MLS draft

Jay Heaps explains more about the Andrew Farrell efforts

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New England management really went all-in for Andrew Farrell at Thursday’s draft.

It was a bold move, trading up to get into the No. 1 chair – and it was all about the technically crafty center back who learned the game in Peru, where his American parents were missionaries during most of Farrell’s formative years.

It wasn’t just that Farrell was versatile and skillful. And it wasn’t just that he’s MLS-ready. For Heaps, it was the way the Louisville man carried himself when coaches, fans and media began sensing some special ability. The young man never bent under the rising weight.

We just felt that he was consensus No. 1 across [the board] from a lot of different feelings going into the draft. In college a lot of people were labeling him as the No. 1 pick when we were No. 4, but we still went to watch and see. He carried that pressure well, and I think those are important things. Then he also backed it up with a solid Combine. When you’re asked to perform at the level he’s had to perform in the spotlight, I think that also shows a little bit of character.”

A few early winners from Thursday’s MLS Draft

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Check back for more analysis later; here are some winners from the first 90 minutes of Thursday’s MLS draft:

New England: Consensus for MLS SuperDraft 2013 was a mix that included just one prime-time, set-and-ready, just-add-water figure – followed by a bunch of guys who may or may not help immediately. The one man, of course, was Andrew Farrell (pictured). So, moving up into the No. 1 spot to get the guy looks like a shrewd move.

New England needed a center back and needed a player who could add something to the roster now. Not down the road. Not next year. Now.

Said manager Jay Heaps: “He’s a player that’s going to be MLS-ready from Day 1, and that’s what we need at our team.”

adidas: The German apparel giant was all over this thing. I’ll be darned if top pick Farrell didn’t thank God first and then adidas second! Before anyone else, parents, coaches, agents, girlfriends (journalists … if only …), etc. Between Farrell’s endorsement and all the talk of “Generation adidas” and the implications of all the salary-exempt men on the draft, the sporting apparel giant sure got its money’s worth from MLS today.

Chivas USA: Perhaps it was luck. But even if it was, who could begrudge this little lost puppy dog of a franchise some rare good fortune? Thing is, Chivas USA’s new-old philosophy is to go with men of Mexican heritage. Other thing is, an apparently quality young man of Mexican heritage was available early in UConn midfielder Carlos Alvarez.

Thus, things fell together brilliantly.

The new deciders Chivas USA, selecting second, could have gotten themselves in trouble if they reached for a Mexican-American with such a high choice. Thanks to Alvarez’s availability, that wasn’t necessary. Again, that may be down to providence, but same difference on the end result, eh?

Alexi Lalas: Considering all the disinformation  and the regular old “throwing darts” factor attached to MLS Draft projections, what we all get past the first couple of picks is a series of lucky guesses and wild, swinging misses. Except … the ESPN analyst nailed about five of the early picks. Well done, sir.

FC Dallas: The FC Dallas table was surely shocked, but pleasantly so, to see Walker Zimmerman fall all the way to the No. 7 spot. Even if they didn’t necessarily need a center back, he was simply too enticing to pass on.

Projections for the big Furman center back were all over the place, but some had Zimmerman as high as No. 1.  It does create something of a logjam, although surplus is never the biggest problem to have. George John remains a bedrock at center back. Hopefully, Ugo Ihemelu can bounce back from concussion-related problems. And the team loves Matt Hedges, the No. 11 pick last year.

Furman University: The small liberal arts school in South Carolina is hardly a big dog in collegiate athletics. Soccer gives the Paladins a little basking time in the sun. Zimmerman was Furman’s third Top 10 MLS pick of the last nine years, and the others are not bad at all: Ricardo Clark (2nd in the 2003 draft) and Clint Dempsey (8th in 2004).

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish didn’t dominate the way Akron did a couple of years back – Five of the top 8! Are you kidding me? – although that may never happen again.  But the Irish did get two of the top 11, which isn’t bad. Besides, Notre Dame athletics needed a little bit of a distraction from recent, er, unpleasant developments, eh?

Check back for more analysis later:

Meanwhile, the Top 10 picks went like this:

1. New England Revolution, DF Andrew Farrell, Lousiville

2. Chivas USA, MF Carlos Alvarez, UConn

3. Toronto FC, MF Kyle Bekker, Boston College

4. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, FW Kekuta Manneh, Austin Aztex

5. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Erik Hurtado, Santa Clara

6. Colorado Rapids, FW DeShorn Brown, UCF

7. FC Dallas, CB Walker Zimmerman, Furman

8. Montreal Impact   MF Blake Smith, New Mexico

9. Columbus Crew   FW Ryan Finley, Notre Dame

10. Seattle Sounders FC, FW Eriq Zavaleta, Indiana

Things to know about likely No. 1 pick Andrew Farrell

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Andrew Farrell may not be the first pick in Thursday’s MLS draft, but unless pretty much everyone is wrong (I mean, we are talking Hall of Fame of Wrongness here) about the University of Louisville man, he’ll be among the first called, at very least.

So here’s your chance to get ahead of the crowd and know a little more than the next fellow about Farrell, who was born in the States and went to college in the States, but developed his substantial base of soccer skills as a boy growing up in Peru. His parents were Presbyterian missionaries; he moved there at age 5.

Farrell tells you in the video below about moving around on the field while at Louisville, sometimes playing in the midfield, sometimes at right back and then at center back, where he’s most likely to earn his MLS paycheck.

Most of the MLS Mock Drafts (like this one, and this one and this one) have Farrell going straight away. Toronto FC presently has two chances, owners of the first and third picks and clear in the knowledge that Chivas USA, choosing second, are leaning other directions.

Here’s the “Getting to know … ” video from MLSSoccer.com.

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Chivas USA has their man at No. 2: UConn’s Carlos Alvarez

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There’s one fewer mystery about the draft today.

Unless new Chivas USA manager Jose Luis Sanchez Sola has become a quick devotee of MLS Draft disinformation, he’s making no secret about which player the L.A. club will select Thursday with its No. 2 overall pick: They like UConn attacker Carlos Avalrez.

The Big East Player of the Year last fall as a senior at the University of Connecticut has done little to dent his stock during the ongoing combine in Florida. Alvarez is a playmaker who can also score. A centrally stationed figure for the Huskies, he may need to play wide in MLS, at least initially, until his soccer brain catches up with the speed of the professional game.

(MORE: Alvarez hopes for Chivas USA selection)

Alvarez is all over the highlight pack from the first game over the weekend down in Fort Lauderdale. (Thanks to MLSSoccer.com for the video.)

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MLS Draft talk: Mikey Lopez wants to go … to Chivas USA?

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UNC midfielder Mikey Lopez says he wants to go to Chivas USA. So does Big East Player of the Year Carlos Alvarez. And that’s significant with a capital “S.”

This piece from MLSSoccer.com, where Dallas native Lopez spells out his Goat-centric ambition, makes the point that circling a particular MLS destination is noteworthy in itself.

But there’s a different point I’d like to make about players like Lopez and Alvarez going on record here.

Let’s face it, if someone says he wants to go to New York to play alongside Thierry Henry, or some impressionable type says he’s jonesing to experience the high frenzy of being a hometown hero at Seattle or Portland, that’s not going to register on our shock detectors

But speaking publicly about a burning desire to wear the red stripes of Chivas USA? Apologies to all Chivas USA supporters, and to Chivas USA blogger (at The Goat Parade) and friend of PST Alicia Rodriguez, but that makes me turn my head and go “Hmmmm.” Not in a bad way.

Chivas USA can be a place where careers go to die. That goes for players and coaches. (Just ask recently deposed manager Robin Fraser.)

(MORE: quick primer on Thursday’s MLS draft)

If I’m an agent today and some says Chivas USA is interested in trading for one of my clients, I do everything in my power to kill that idea before it gains a speck of momentum. The organization remains too unstable, bereft of clear direction, guided by an owner who is all over the place.

So, when an intriguing young player like Lopez or Alvarez says he wants to go, he’s adding valuable red blood cells into the very life body of that organization. (Not to mention this: if Chivas was to select budding defensive midfielder Lopez (pictured) or budding playmaker Alvarez with that No. 2 overall pick, either would instantly engage the fast track to “legend” status around a club that doesn’t have much of that at present.)