The MLS SuperDraft, while seemingly improving can still be something of a crapshoot. Outside the top picks, which can turn out some high-profile players, it’s job well done if you can add one or two useful depth pieces to your roster through each year’s selections.
How have Toronto FC fared since joining MLS in 2007 and making the first overall pick as an expansion team? Let’s take a look as they prepare to go to the podium again for the 2017 event.
The good: Toronto didn’t screw up the first pick and grabbed easily the best player in the class in Maurice Edu. He was the Rookie of the Year before leaving for Rangers for £2.6 million midway through his second season.
The bad: Pretty much the rest. Toronto traded their second-rounder to FC Dallas for Ronnie O’Brien, but an injury prevented him from doing much in his only year in Canada. They would later acquire the guy Dallas picked, Fuad Ibrahim, anyway. Their third and fourth-rounders did nothing but it wasn’t exactly a class littered with talent.
Grade: B. Getting Edu right was way more important than anything else.
The good: Um. One of their first-round picks, Julius James, was a main piece in the trade for Dwayne De Rosario. That’s it.
The bad: Everything else. The other first-rounder, Pat Phelan, was traded for an international roster slot and went on to play a fair bit with New England. No one else did anything and in terms of players who actually impacted TFC, it was a write-off.
Grade: D. James and Phelan showed some ability to play in MLS, albeit not with Toronto.
The good: This one’s interesting. Toronto had three first-round picks and seemingly used them relatively well, grabbing Sam Cronin, O’Brian White and Stefan Frei as well as Mike Grella in round three. Cronin and Frei are still starters in the league to this day.
The bad: Omar Gonzalez was the next pick after Cronin and in selecting White, whose MLS career did not last long, TFC passed on Chris Pontius and Matt Besler. Grella, meanwhile, decided he didn’t fancy Canada and bolted to Europe.
Grade: C. Not awful but it could have been a home run, and wasn’t.
The good: Joseph Nane was a fourth-round pick and later became a third in a trade.
The bad: Everything else. Toronto traded the fifth-overall selection to FC Dallas for Adrian Serioux. Serioux played 26 games for Toronto while Dallas’ pick, Zach Lloyd, played 180 and is now with Atlanta United. They got nothing with their later picks and traded a couple for one-season wonders Abdus Ibrahim and Nick Garcia.
Grade: F. You can really see the consistency of Toronto’s team-building in the way they hoarded picks one year and then threw them all at veterans the next.
The good: Joao Plata, at 49th overall, was one of the best picks of the draft - except TFC traded him for a second-rounder to Real Salt Lake before he got near his prime.
The bad: Another first-rounder was chucked away for a run-of-the-mill depth player in Nathan Sturgis, though Vancouver didn’t get much out of it. Toronto’s three non-Plata picks all flopped.
Grade: D. Didn’t get enough out of Plata to give them full credit for grabbing him.
The good: Both of their first-round picks played some MLS games.
The bad: Once again, those first-rounders did more elsewhere (though not much). Luis Silva and Aaron Maund both lasted about a year and their second-rounder was traded for Dasan Robinson, who didn’t play a single game.
Grade: F. Might as well have not bothered to show up.
The good: Once again, the best praise I can give is “a player played some MLS games”.
The bad: That was Kyle Bekker, who didn’t exactly provide great value at third overall when Kekuta Manneh and Walker Zimmerman were among the next picks. Emery Welshman, a late first, did nothing and TFC traded their second-rounder to Dallas for Jeremy Hall. Hall at least played a bit and the second round wasn’t particularly strong, though Dallas, typically, managed to snag a regular contributor in Ryan Hollingshead.
Grade: F. Save the air fare.
The good: This is Tim Bezbatchenko’s first draft, and - look, they got some decent players! Bez was already hamstrung by the Eric Hassli trade but the third-overall pick Vancouver got in that deal, Christian Dean, has been held back by injuries. TFC traded up for some allocation money to grab Nick Hagglund and then took Daniel Lovitz in the second round. They traded their final pick for Bobby Convey, who was in turn used to get back into the first round.
The bad: Lovitz looked reasonable for a while, but then didn’t really pan out. But a lot of second-rounders don’t.
Grade: B. A real-life MLS player still on the roster to this day!
The good: Alex Bono, taken sixth overall, looks like a future starting goalkeeper and Clement Simonin might yet be something.
The bad: Toronto had three first-round picks and might be dependent on the results of a Bono trade - Clint Irwin is only 27, remember - to get anything out of them if Simonin doesn’t earn a new contract. Skylar Thomas, who has already been released, was taken just before Tim Parker, Axel Sjoberg and Cristian Roldan. No one in the later rounds looks like doing much.
Grade: An optimistic C right now - Bono is good - but this could be downgraded in a year’s time.
The good: Tsubasa Endoh looked like a steal at the start of the season and though his progress slowed, he still has a good chance to be a solid pick in a mediocre class. The second-rounder went to Vancouver for Steven Beitashour, which is fine. Too early to say on the late selections.
The bad: Nothing glaring as of today.
Grade: B. Looking fine so far.