Donnelly: MLS SuperDraft Comes to KC Convention Center, Can Vermes Score Again?

Sporting Kansas City head coach and general manager Peter Vermes is gaining a reputation as a skilled talent evaluator after only a couple years on the job. 

PhotoLast year in the MLS SuperDraft, he tapped a relatively unknown forward out of James Madison with the 10th overall pick.  The selection was universally panned as a reach, with most observers noting that KC really needed a center defender more than another attacker. 

Fast forward nine months and that unknown forward, CJ Sapong, was accepting the MLS Rookie of the Year trophy. 

And look at some of his other recent high draft picks…

In 2008 it was Chance Myers out of UCLA with the 1st overall pick.  Myers played little his first two seasons due largely to injury, but then exploded last season, the first time he was able to remain fit all year.  He is now widely regarded as one of the best attacking wing defenders in the league.  He also snagged Roger Espinoza the same year with the 11th pick.  The Honduras national team player started most of the games last season and was consistently a difference maker with his physical ball-winning.   

In 2009 it was Matt Besler out of Notre Dame that Vermes tapped 8th overall.  Last season Besler was an all-star, and was arguably Sporting KC’s most valuable player. 

In 2010 it was Teal Bunbury out of the University of Akron with the 4th pick.  Bunbury has been a mainstay for KC, leading the team in goals in 2011, and has been called up several times for USMNT duty.  Many see him leaving sometime this year due to substantial European interest in the athletic striker.

The fact is, Vermes has not missed with a single of his high level draft picks, not one.  Sure, there’s a little bit of luck involved with any draft in any sport.  But there’s no arguing that the Sporting boss has been almost perfect so far with his most valuable picks. 

Try saying that for Dayton Moore or Pioli.  No way.

Which brings us to this year’s SuperDraft being held at the Kansas City Convention Center on January 12th.  The draft airs live on ESPN2 starting at 11 a.m.

Will Vermes score another success?  Remember, KC picked up experienced winger Bobby Convey already, as well as versatile midfielder Paulo Nagamura.  They got rid of midfielder Davy Arnaud, striker Omar Bravo, and a couple other guys who rarely played. 

So what are the team’s needs at this point?

Most mock drafts- including Fox Soccer’s Ives Galarcep’s– has Sporting taking a defender.  Galarcep lists Austin Berry out of Louisville, a physical 6’2" player who is "strong and intelligent." 

The thing is, all of the defensive starters are back – Besler, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic, and Myers.  So is Julio Cesar, who came on late last season as a solid presence, and who played both center defender and defensive center mid.  Also, Michael Harrington is back.  He started all year in 2010 before getting hurt last year and losing out to Myers.  And Homegrown player Kevin Ellis might be ready to fill in.  Vermes has consistently praised Ellis’ development and this might be the year he starts to contribute.  Come to think of it, Espinoza is a serviceable defender, too, playing there for the entire 2010 season. 

I just simply don’t see the need for another defender at this point.

Instead, my guess is that Sporting looks for another attacker who can back up the starters when they run out of gas. 

Vermes’ stable of strikers at first glance looks pretty solid with Sapong, Bunbury, and Kei Kamara.  Plus, Convey can get into the attack on the flanks.  But they did lose Bravo, who co-led the team in goals.  And considering the all-out attacking style that Vermes favors, it’s never a bad thing to have another guy who can find the back of the net. 

Since basically the rest of the starting lineup is intact from last season, my money is on Sporting to select another athletic striker who can challenge defenders with strength and speed.

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4 Responses to Donnelly: MLS SuperDraft Comes to KC Convention Center, Can Vermes Score Again?

  1. RJ says:

    What about soony?
    He’s real young, but did have some good moments last year in his limited playing time. He tore the net apart in his short stint at Michigan.

    I see Vermes looking for another central midfielder.

  2. legendaryhog says:

    And Soony scored his first MLS game with his face…. A goal I always like to see…except if someone scores on a rebound off of their balls and goes down in agony as part of their “celebration.” The ultimate though, is rebound off the balls, have to be carted off the field… No magic spray is gonna fix that.

    Actually, you know who I liked this year in the College Tourney, Donnie Smith of Charlotte on the left side. He is fast as shit, and strong on the ball. He was burning fools and has a cannon. He’s only a Junior though, so I don’t see him coming out.

  3. Mysterious_J says:

    Need to replace Bravo!
    I think they will be sorry if they don’t focus on replacing #99.

    I am certainly not among the “many” who see Bunbury headed abroad…he doesn’t seem to have the work habits.

  4. Superfreq says:

    Bravo replacement
    I would imagine Convey will probably be playing in Bravo’s left wing spot. If he’s motivated (and Vermes will not put up with him if he isn’t a.k.a Ryan Smith) it could turn out well. His crosses into Sapong / Kamara will be an aspect we were missing with Bravo. The last bit of intrigue will be with Robb Heineman’s hint of the new attacking mid DP, who should be annnounced during the winter transfer window. If we get a true #10 creative mid, this team could score over 50 goals again this season.

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