2012 SuperDraft Provides Depth

The Fire added some depth with three selections in this year's MLS draft.  The club's first selection, 6'-2" Austin Berry is a center back out of Louisville that Frank Klopas described as the "best center back in the draft" and "someone that could have an impact right off the bat".  Berry was considered one of the most MLS ready players available by most draft prognosticators but will find plenty of competition for time with Cory Gibbs, Jalil Anibaba, Josip Mikulic, Yamith Cuesta, and Kwame Watson-Siriboe all expected to report to camp next week.

With their second pick (23rd overall) the club selected forward Lucky Mkosana.  A speedy attacker from Zimbabwe who attended Dartmouth and should fit in the Fire's style of play in the offensive end.

The club used the 28th pick to select 6'-2"  left back Hunter Jumper from Virginia.  Quality depth at left back is an area that needed to be addressed with only Pari Pantazopoulos backing up Gonzalo Segares at the moment.  Klopas also expressed some interest in adding players during next week's supplemental draft.

HTIOT has an excellent recap of the day's events including a few quotes from Klopas in Kansas City.

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  • Austin Perry 22 games 1 goal 2 assists. Lucky Mkosana 17 games 10 games 1 assists. Hunter Jumper 17 games 2 goals 4 assists. Berry should contribute right away with the Fire and he will learn alot from Corey Gibbs while Mkosana is a Dominic Oduro clone and Jumper is more or less like Steven Kinney; outside back that can move forward.

  • USA Today did a great piece based on players getting selected as the number one pick overall the MLS Superdraft since 2000.

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/soccer/mls/story/2012-01-11/mls-draft-first-round-pick/52505916/1

  • I'm puzzled by the first pick. Gibbs isn't getting any younger, but he was a rock for us last year. Cuesta, Mikulic, Anibaba, and Siriboe-Watson are all good and young and have the potential to get better. 6 center backs? Seems like overkill. Meanwhile at right back we have Gargan, solid if not flashy, Kinney if he can come back and be the player he was, and Anibaba can back up the position. Oh, and Pause in a pinch. At left back we have Segares, who isn't the player he was before going to Cyprus, but is still pretty good. Behind him we have Pantazopoulos and now Jumper. Oh, and Banner in a pinch, if he comes back. Feels really thin at the outside back spots. The heart looks solid, with Pardo, Pause, Grazzini, and Robayo. If anything I think the areas most in flux will be who Klopas decides to throw on the wings and up top.

  • If a team in MLS sells a player to an overseas club, do they get all the money from the sale or does it go to the league

  • In reply to colton:

    They don't get all of it.....just a percentage. They do however receive the MLS version of funny money....allocation $.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    doesnt the team get 2/3rds of the transfer fee. Up to 500K goes to player allocation and the rest goes to operating costs of the team. Ultimately it saves the owner money regardless of how it's used.

  • In reply to bcorbit:

    Yep. They changed the rule last year so clubs would receive higher percentages of the fees for different types of players (homegrown, draft picks, etc). Clubs can now also use up to $625k of that fee as allocation, which is huge in MLS cap terms.

  • I like the first pick. Cuesta and Mikulic were terrible last year. If you have a chance check out the Vancouver game played in Vancouver. The team could let them go and hopefully go with the American players and free up international space. Does anyone think that the European trips by Klopas are just vacations that are paid for by the team?

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    i actually have to disagree. the entire defensive unit had times that they looked horrible and superb. i think that mikulic and cuesta were good servicable pick ups. every player is going to have a bad game or two, even gibbs and anibaba had some off games. with yesterdays picks i think the defense is pretty much set except for possibly loaning siriboe out again. its the forward position i'm most worried about.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    I have to agree with pena on that one.....I thought Mikulic was solid early on in the season before getting hurt. When he came back he wasn't quite the same and struggled at times. Cuesta started off very well before a few horrendous games later in the year earned him some bench time.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    thats pretty much how i saw it as well. cuesta can play very well, just made some dumb youthful mistakes. experience can cure that

  • I think Berry's selection was a precursor to the fact that probably either Cuesta or Watson-Siriboe aren't going to be with the team in 2012. Just because they're on the roster now doesn't mean they will be on March 17.

    With Berry, I believe the idea likely is to have he and Anibaba be a potential CB combo for the future. I think Gibbs/Anibaba remain the starting tandem but you never know how long Cory will hold up and at some point what the cost of his contract might be compared to his age and the way he's playing.

    We'll see with Mkosana... If there's one frustrating thing it does seem the team has yet to sign a PURE finisher this offseason. Even with Chaves apparently on the way out, we still have a lot of forwards: Oduro, Nyarko, Barouch, Puppo and then Dube (if he signs) and Mkosana (if he signs). Haven't seen much of Puppo but he seems the closest to that "pure finisher" role, even so, he doesn't have a track record of bagging a ton of goals... I do wonder if there's anyone else in the pipeline up top.

    Jumper is purely a case of gaining depth at left back. I think I read somewhere that Sega only missed a combined two of the team's MLS/US Open Cup games last year and they were both because of suspension. In the Sept. 10 game at San Jose when Gonzalo was out, even though Pari was the back up, Frank shifted Gargan to the left and either put Anibaba or Pause at right back...Unfortunately I think that says a lot about the confidence level they have in Pari, who wasn't a left back by trade.

    IMO, it won't take much for Hunter Jumper to come in and become Sega's backup this season and just like with Berry, Frank's made a signal towards developing another position for the future. Gonzalo's certainly not old but the LB spot is one where depth was sorely missed last year.

    I think the draft class this year wasn't quite as strong as the past few years but all-in-all, I think the Fire had one of the best drafts in the league, when you weigh where they were picking.

  • In reply to seaside:

    Ditto....all of the above.

  • Frank did say that the team was going to go for the best possible player in the draft, unlike in past years. I don't know if that was just gamesmanship or not, but assuming it was true then is it possible that Berry may be used as trade bait?

    While I agree that Cuesta and Mikulic were uneven, I don't know that throwing a rookie on the field in one of those positions is the solution in the short term. So it may depend on what the Fire decides the strategy for this season, and the next 2-3 after that. Guillermo, any thoughts / hints from management?

  • In reply to Modibo:

    I don't think they're looking to deal Berry at all.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Berry had great reviews with his play in Louisville, but the key thing to note is he also played with Chicago's PDL team. They were fully aware of him and they know what type of player he is. If anything i think this is a great display of what it is to have a MLS run a PDL team.

    "Best possible player" does not always mean best attacking player. Quite frankly our midfield is becoming full of options. Striker and defense seems the obvious route for picks. There were some options of strikers that could come in and help, but do they fit our tactics and player pool? Klopas filled in depth and potential contributor(s).

  • In reply to bcorbit:

    Still, picking the best possible player doesn't always mean picking the best possible player who you expect to stay for the long or even short term. In other words, "best possible player" could mean a lot of things, depending on how you interpret it. But the PDL connection must have been important, and it shows the value of the team to the Fire even if it's not a direct pipeline into the senior team.

  • Sam's saying on his twitter that the Fire have traded Conde's rights to RBNY for a draft pick. I thought JCO was no longer there?

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Here's the initial report from Big Apple Soccer......

    http://www.bigapplesoccer.com/teams/redbulls2.php?article_id=29568

  • Ives Galarcep says the Conde to NY talk is legit and the Fire are supposedly receiving a good chunk of allocation $$.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Wonder if New York knows what there doing this year...and that comment "Source tells me RBNY tried including draft pick in Conde trade, only 2 be reminded by MLS they had no draft picks left. No, I'm not kidding. " made me LMAO...

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Can you buy allocation money from the league? NY throws it Portland way now Chicago, the must have a good 1/2mil to go around...Curious?

  • In reply to Adam25:

    No....you can't buy allocation money from the league. The only thing I can figure from the amount of funny money NY is throwing around for Cooper and supposedly for Conde is that they have deals in place already for Ream and Agudelo that would net them some big allocation funds in return.

  • In reply to Adam25:

    depends on whether or not they used their Jozy allocation yet. Not to mention they banked some money from Bradley's move to M'Bach as well. Just depends on whether they decided to save some allocation from those moves or whether they used it up over the years.

  • In reply to bcorbit:

    Each club is aware of what the others have in allocation money at the start of season. I believe they've long used up the Altidore and Bradley money and could be banking on big fees for Ream and Agudelo.

  • In reply to Adam25:

    That's incredible cluelessness and cements the thinking that Soler and Backe should have been fired last year. Absolutely astonishing if true.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Interesting, my guess would be if it happens he goes to Columbus...

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Montreal would have the first pick in the 2012 allocation order.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    when did the Fire lose out on his rights? did they expire this offseason?

  • In reply to bcorbit:

    Per MLS' nutty rules he's considered a returning national team player and subject to allocation.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I thought that since the Fire protected Rolfe that they retained his rights for a time period (2 years?)?

    either way i think this is the start of the 3rd year.

    I would love to get Rolfe back in Chicago, but i would not be eager to see what Marsch is going to want in place of the allocation spot.

  • In reply to bcorbit:

    I believe his status as a returning US National team player would have trumped the "two year" protected rule. MLS roster rules give me a headache. ;)

  • they can trade that pick right? then maybe we can trade part or all of whatever we got for conde for the rights to rolfe to get him back where he belongs...in fire red.

    smart move by the fire to trade conde's rights.

    i like the draft by the fire for the most part, i think it gives us a lot of depth in back and we can move forward with the best of the bunch and trade for different or future assets with the excess. midfield seems fairly well stocked too as long as pappa isn't going anywhere. that 2nd forward slot leaves me wondering if we'll have enough, but if puppo or someone else is able to complement oduro (AND if oduro maintains last year's numbers), we should have a good team.

  • In reply to Drew:

    Allocation picks/spots can be traded.

  • can you ask posada, if you ever get to talk to him, what he is doing to get people to want to spend money to see the fire? and can you ask frank or hauptman almost the same question but in regards to the quality of the team?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Posada Needs to be replaced the sooner the better with someone
    who actually knows what he is doing. It should be obvious to all of us
    now that Posada is Clueless and the "Wrong Guy to be Fire President.
    When he is replaced by someone who knows what he is doing then the
    the right changes will be made to improve the current mediocre Chicago-Fire Front Office Staff. The Chicago Area has a very large Soccer loving population we need the Right Person in charge that knows how to tap into that Fan base. Sorry Julian Posada in my humble
    opinion you are the Wrong Guy for the Fire. You had your chances and
    let the Fire Burn Out.

  • Anyone mind taking a swing at translating this article. It seems to say that Spanish DM Abraham Gonzales is interested in joining the Fire but his club doesn't want to let him go:

    http://www.as.com/futbol/articulo/abraham-tiene-oferta-chicago-ira/20120113dasdaiftb_10/Tes

  • In reply to iron81:

    Pretty much got it Iron.... Says Abraham has an offer from the Fire that he'd like to accept but his club isn't anxious to let him go. Says the Fire are waiting for him to speak to Alcorcon about an exit from the club.

    It would seem to me that Robayos signing makes the addition of Abraham very unlikely.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    unless they are having trouble signing Pardo?

  • In reply to Drew:

    Pardo deal is good as done.....he'll be here.

  • Guillermo
    Any news about Dan Gargan's Contract??

  • In reply to Juergen:

    Gargan's got a contract for 2012..... He'll be back but a few days late for camp opening. He just got married this weekend and will join up with the team in Florida.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Thank you, Guillermo for the Gargan update.
    I hope the Fire can extend Sabastian Grazzini's contract beyond July 2012 and that an anouncement on Pardo's contract will be made soon.

  • chaves out official, thats too bad...
    http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2012/01/thanks-diego

  • In reply to Adam25:

    yes....would have been a nice piece to have around

  • GR,
    going into camp this week, do you think frank did enough to make this team a title contender(able to bring home silverware) and not just a playoff hopeful(just able to make the playoffs)?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Title contender? No. But top 3-4 in the East? Yes.
    I still think they need an established finisher to really be considered anything more. Of course if Oduro can repeat his second half last year and Puppo proves he's better than just "good" there might be something cooking. They should be a pretty entertaining team to watch.

  • I have a couple of thoughts/comments. My guess on the SuperDraft selction was based bon best available with an eye toward trading some of our current roster for other needs. Regarding the departure of Diego Chaves, my thought there is that he had many, many opportunities to score with some being about as close to "sitters" as you can get and he still clubbed the shot over the bar or wide. If he finished half of the shots he should have made, he may still be with us. Also, he tended to drift too far back taking away the pressure on opposing team's backlines. The Fire need a stiker, not a striker who plays midfield. All that being said, Diego is a very good player and a good guy who gelled with the team well. My guess is that his not coming back had more to do with lack of production scoring wise than anything else. The only teams in the East that will be better than the Fire are Philly, KC (are they still in the East?), and Houston. New York is an overrated team with talent that cannot play together. We proved that last year (twice). New England and DC are still in shambles and rebuilding. Columbus is losing players and not re-tooling fast enough. Dilly Duka is no Robbie Rogers. Over the course of the season, the Crew will see that. So I say, if Pardo gets locked up, and the new signings can score more than Diego Chaves, than the Fire have improved and will be a threat to beat any team. The key is how healthy the backline will be and if they can continue their incredible teamwork that developed under Frank. Unde Carlos DLC, the backline was a disaster. Under Frank, the backline developed into a strength. Given an entire pre-season and a healthy core group, I think that line will improve. I predict Cuesta will surprise everyone with his improvement.

  • When does the fire camp start?

  • In reply to Adam25:

    They report to Bridgeview on Wednesday and will depart to Ave Maria, Florida on Friday.

  • With Zach Thornton expected to announce his retirement, I have to wonder if he will be inducted into the Ring of Fire. See new poll to the right............

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Remember they announced last year that inductions must wait at least a year.

  • In reply to iron81:

    Then there should be no excuse not to induct CJ Brown when Real Salt Lake comes to town on May 9.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    There is no excuse for CJ not being on our coaching staff.

  • In reply to colton:

    there should be no excuse for why the FO changed the ring of fire process.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Particularly because RSL will not be visiting Toyota Park in 2013.

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