The Lead

Let’s just say there is a certain kind of sports writer. They refer to journalism school as “J school.” They love one-sentence paragraphs, talking about the Sacred Rules of the Holy Press Box, spending four days to write an 800 world article on something that isn’t a match report, and voting in Hall of Fame awards. And they love drafts.

The good thing is for reporters stuck on the soccer beat is that Major League Soccer has one. And it’s SUPER.

It’s that time again, when the entire US Soccer press corps descends on some Midwestern locale to see which club will pick which NCAA star first. The draft itself is preceded by a lot of amusing but ultimately insignificant speculation on who will go where. There is breathless talk of traded first round picks, allocation money, who Chivas USA will pick if their guy gets picked up by someone else, and—if you’re Canadian—a lot of puff pieces on Kyle Bekker. There are mock drafts.

I would say (without any solid evidence) it’s probably the most reported-on event in the MLS calendar, even exceeding the All Star game and the MLS Cup final. The real question for people who want their MLS team to win is does the draft matter?

Well, yes. It’s not rare for early picks in the draft to form the regular core of an MLS first team. Clubs aren’t exactly separated by a gulf in resources or playing ability, so one or two players might the tipping point. I’m all aboard the notion that the SuperDraft is a pretty big deal.

It’s for that reason that I’m always slightly flabbergasted in the paucity of real, empirical data on just what exactly each player might offer, beyond the few broad superlatives of writer who may have watched them a handful of times playing college ball. Part of that is because the meaningful data doesn’t exist for any footballers at the moment.

The persistence however—and some would say minor importance—of the MLS Combine, the series of training matches that precedes the draft, is alarming. That scouting directors are at all using such a small sample size to change or adjust their selection strategy, one that ideally should rest only on several seasons’ worth of data alone, puts the entire draft exercise into question.

Of course not all clubs rely much on their combine scouts, clubs like SC Kansas known to pay for involved player data. With the North American obsession with advanced sports statistics, the relative even playing field offered by the draft should be a golden opportunity to develop reliable NCAA player metrics for public consumption. Because the faster the average fan can look to data rather than platitudes to evaluate just who their club is considering, the faster we can neutralize the insane media parade that surrounds the damn thing.

Canada

Women’s soccer team finishes second at Four Nations tournament.

England

Wenger reveals he’s been following Cavani and Zaha.

Benitez silent after Guardiola’s Bayern move.

West Ham’s Allardyce says referees favour United, after FA Cup loss.

Suarez says referees treat foreign players differently.

Italy

Boateng invited to United Nations’ racism event.

Quintero would rather play for Inter than United.

Pirlo the only Italian in UEFA’s team of the year.

La Liga

Guardiola’s agent reveals reason the former Spanish international choose Bayern Munich.

“It will be hard for Pep to handle Sammer, Rummenigge and Hoeness”-Former German international Bernd Schuster

Germany

Holtby could move to Tottenham sooner than expected.

Bayern want to win title and dedicate it to Heynckes.

Bit and Bobs

Experts discuss why Guardiola choose FC Bayern.

Cartoon: Bundesliga profile rises with Guardiola signing.

Tevez slapped with driving ban after failing to understand the word ‘constabulary’.

Photoshoot of pregnant Shakira with Pique.

Comments (5)

  1. In my days, there has never been so much fanfare over a managerial appointment.

    He’s not heading into a rebuild. He’s not taking over a team that shies away from firing managers at will. He’s not taking over a team that has seen a lot of recent success. He’s not taking over a team willing to spend 75m euros on a player just to sell him for a third of the price a year later. He’s not taking over a team with Messi.

    Boy, Pep better really know wtf he’s doing.

  2. yeah like Arsenal has any chance of getting Cavani

  3. Arsenal has zero chance of getting Cavani (he just signed a new contract with Napoli) and Zaha. Wenger needs to wake the f**k up and realize that there is only two weeks left in transfer window. He needs two players minimum if he wants to qualify for Champions League next season. We are pathetic theis season. The only bright spot on the side so far has been Jack Wilshire and Santi Cazorla.

  4. Ummm, dumb question….American sports media do realize that, unlike football and basketball, the best talent doesn’t come out of the NCAA….right?

  5. Not sure if you meant disrespect on purpose but wording it as Pirlo the only Italian to make the list, at least we have a player on the team, wheres England…oh right

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