Friday, January 14, 2011

What is a SuperDraft?

At HITS we try to keep you as current as possible in the world of sports, and from time to time we try and educate the masses on sports topics you may have heard, but not necessarily knew much about. Case in point: the MLS SuperDraft.

What is the SuperDraft?

Soccer is growing in the United States. Want to know how I know that? Because sports writers and sports talking heads have told me so. I don’t actually for sure know if it is growing, but I hope those claims are true. It is however, safe to say that it is becoming more and more trendy, and trends can turn in to followings—so I guess maybe it is getting bigger. Whatever, that’s not the point. The point is to keep you ahead of the curve and break stuff down, explaining things like the MLS SuperDraft in layman’s terms. This way if soccer does break into a NFL, NBA and MLB status some day, you can be the guy people turn to because you were there at the beginning. An insider. Status and saving face; isn’t that what life is about?


If you heard ‘MLS Draft’ you wouldn’t really think anything of it. You know what a draft is and the basics of them. But when you hear the word ‘SuperDraft’ the mind instantly assesses the addition of the word super injected into something which was once familiar, and then it becomes foreign. It is not as complex as you think it is. A decade ago, when the sport was still trying to decide how they wanted to do things, there were two drafts.

1) The MLS College Draft and;
2) The MLS Supplemental Draft

The College Draft—exactly how it reads—was a draft for players graduating from their respective universities. The Supplemental Draft was for players who were currently graduated and/or playing in the United Soccer Leagues. The United Soccer Leagues (USL) work just like Major League Baseball’s farm systems do, except the teams in the USL are not owned and operated by the big league club. Hence players can be drafted by any of the MLS teams.

In 2000 the league decided to merge the two drafts in to… wait for it… a SuperDraft. You say, “If there is only one draft, why not just call it the MLS Draft?” Well, ‘lil sports learners, the Supplemental Draft made a comeback in ’03 but then went away in ’04, only to comeback again in ’05 and stick around until ’08, when it was again disbanded. This is where it will start to get a bit fuzzy.

All of this had to do with creation and disassembly of MLS Reserve Division. The MLSRD was created for teams’ reserve squads to play a 12 game schedule against other reserve squads. The teams would technically play under the MLS team name too. It got quite confusing to keep track of all these different teams. For those of you who like to keep score at home, we have the United Soccer League breaking down in to three units consisting of the UPL First Division, UPL Second Division, and the Premiere Development League (PDL). Then there is the MLS Reserve Division and finally the actually MLS. Why so many teams? What’s happening?! Why are they doing this? “Is this real life?

They do this to make it as confusing as possible for anybody trying to introduce themselves to the sport, to the point they say, “To hell with this wishy-washy sport, I can’t keep up. This is why soccer will never catch on. I’m watching basketball.

OK, that’s not why they’ve organized the sport, but it is something to consider when analyzing the popularity and growth potential. Truth being told, they probably added all of these various divisions because a lot of people love to play soccer and why not make an outlet, ya know? Don’t worry too much about it because it can become overwhelming if you let it. Fortunately, the Reserve Division was put away in 2008, so all we have to keep track of at this point is the actual MLS and the USL’s three-part farm system…

…except they just brought the Reserve Division back again for 2011 sooo… yeeeaaaauuuhhh.

Moving on. Now that we know of the various levels one can play at within the realm of Major League Soccer, and the history of the draft, we can look at how the actual draft turned out this week. I had a few impressions.

Key Observations from Thursday’s 2011 SuperDraft:

Observation #1
Everybody selected in the MLS SuperDraft played at the University of Akron. No, not really, but almost. Five of the Top-8 picks did however.

Observation #2
The SuperDraft is a 3-Rounder. Nice and tidy, just like the NBA (two rounds). The NFL has seven rounds, but NFL teams are bigger and guys get injured all the time, so it is not as big as I think it seems. The MLB is flat out ridiculous—just another reason to switch to cricket—and can have up to 50 rounds. No thanks.

Observation #3
The Seattle Sounders FC did not have single first round pick, but somehow had four second round picks, and five overall (more than any other team except the New England Revolution). I’m still digesting the no-first-round-picks if this helps them or not. I’ll get back to you.

Observation #4
During a commercial before the draft, I saw Chris Hemsworth, the guy who played James T. Kirk’s dad at the beginning of Star Trek (2009). He is playing the lead role of Thor in the movie of the same name. Three words:


He didn’t just get swole, he got swoleder. Shwapped and swoleder = buff. Like Brad Pitt in Troy, Hugh Jackman in Wolverine, Christian Bale in Reign of Fire/Batman Begins/The Dark Knight, Ivan Drago Rocky IV. It got me thinking: How sweet would it be to get paid a couple hundred thousand to a couple million dollars, to get BIG?

30 second day dream:

Studio Executive #1: Mr. Fish, we’d love to offer you the role on the upcoming comic book blockbuster [making two brackets with thumbs and pointer-fingers, unfurling an un-seeable banner in the air, exclaiming]: Colossus.

Turning to my agent, and seeing him give me a confirming nod and multi-million dollar cha-ching fist pump: Absolutely studio-excutive-movie-making head. When do we start filming?

Studio Executive #2: In 10 months. We need you to start working out immediately. We’ve made all of the arrangements.

Standing up as the meeting concludes, shaking hands, perma-grin on my face: This is awesome, I won’t let you guys down. Nothing but chicken and water for me boys!

Superficial laughs exchanged, heading towards the office door, Executive #2 speaks: Haha, among other things.

Me: Haha.. huh?

#1: This is Hollywood. Not the Baseball Hall of Fame. Little boost aren’t going to get you kicked out of the box-office.

Wheels beginning to turn slowly… little boost ‘aye: You got it. I’ll be huge, just what you need.

Executives’ 1 and 2 glance and each other, #1 speaks: We need you Colossus.

Agent gives them the winking, click-click, double-guns you-got-it, while I take the envelope containing my 2 million dollar advancement check and head to the gym.

Observation #5
Alexi Lalas’ burns are pretty tame. Comparatively speaking. At the start of the World Cup last summer, they were a bit too unruly for TV, but he trimmed them down. Some people still don’t like them. The Boss had made several references to them, but I don’t think she remembers what Alexi used to look like on a daily basis in his heyday.

Observation #6
The Vancouver Whitecaps made out like bandits with forward Omar Salgado and mid-fielders Michael Nanchoff and Jeb Brovsky. Nanchoff especially; that guy can create.

Observation #7
Blake Griffin is a mad man. Nobody expected this type of game or season out of him. 22 PPG and 12.7 RPG. Everybody is loving it. On Twitter, LeBron James and Michael Vick have been tweeting back and forth about Vick coming down to Miami and playing point guard. It’s all been in good humor. I tweeted at both of them and suggested that LeBron come up to Philly and play wideout instead of Vick heading south. Big surprise, but I didn’t get a retweet if you can believe it. Anyhow it brings up an interesting thought. LeBron has the size and athleticism to make the jump to the NFL, more so than I see Vick with the finesse to run an NBA offense. BUT, could you imagine Blake Griffin as a defender in the MLS or English Premiere League? Clearly he’d have to get his conditioning up and he’d drop some of his size because of it, but my goodness, can you imagine. An enforcer out on the soccer pitch. I’d love to see an old McWorld commercial about it.

Observation #8
Back to the Thor movie. Natalie Portman plays the leading lady in the film. On my count, that now puts her in 4 movies slated to release in a 10-month span. Girl is putting in work. I’ve also noticed the same explosion with Oliva Wilde and Elizabeth Banks. Black Swan, Thor, Your Highness, No Strings Attached, Tron, Cowboys & Aliens, The Next Three Days (x2), and The Change-Up. It seems like these chicks are in every movie being released. They’re everywhere. Do they ever rest or have time for themselves. It reminds me Dion Sanders.

Dion Sanders played BOTH sides of the ball in the NFL. Danny Woodhead of the New England Patriots technically did it this year, but nobody has done it like Dion did. Dion was an impact player on offense AND defense. Will that ever happen again? Plus you have to factor in the Dion also played professional baseball—at the same time he played football—too! And he was good at both! Is anybody even athletic enough to do it? Is the Vick to Miami Heat or Blake Griffin to the Seattle Sounders FC not so much of pipedream?

There is almost too much to take in. I’m blame the SuperDraft for data overload.

This weekend’s NFL Playoff Picks:
HOME team in CAPS

STEELERS over the Ravens.
FALCONS over the Packers.
Jets in an upset of the PATRIOTS.
BEARS over the Seahawks, unless Marshawn Lynch causes another earthquake. At which point a possible rematch of Seahawks vs. Steelers will definitely create some momentum.

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