It’s MLS Draft Week; A few things you should know

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Major League Soccer’s draft is unlike some of the other major U.S. sports in one important way:  Whereas professional football and basketball employs the draft as the leagues’ predominant player acquisition tool, it’s just among one of the tools in Major League Soccer.

The international player market and, increasingly, the mechanics of homegrown signings, help stock MLS those rosters.

But the draft does remain an important element in MLS. For instance, 6 of 11 LA Galaxy starters in December’s MLS Cup win were plucked from the draft (although not  necessarily by Los Angeles, originally).

Since we’ll have some draft talk this week, it seems smart to start Monday with a quick sketch of this year event, going on Thursday in Indianapolis.

The run-up: It’s all about the combine, going on right now in Fort Lauderdale. A lot of the names about to be called Thursday are playing in a series of friendlies; most of the deciders (MLS managers, technical directors, sporting directors, GMs, etc.) are there. (Watching NFL playoff games, by the sound of it, but also monitoring the combine matches).

Sitting very, very pretty: Toronto FC has two of the first three picks. They have their own, for stinking so badly in 2012, and Portland’s from 2012 (as part of the trade that sent attacker Ryan Johnson and goalkeeper Milos Kocic to Oregon.)

Anyone else sitting pretty?: After Toronto’s first pick, the choices belong to Chivas USA,  Toronto (again), New England and Vancouver. You could do a lot worse than Vancouver, in fact, with the 5th and 10th picks. The entire draft order is here.

Rounds: Just two, so 38 picks overall. Five days later, teams will conduct a supplemental draft, where the occasional gem has been dug up.

TV: Not so much. We talked about that the other day.

Mock drafts?: But of course! Early versions are split on whom TFC will choose first, some leaning toward Furman defender Walker Zimmerman, others wondering if Louisville defender / midfielder Andrew Farrell might be first up.