The rebuilding of the Sounders FC roster is slated to continue on Thursday with the 2012 MLS SuperDraft from the Kansas City Convention Center. Seattle holds the 15th and 34th picks in the draft and the club is confident they will be able to add a valuable piece or two as they look to fill the holes left by nine players who have departed since the end of the 2011 season.
Based on their extensive scouting during the college seasons and at international youth tournaments, Sigi Schmid and Chris Henderson will go into the draft on Thursday armed with a wide perspective on each player that could be available to them.
And with a draft that they consider to be deeper than drafts in recent years, that scouting will be even more valuable.
“I think we’ve been pretty pleased with this combine. There’s going to be someone there at 15 who we see can contribute,” said Henderson as he prepared to head from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Kansas City, where there will undoubtedly be some wheeling and dealing among teams.
While it is difficult to project who will be available with the 15th overall pick in the first round, Schmid anticipates a philosophy of taking the best player available – within reason. The Sounders FC head coach projects as many as 11 players whose talents warrant being taken with the 15th pick regardless of their position. Beyond that, he said, the club will target specific needs.
“We always come into the draft with the same purpose, trying to get the best player we can with our pick,” he said. “You look at needs a little bit and try and address your needs within that and we’ve tried to address some of those needs in some of the signings that we’ve made.”
Though their picks come later in the draft because of their success in each of the past three seasons, the Sounders aren’t taking their spot in the draft lightly. In each draft from 2006-2010, players picked 15th or later in the draft would eventually find themselves suiting up for the US National Team, including Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans, who was taken 15th in the 2007 SuperDraft by the Columbus Crew and is currently in training camp with the US.
“There’s a number of players who are pretty clear cut choices for the top three or four guys,” Henderson said. “There are always a few surprises who get picked later in the draft and they develop in a good system and are kind of late bloomers. We are hoping that we can grab a guy that can do that for us.”
Regardless of who they pick, it won’t be based solely on the combine held in Florida this week or the club’s combine in Las Vegas last month, but instead on the scouting the club has done throughout the last few years.
“We scouted during the season and we saw some of these guys in their college environment, some have trained with us, we’ve seen some when they’ve been in with national teams,” Schmid said. “The biggest mistake you can make at the combine is to drop players from your list if they have a bad combine or if they have a good combine they jump on their list. We want to take all that into account.”
The SuperDraft starts at 9 am Pacific on Thursday when the Montreal Impact are slated to make the first selection. Follow the draft live on SoundersFC.com.