This could be an exciting morning for Seattle Sounders FC, which holds the No. 11 pick in an MLS SuperDraft in which the prime talent runs just about 11 players deep – more or less.
“I think it’s a decent class,” Sounders technical director Chris Henderson said from Philadelphia, where the draft will begin at 11 a.m. today. “… Time will tell with how these players do and how they progress next season. But I think if you look at the group and looking at the combine, it was pretty good. It’s hard to tell how they’re going to do, but from what we saw there are 10 to 15 solid guys in there.”
That means that barring a trade, the Sounders will have to hold their breath and cross their fingers as other teams gobble up the first 10 players from this class of college and youth-soccer prospects.
The first pick is held by the expansion Philadelphia Union, which is expected to select Oregon State forward Danny Mwanga.
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That’s the position the Sounders were in last season, when they selected forward Steve Zakuani, who went on to start 24 games while recording four goals and four assists.
But today, the club must hope for a little luck that might keep one of its favored players on the board when that pick rolls around.
The Sounders have been secretive about their preferences, but speculation has involved players such as Harvard forward Andre Akpan, Akron midfielder Blair Gavin, Wake Forest forward Zack Schilawski and UCLA midfielder Amoki Okugo.
“In every draft there’s some surprises,” Henderson said. “So it could be one of the teams in front of us picks somebody that we really didn’t expect, and that leaves a guy open that we felt would go earlier. It’s hard to predict.
“We have plenty of scenarios that we’ve gone through that we’d be happy with … at 11. There could also be some trades that change the draft in front of us.”
Or, Henderson acknowledged, the Sounders could do some dealing of their own.
Barring that, Seattle will make three picks: No. 11, No. 27 and No. 59 overall. Their third-round pick – 43rd overall – was traded to Houston last season for defender Patrick Ianni.
The Sounders will hope for better luck in the later rounds than they had last year, when neither second-round pick Evan Brown, third-round pick Jared Karkas nor fourth-rounder Michael Fucito appeared in any league games.
Fortunately for the Sounders, the club faces fewer pure areas of need than a year ago.
“I think we have a pretty solid core,” Henderson said. “Some depth at wide midfield, we’d have interest in. You’d always like to get a young striker. But also we need depth at our outside back positions, as well. … A player you hope could make an impact next year would be exciting for us. With the amount of games that we’ll have between the league, the Open Cup, and the CONCACAF Champions League, there’s going to be plenty of opportunities.”
The first round will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808