As MLS coaches and executives prepare for an epic night of horse trading in the hotel bar, Kyle McCarthy sets the scene and sorts through a few lingering questions.
Imagine taking a large group of people with a series of personal and professional connections and placing it into the middle of a hotel bar. Imagine that this group of people – or, at least, a certain segment of that group – exerts control over how a significant event unfolds the next day. Imagine that self-interest creates a significant incentive to employ subterfuge at all times, particularly with a series of interlopers buzzing around the venue. And then add adult beverages into the mix.
If the setting sounds like it might prompt a bit of inspiration and a hint of chaos, then you've just about hit it right on the head.
On a night when less-than-truthful statements tend to fly around with impunity, the Musings decided to dip into the ol' mailbag and deal candidly with a couple of topics surrounding the SuperDraft:
Do you think the [Home Grown player rule] will have the desired impact in the long term? Will it keep America's brightest prospects from wanting to test the waters in Europe? Is Generation adidas different?
It's going to take some time to measure the true value of the Home Grown initiative. The early steps have yielded mixed returns: some players progressing, some players faltering and a lot of clubs wondering how exactly the system works. The ultimate goal remains finding a coherent way to discover, nurture and retain young talent. The entire Academy system offers a positive step in that direction.
Will it work in all cases? Absolutely not. There are young, talented players who will want to break through overseas for any number of financial and sporting reasons. It's part and parcel of the game. By cultivating more players and honing their skills in a coherent and professional way, clubs should still find a way to stock their systems and compensate for those losses.
Generation adidas can still play a role as a sort of middle ground in the process. Some players won't qualify for the Home Grown rule, yet they will excel in college and merit such a deal. Some players will slide right into the program as part of the Home Grown process itself. The question becomes how much does the Home Grown rule impact Generation adidas financially? The answer to that question is yet to be determined.
Who do you think Vancouver is going to take? Who do you think they should take?
The answer to both questions is one and the same: take either Darren Mattocks and Andrew Wenger. In some ways, the Whitecaps have the best perch in the entire SuperDraft. Two players offer the most value for the second overall pick. One of them will likely come off the board before they select. They really don't have to make an active choice in the matter.
(Note: For those puckheads in British Columbia, I draw a cautious – and perhaps unpopular in that neck of the woods – parallel between this situation and the way the 2010 NHL Entry Draft unfolded. Boston held the second pick in a draft where Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin were far and away the top two available choices. The Bruins, by the way, have made out on Edmonton's choice to date.)
One other note worth making here: it's probably fair to surmise Vancouver coach Martin Rennie saw Wenger play more than once during his spell as coach of the Carolina Railhawks.
If you were in the [New England] front office, who would you take with the third pick?
Talk about cutting right to the crux of the matter. The answer to this question could dictate the course of the draft. In this particular year, it appears the SuperDraft starts at three.
Several scenarios are on the table at the moment:
(1) Montréal or Vancouver pulls a shocker – hey, it happened last year, right? – and the Revs gleefully scoop up either Mattocks or Wenger.
(2) The top two remain the top two and the Revs take the player they feel is the best available option for their side, even if it is a guy who probably should come a little bit later on the draft board.
(3) Instead of forcing a pick at three, the Revs trade out of the pick (Kelyn Rowe, I'd imagine, would be the target for a team wishing to trade up) to accumulate assets, move down a few slots and pray the guy they want slips to them at that point.
No matter how the scene unfolds tomorrow, one thing remains crystal clear: the Revs need to find a way to maximize the value of their selection. It could come by shipping away the pick or by staying put. The bare minimum should involve getting equal value for this point in the draft, but the landscape of this lottery – two distinguished players at the top, then a group of six or seven fairly equal players (with Rowe maybe ahead by a touch) below – creates an opportunity to extract additional value.
The tough part? Finding a way to turn sound theory into tangible reality. Either way, the situation places much of the onus on New England to dictate the course of this SuperDraft. No pressure, right?
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.