The first round of the MLS re-entry draft is in the books, and the result of the new process to improve player movement among clubs is……meh. Every club had a chance to select the 35 players who, due to time in the league and contract status, were available for selection. All but two passed until the second round next week, where less stringent salary rules will allow clubs to potentially save a little money. In fact, the lack of action today sets up an intriguing second round, where some high-profile names like Jimmy Conrad will be in high demand for a lower cost.
The first pick went to D.C. United, who selected Houston’s Joseph Ngwenya. The forward is no superstar, but is speedy and for United, depth and options at striker are absolutely needed. Ngwenya has international experience and spent a little time in Bundesliga and La Liga. Most importantly, his negotiated salary should be about $78,000, not a large cap hit at all.
The second and final selection in the draft was Columbus taking Aaron Hohlbein from Sporting KC. The 25 year old defender has spent very little time in MLS, instead spending most of his career in the lower leagues, but he again adds depth to a Columbus team that has been going through a purge of players and desperately needs some young(er) players on the team. And again, he is very cheap – he will cost the Crew around $40,000 next season.
The rule that selected players had to basically keep their 2010 salaries/option is to protect the players, I understand, but it made for a fairy worthless draft day. If MLS plans to keep the re-entry draft the same next year, they should consolidate the draft into back-to-back days; I doubt in the future that first round picks will be hard to sign. On to the second round – next week will be a test in team building strategy. For a club looking for a name player on the downside of their career, but one who is still productive, and can be had at a cheaper price, the 15th is their day. For struggling clubs like Columbus, Chivas, or DCU they can pick up a player who can either address a need, add some star power to their club, or both. For playoff clubs, adding an Angel if he falls to them is a chance to gamble that they can get that final piece for an MLS Cup run. I expect most, if not all teams, to participate next week.
What do you think of the re-entry draft so far? How would you change it?