Questions: Why Do We Need a SuperDraft?

MLS commissioner Don Garber at the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.  Credit: Bill Barrett - ISIPhotos.com

By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (Jan 15, 2013) US Soccer Players - In Tuesday’s column, Tony looks at the MLS Draft, asks how many clubs will play in the NASL’s Spring season, and wonders about the relevance of cable TV ratings.

Which club has the most picks in this week’s MLS Draft?

Montreal and New England have four apiece, while San Jose, Colorado, and Los Angeles have three each. Those 17 picks are almost half of the Draft, which is 38 picks (two rounds).

What’s the point of a college/amateur player draft in MLS in 2013? Since MLS borrows the concept from other American professional sports, let’s start with the original intent. Simply put, drafts were about preventing richer teams from signing all the highly touted prospects along with preventing owners from having to compete with one another and pay market rates for prime talent. With that in mind, you can see the appeal for a single-entity league like Major League Soccer. It also throws fans of losing teams a bone, as teams can sell ‘hope’ for a few years (but only a few, as the Pirates and Royals of baseball have found out).

For MLS, the Draft allowed franchises to avoid the costs of an academy while being able to talk about their commitment to the academy idea. Having colleges, high schools, and established youth clubs do the work of development saved MLS teams money during the early years of the League.

In 2013, however, that doesn’t fly. The leap from college to the professional game grows each year. Teams are signing academy-developed players, with and without college experience, for a reason. Soon, and sooner than some clubs seem to think, this trend will be the norm.

As such, it might be time for the League to change its way of doing business when it comes to player development. Tell teams they can sign as many academy developed players as they want, but they sacrifice a college draft pick for each signing. If a team wants to take a chance with a college player, then let them, but give teams a choice whether they want to take the salary cap hit on a college player.

How many teams will kick off the NASL's Spring season on April 6th?

Seven. Now wait a minute Tony, eight teams finished last season, and no NASL teams went to MLS. What happened?

The Puerto Rico Islanders are taking the famous 'hiatus' to reorganize and will rejoin the league in the Fall season, along with the Cosmos. We all understand that in the North American soccer business, a professional team going on hiatus, or delaying joining a league isn't a recipe for success. Puerto Rico has been a successful franchise on the field, even appearing in the CONCACAF Champions League.

According to Soccer America's Soccer Business Insider, where does Fox Soccer Channel rank out of 96 cable channels?

The top five channels, in terms of adult total day viewers in 2012, were Nickelodeon, Adult Swim, USA, Fox News, and Cartoon Network. ESPN is the top rated sports network, with more than 1 million average daily total viewers. Fox Soccer is 94th of 96 channels, with an average of 26,000 total daily viewers. Only VH1 Classic and Fuel rank lower.

Even if we concede that FSC’s programming is strongest during the day, versus prime time, and we all agree the ratings measurement system might be imprecise, Fox Soccer is 94th out of 96 rated channels and losing its signature product, the English Premier League, at the end of the season.

Is there a way to fairly judge the type of season Michael Bradley's AS Roma is having in Serie A?

In twenty games, Roma's scored 43 goals and given up 34. The 43 is top of the league and the 34 conceded is only bested by Cagliari's 36. That's 77 goals in 20 games. Zdenek Zeman soccer.

Roma fans should back off. After Luis Enrique was driven out of Rome last season, Zeman is delivering exactly his kind of football - results, along with some mystifying personnel choices (why he doesn't play De Rossi more baffles me). Zemen wasn't hired to provide dull, grind-it-out victories and you take the amount of goals scored along with the amount conceded. Roma are sixth in Serie A, but admittedly 6 away losses already is a problem.

Fulham FC’s coach Martin Jol recently said he club was missing a scorer, such as Clint Dempsey, who led the team in scoring last season. Besides being the club’s all-time leading scorer, what other record does Dempsey hold for that club?

He’s their all-time leader in appearances, for a little while longer, with 184. Aaron Hughes should pass Dempsey before the season is out. Tim Howard, by the way, is fourth all-time for Everton, but his 246 appearances leave him considerably behind David Unsworth’s 302.


Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.

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2 Responses to Questions: Why Do We Need a SuperDraft?

  1. Peter C says:

    Tony,

    Why even restrict the teams to either/or academy or college players?

    Just let them sign all the academy(off the books) players they want and fully participate in the draft. They could then leverage their draft picks for the black hole allocation money, international slots or some other perk.

  2. Xavier says:

    I attended the MLS Combine in Fort Lauderdale. The Draft and the Combine are organized in a way where players are nominated. The nominations feed from the college coaches, to the MLS coaches.

    Some of the players who were playing had no business being there. I could only conclude that there must be some favoritism in the nomination process, because some of the players looked very average, and there were good players not selected for the draft. This is not good for soccer in this country if we have such a bad system, where good players cannot get a chance and poorer players are selected over them. It is a shame.