David Falk has followed soccer in the Puget Sound region since 1974. This blog covers Sounders FC, local college soccer, Seattle Wolves FC, Tacoma Tide FC and Kitsap Pumas. Send tips or comments to: goalseattle@gmail.com
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Seattle Soccer Examiner

Seattle Soccer Examiner

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

First takes on the Sounders' expansion draft

Midfielder Brad Evans

Expansion drafts are by nature hard to judge because so much of what makes them either great, good, bad or awful happens months after they take place.

I think it is accurate to say that Sounders fans are generally underwhelmed with Seattle's choices as a first response. I think it is also accurate to say that fans of other Major League Soccer clubs are generally not overly impressed with the players we picked, either. The forums on GOALSeattle and BigSoccer show that the draft has pretty much been an initial 'let down' for fans.

Listen to the post-draft media conference call from SoundersFC.com here.
Read some day-after media stories in these links posted in the GS forums.
The Seattle Soccer Show talks about the draft: direct audio link

Soccer pundits are also starting to weigh in with their opinions. Goal.com's Kyle McCarthy actually likes what he sees in the draft. He notes that Sigi Schmid's fingerprints appear to be all over the selections: "Upon further examination, Schmid isn't the only one who should like these picks. The ten selections are generally prudent in salary (Jaqua and Vagenas make the most, both hovering around $150,000) and stocked with upside."

Midfielder /winger Khano Smith

Steve Davis says the Sounders have sent signals as much with who they didn't draft as who they did. "Salary considerations might similarly help explain why experienced fellows like Duilio Davino, Chris Klein, Terry Cooke, Viktor Sikora, Mulrooney, Hartman and a few others were available but weren't selected. All that experience comes at a price -- which is exactly why clubs feel OK about leaving some of those guys exposed. They know Seattle is already in a position where they need to pinch the pennies, so they leave their more pricey vets off the protected list, fairly confident those guys would still be in their familiar colors once Seattle had made its selections."

One of the more biting reviews of the Seattle draft came from up north where Toronto media continue to hound every Sounders move. In a blog entitled "Drafting daft" Ray Johnston declares: "Expectations are low, the seats are sold and the shirt-seller has arrived -- so, draft accordingly. The biggest risk SFC general manager Adrian Hanauer might be willing to take this year is simply getting a team on the field. Seattle has been fairly predictable with its moves to date and the 10 names selected will presumably be warm bodies ready to fill out a roster built around Ljungberg, Sanna Nyassi, goalkeeper Kasey Keller and local hero S├ębastien Le Toux.

On to Smith. To be honest, I thought the initial press release contained a typo and Johann Smith was the player heading to Seattle. But a second press release from TFC confirmed I was wrong and I started to think about TFC life without Smith (Insert cricket sounds)."

Kartik Krishnaiyer of MajorLeagueSoccerTalk.com goes the other direction, praising the Sounders' draft as reflecting an insider's knowledge of the league, though he's still not thrilled with the Ljungberg signing: "The Sounders FC expansion draft was conducted Wednesday and the new Seattle franchise did quite well. Nate Jaqua returned to MLS after a successful season in Europe, largely with the idea of playing for the Sounders, so his choice was pre ordained. But the other choices much like San Jose a year ago took a knowledge of MLS to make. The Sounders have passed the test with flying colors and now have a very competitive team despite the questionable DP signing of Freddie Ljungberg."

The guys headed our way are also caught a bit off-guard as they contemplate moving to the Northwest. Brad Evans was hit especially hard as he celebrated a league cup win with his mates only four days ago, now he's off to Seattle. Crew fans report he looked pretty glum at the Crew celebrations.

In Chicago, surprise pick Steven King expressed mixed feelings. "I'm excited to have this opportunity for a fresh start," he told the Tribune, "but at the same time I was enjoying my time in Chicago. I'm sad my time ended here so quickly. I knew I was in the running. I had a lot of playing time compared to most of the guys on the list and I'm also a young guy. I was ready to know. I was tired of waiting."

Midfielder Steven King

Seattle Sports Blog Hotdog & Friends has their own opinions, too. "With only three defenders selected in the expansion draft, Hanauer sends a strong signal that he is going to lock up some defenders from his USL team. Taylor Graham, who’s Wikipedia page briefly listed him as a member of Sounders FC, is one such defender. Danny Jackson, the skipper and Graham’s partner in central defense, could be another."

What does GOALSeattle.com have to say about the draft? How about this: I'm glad that it is over. The Sounders accomplished a few things I was hoping they would. They got Nate Jaqua, and helped their midfield with Brad Evans and Khano Smith. They gave themselves experience in the back with Vagenas, though I am skeptical that "experience" in his case might end up meaning "Slow and injury-prone." Seattle also got a few younger guys who could come on under the right training. So let's say that three of these guys actually become starters. Then it is a good day for Sounders fans. It would be the first and maybe only time ever we would be getting 3/11ths of a club on the same day.

Like the rest of us I am going to have to wait and see which ones of these guys make their marks in training camp. While Jaqua is the only player to give me an initial spark, I can see Khano, Evans, Parke and a couple of the young defenders being important players down the line.

In the end, GM Adrian Hanauer is quick to remind : "This is just one of the steps in building our team," said Hanauer. "We're also in discussions with USL and international players. We wanted to bring in players that would allow us to fit everyone under the salary cap and use our allocation budget wisely. We came into the draft prepared, picking players with skill, experience, youth and more. Ultimately it was an enjoyable and rewarding experience."

Still need MORE?
Read Ives' take on his blog, with reader comments
See how fans are voting about the Seattle draft on BigSoccer
Ridge Mahoney, Soccer America

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