career, and the fact that Colin Clarke chose Nuñez ahead of Clint Dempsey, though, it's easy to conclude that Dallas would have botched it anyway. D-.
New England: Clint Dempsey, Jeremiah White, Felix Brillant, Andy Dorman.
Dorman was still on the table in round six, five picks after Alan Gordon. Dempsey was probably an even bigger pain in the ass to have around than Adu's entourage, but even his rap career doesn't drag this grade below A+.
Chicago: Scott Buete, Leonard Griffin, Matt Pickens, Sumed Ibrahim, Khari Stephenson, Denny Clanton, Phil Hucles, Ian Pilarski, Ryan McGowan, Tony McManus.
MLSnet says that the Fire drafted Pat Noonan with the #9 pick this year, which, ya know, I don't remember actually happening. A disturbingly horrible draft, especially by Fire standards - hence the battle cry, "What is Dave Sarachan thinking?" Pickens did have one good year, and Griffin's going to get another try with Sarachan in Los Angeles, which rockets this draft's grade all the way up to F+.
Metrostars: Seth Stammler, Zach Wells, Oliver Occean, Michael Bradley, Jonathan David, Jeff Parke.
Yes, that Michael Bradley. Look, they sold him for $75,000. How much would a follow-on fee for a $75,000 player possibly be? Hey, maybe it's in the ultramillions, and that one deal is making the Red Bulls profitable. The Metros didn't have a pick in the first round, but Stammler was a far better choice than nearly all the guys above him. Who knows, if he had been healthy in November, the outcome in Carson might have been different. Probably not, though. The #60 on Parke's jersey refers to his IQ and not his status as the last pick in the last round of this draft, but aside from his trips to the vitamin store, he paid off more than anyone had any right to dream.
The draft gets an A. Decisions by and regarding players afterwards...not so much.
Colorado: Adolofo Gregorio, Adrian Cann, Kevin Taylor, Kevin Richards, Gary Sullivan, John Pulido.
Oh, my GOD, what the HELL happened here? Gregorio didn't report, Cann was cut in midseason, and that's the sum total of the contribution to the Rapids from this draft. I'm sure someone out there knows what the Rapids did to lose their first round pick, but there's no possible way it was worth it. This performance helped end the Tim Hankinson regime, not that what followed was anything to write sonnets about. Grade: G.