On Jan. 15, 20 MLS clubs will convene in Philadelphia to draft eligible first year players to boost their squads. In what seems like the offseason of drafts (add links to each draft), the SuperDraft should be the one of most interest to Red Bulls supporters.
The Red Bulls will draft 18th thanks to their run to the Eastern Conference final, and for the first time in a long time, own all four picks in the SuperDraft (they picked five times in 2011 due to various trades). Our history of first round picks isn't stellar, with the last three being Corey Hertzog, Tony Tchani, and Austin da Luz. Of those three only Tchani plays in MLS, but he was shipped off after a year in a shortsighted move for 13 games of Dwayne de Rosario.
First round picks late in the first round generally are for a position that is most needed, and the Red Bulls certainly could use a young, cheap, talented center back. With the draft only 4 days away I propose three options the Red Bulls could do:
1. The Ali Curtis Hell-Turn
Ali Crutis isn't welcome around these parts. I have a way for him to become even more hated, but help the Red Bulls in a considerable fashion: Trade Dax McCarty for the first overall pick, a second round pick, and $225,000 in allocation money. This rumor has been mentioned before, but actual draft picks weren't named.
In this scenario, Curtis becomes less endeared to fans, but also do wonders for the "Energy Drink of a Squad" going forward. The Red Bulls would draft Cyle Larin first overall, and either play him in USL Pro or behind Tim Cahill and Bradley Wright-Phillips. The Red Bulls finally sign Sacha Kljestan to take over for Dax McCarty and have Eric Alexander come off the bench. With the 18th overall pick the Red Bulls would probably draft Anthony Manning out of St. Louis University. I like him at 18, but there are better CBs in the draft.
Given all of this the new formation could be a 4-4-2 diamond with Kljestan playing DM and Peguy Luyindula playing CM. Chill and BWP are strikers, and Oyongo plays the left wing in front of Roy Miller and Lloyd Sam plays the Right Wing in front of Chris Duvall. Manning, Miyazga, Sekgaya (hopefully coming back) and Armando, rotate in the CB position bringing everyone along slowly. Plus now we can sign depth with the allocation money and fill out a bench.
2. Trading up for Conor Donovan
In my opinion he is the best CB in the draft not going in the top 5. Mock Drafts have him in the 7-12 range, so that's what it would take for the Red Bulls to trade up. I would not be surprised if the Red Bulls trade up to 10 with Sporting KC with their pick and allocation money. That gives the Red Bulls a nice new CB toy to play with along with Miazga. This strengthens the squad and doesn't cost more than allocation money.
SKC now have two first round picks in the back half to strengthen an already good squad. Win-win.
3. Staying Pat.
The MLS SuperDraft is weird to predict. Trades get made all the time, and guys can fall. I think Anthony Manning is not that bad and can be brought along with the squad, especially if there is a USL Pro squad to give him playing time. Sure we are thin at centerback, but having a young project is good for this team in a retooling/rebuilding year.
I'm partial to option 1, but all three are potential options that could happen this Thursday at noon. Or the Red Bulls could trade the pick for an MLS CB, and make all of these scenarios irrelevant! Anyway, its nice owning a pick first round, for sure.