The official MLS offseason is not even a week old but we are already getting ready for the second different draft. This time it is the re-entry draft which promises to be many times more exciting than the waiver draft (only one player was selected then) with the possibility to see several teams adding a player.
The draft is conducted over two distinct stages with teams having the chance to pick up a player each time. The first stage, which will be this Friday, is normally less busy of clubs selecting a player either have to pick up their existing option or if they are out of contract make them a serious offer. The second stage takes the existing contracts off the table and allows teams to negotiate a new deal with any player they select which tends to make a lot of players far more appealing.
For the most part, the best players in the RED are there because they are either coming off a season filled with injuries or they are just too expensive to fit into their former team's plans. The high price tags of many of the players will likely see them slip through the first stage and into the second stage where teams might take them hoping to secure their signature at a lower rate. Toronto has the first choice in both stages and will most likely end up selecting at least one player in the second stage as they suddenly find themselves with a lot of roster spots to fill.
One of the fun things to do in the lead up to the re-entry draft is to take a look at the players who are in there and pick out some of the top targets for TFC to look at. There are certainly a number of players who would be upgrades for TFC that are worth considering. Here are some names that jumped out for me:
Gonzalo Segares: with Ashtone Morgan at left back the position is not the team's greatest need this offseason but a veteran with a lot left to offer could be just what is needed to help the young Morgan elevate his game to the next level. The Costa Rica international is a former defender of the year for the Chicago Fire having made nearly 200 appearances for the club since being drafted back in 2005.
Danny Califf: He is a CB that many Toronto fans were wishing was heading to the club before he wound up at Chivas USA instead last season. He did not live up to his price tag for the goats and it is no real surprise that they did not pick up his option. Now 32 years old he would not be a long term solution at CB but would be a nice addition as a backup for Darren O'Dea if his price were right.
Conor Casey: Don't actually see him making a return to TFC after his last visit but the 31 year old forward makes my list of interesting names purely off the fact that he is a proven goal scorer and a big bodied threat. Bringing him in would probably leave TFC overstocked on big forwards though with Danny Koevermans, Eric Hassli, and Justin Braun all on the book.
Marvell Wynne: Another former TFC player but one who would still have a fair bit to offer if he were willing to make a return at a better price point. His time in Colorado seems to have helped his work on the defensive side of things which was always a bit questionable when he was bombing down the right for the Reds. His price tag (well over 300k) is far too steep but if he were to take a big pay cut he would be a welcome addition.
Colin Clark: He would be a bit of a reclamation project as a pair of serious knee injuries have really derailed him from reaching the potential that he showed early on in his career. He would provide Toronto with a good option down the left wing though bringing a fair bit more consistency than Joao Plata does.
Chad Barrett: He makes the list because otherwise Duncan would be disappointed with me. Fact of the matter is that it would be between CB and Maicon Santos for being the second best forward available in this draft so if for some strange reason Toronto really wants to pick a forward he might just be their man!
Justin Mapp: A proven MLS left winger who would bring a fair bit of consistency to that side of the park even if he lacks the flash of some other options. He is coming off a solid season with Montreal but they did not pick up his option (probably not Italian enough). The big question with Mapp is if he is looking to move to Europe for next season.
Ike Opara: Came into the league (3rd pick in 2010) with a lot of hype but he has yet to really deliver on those expectations. His time with the San Jose Earthquakes was sidelined by a pair of foot fractures but he seems to be fit now and ready to be a MLS starter for another club. His salary (roughly 100K) presents a risk but he has talent, age, and athleticism all on his side making him an intriguing prospect to potentially partner O'Dea in 2013.
There are almost certainly other names that stick out but one of the great novelties of this year's RED is that you can basically make a full team of TFC rejects! What fun! (no keeper for this team though)
Julius James - Tyrone Marshall - Andrew Boyens - Marvell Wynne
Tony Tchani - Julian De Guzman
O'Brian White - Maicon Santos - Chad Barrett
I probably even missed some players in making that lineup and I didn't even use the likes of Eric Avila, Jeremy Hall, Adrian Cann, Ty Harden, and Andrew Wiedeman who are still technically TFC property but will be in the draft.
Let us know who you would like to see Toronto take a shot on in either stage of the draft. The full list of players eligible for the draft can be found here but it is by no means set in stone as teams may still re-sign players this week and players may choose to opt out of the draft.