Draft Beer, Not Players

J.R. Eskilson can see the future.

How can he possibly know this? We're talking about a draft so deep, so rich in talent, that Bruce Arena thought Clint Mathis is a better choice than at least fifty of them.

MLS teams don't build around the draft anymore, if they ever did. It was five years ago that Salt Lake took Brad Guzan, building a foundation that would lead them to MLS Cup, while Chivas USA built their team around Nik Besagno, and they've struggled ever since. Oh wait.

As the draft gets less important, you see fewer of the big draft day trades that brighten up the occasion. The majority of these guys picked are probably not going to contribute to their teams - not based on what's come before.

There's a reason that the SuperDraft has come to a grinding halt. The NCAA is not the optimal way to develop players. But it's still where most of the players are coming from.

It's very difficult to scout the NCAA, because so few games are televised. There are greater number of college basketball teams and college football teams, but it's vastly easier to get information on them.

MLS teams don't have the resources to do the kind of scouting that other pro teams can. It's not like you see high school baseball on television, either, but MLB sends scouts everywhere.

I thought you couldn't judge drafts until five years have elapsed. I was horribly wrong. Go back and look at the 2008 draft.

Yeah, Houston did a fantastic job with their first pick - they did manage to land Geoff Cameron. Of course, that was the 42nd pick overall. Just about the only other guy in the entire draft worth mentioning is Sean Franklin. And this was only two years ago.

So why do it? The rationale for it in other American sports - to afflict the strong and comfort the weak - doesn't work in MLS. The mechanism to help bad teams equal the playing field is worthless in the hands of those who won't or can't help themselves...or, more precisely, can use other tools to better themselves more quickly and efficiently.

MLS should ditch the draft, and let teams discover their own players and do their own research. The only reason to have a draft in MLS is if a team folds...maybe not even then. The players shouldn't be asking for the end of free agency or single entity, they should be asking for the end of the Superdraft.

...which would go a long way towards free agency, of course, which is why we're struck with it. It's fall-down astonishing that grown men with rare and valuable skills meekly accept being assigned to play for, say, the Los Angeles Clippers. But if basketball, baseball and football players don't have the clout to play for who they wish to play for, then soccer players have no chance.

Sure, it works in other sports. You know, it probably even helps with parity in other sports. Doesn't make it less embarrassing. "Wow, all my life, I've dreamed of being a Washington National."

So we're stuck with the SuperDraft, and every year teams wake up on Christmas morning with the roster equivalent of the blood-soaked wooden pickle from "Bad Santa."

And you're telling me the Philadelphia Union had a perfect draft? What, you mean they got THREE players who will still be on the roster in 2012?!