Baltimore, MD - The Sounders FC went into the 2011 MLS SuperDraft with high expectations as they held five picks over the three rounds. By the end of the day, they filled all of their needs and were able to add some allocation money to the pot to improve their standing heading into their third season.
In a day riddled with surprises, one of the more unexpected came when Seattle swapped the 11th overall pick with the rival Portland Timbers in exchange for a second round pick (20th overall) and allocation money, with Seattle including an international roster slot in the trade.
“We looked at our immediate need and looking at our team roster and salary cap, allocation money was pretty important for us. It’s worked well in our favor in the past and it was an important need for us,” technical director Chris Henderson said. “Some of our top picks fell to us in the second round, so we’re really happy with the way things turned out.”
The day began with a shock as the Vancouver Whitecaps selected forward Omar Salgado with the first overall pick, bypassing two players widely considered the top talents in Darlington Nagbe and Perry Kitchen, who went second to the Portland Timbers and third to DC United, respectively.
In a deep draft, Seattle decided to move further back and still wound up getting a player they sought when they picked defender/midfielder Michael Tetteh with the 20th pick overall. A Generation adidas signing out of UC-Santa Barbara, Tetteh adds depth at left back and a more dynamic attack to go with Steve Zakuani on that side.
“We’re very pleased to still see him on the board when we were picking,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said, noting that he projected that Tetteh would be picked between 9th and 14th. “We were looking for some cover at the wide positions, and we got that with Michael.”
Seattle went on to add more defensive depth, picking defender Juan Leone Cruz, defensive midfielder Servando Carrasco and goalkeeper Bryan Meredith in the second round before adding midfielder Alex Caskey in the third round to round out the draft.
Cruz was heralded for his passing ability, coming to the Sounders from SMU, where he 9 goals and 5 assists in 67 appearances.
“Cruz played very well at our Combine and at the league Combine,” Schmid said. “He’s a real competitor and he gets up in the air well. Those are the things that we liked about him.”
Carrasco is a defensive midfielder in the mold of Osvaldo Alonso that will provide depth at that position and allow the Sounders to continue the same style and mentality even when their 2010 MVP isn’t on the field.
In Meredith, the Sounders add a 21-year-old goalkeeper that will have the chance to grow behind Kasey Keller and Terry Boss, benefiting from the opportunities presented with the reserve league, US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League games that stack up on top of the regular MLS schedule.
Though he had 35 shutouts in 60 starts from his final three seasons with Monmouth and led the nation in goals against average at 0.306 in 2009, he wasn’t as renowned as first-round pick Zac MacMath, but Schmid prefers the raw abilities of Meredith.
“I’ve never really picked goalkeepers who played for the U-17s or U-20s. I just feel that goalkeepers develop at their own tempo and their own pace,” Schmid said. “He’s got very good hands and he hasn’t been taught as much as the other guys in terms of goalkeeper training. He also has good feet - he used to play as a forward in high school.”
With their final pick, 47th overall in the third round, Seattle went with Caskey, a two-year captain at Davidson College who score 14 goals and added six assists in his final two seasons.
The players chosen will likely join the team next week, but training camp begins January 24. The Sounders FC open their third MLS season with MLS First Kick March 15 at Qwest Field against the LA Galaxy.
Sounders FC 2011 SuperDraft Selections
2nd Round, 2nd Pick, 20th Overall
Hometown (Citizenship): Accra, Ghana (Ghana)
College: UCSB (2008-10)
High School: Dunn HS
Juan (Leone) Cruz
2nd Round, 3rd Pick, 21st Overall
Hometown (Citizenship): Round Rock, Texas (Mexico/USA)
College: Southern Methodist University
High School: Round Rock HS
2nd Round, 9th Pick, 27th Overall
Birthplace (Citizenship): San Diego, Calif. (USA)
College: University of California
High School: St. Augustine HS
Pronunciation: sir-VAWN-dough cuh-ROSS-coh
2nd Round, 11th Pick, 29th Overall
Birthplace (Citizenship): Scotch Plains, N.J. (USA)
College: Monmouth University
High School: Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS
3rd Round, 11th Pick, 47th Overall
Birthplace (Citizenship): Dunwoody, GA (USA)
College: Davidson College
High School: Dunwoody HS