Monday, January 12, 2015

1.12.2015: Crewture's Crew SC 2015 Mock Draft Analysis, First Round

Gregg Berhalter needs to do much, much better in this draft. Columbus had the same #14 pick last year and picked Ben Sweat, who played once in the U.S. Open Cup, and then was shipped off to the Dayton Dutch Lions. The other picks were not much better. Fifi Baiden (42 overall) was sent to the same place and was released by Columbus after just one season. Adam Bedell (45 overall), scored two goals in sixteen appearances, but wouldn't be called an answer up front yet. At #14 again this Thursday, Berhalter should look for a player that can come in and make an impact.
 
Strikers are undervalued in the draft and usually written off, unless they're that one player being hyped. The Crew may find an impact player at that position.
 
 
Pick #14: Sagi Lev Ari, Dzenan Catic, or Miguel Aguilar-
Everyone is saying that it would be best for the Columbus Crew to pick up some defensive talent in the 2015 MLS Draft, that can prosper under Michael Parkhurst and Emmanuel Pogatetz.

But, I don't see anyone extremely worthwhile that is going to make it to pick #14, unless Ramon Martin del Campo (who's had a sluggish combine) drops that far. And even then he might not be a sure thing or worth it.

U.S. U-23 Ramon Martin del Campo, who was seen as the most likely center back in this draft to succeed, could either not make it to #14 or be bypassed by all (opinions change when team officials finally see someone firsthand).

He could be selected by #3 pick Montreal Impact, who are in need of center backs. If not, it may be hard for #4 San Jose to pass up their own product (they know del Campo best, have seen him firsthand, and can make a decision based on all of his work). Martin del Campo played his PDL ball at San Jose Earthquakes.

If San Jose says "no thanks" despite all of their hands on time with del Campo, it may be a while.

Axel Sjolberg would be available at #14. But, the big argument for him going to Columbus sits on the whole he's Swedish and Berhalter coached in Sweden and knows the language thing, but really Sjolberg can go anywhere because he obviously knows English as well (played three years at Marquette).

It's kind of a weak overall argument to sign someone based on their language, instead the focus should be on does the talent fit into the system Berhalter plays?

Sjolberg reminds me defensively of Tyson Wahl, if so he may not be the best type of defender for possessing the ball out of the back and working it up.

Sjolberg is a tall, thin, not overally quick center back with perhaps a little more coordination and skill on the ball if compared to Wahl. He's a much better threat offensively on corners, a good header of the ball both in the offensive and defensive end.

And, actually his 6'7 frame and the havoc he could create in the box might make him more useful as a Jan Koller-type target forward. You think I'm joking, but in need of a goal in the last 10 minutes, he could be good in the box.

That was the most impressive part of his video for me as a defender (as some of his highlight interceptions and tackles took a friendly bounce to a teammate instead of an opponent):



Either way, I'm not convinced that the Columbus Crew's biggest need in the draft is central defense or that the Crew will find what they want in a center back apprentice at #14. I don't think the Crew will go #14 at right back two years in a row or there is an attractive enough left back.

Instead it could be argued that forward is just as big, or the biggest need. Look at up top, we have Kei Kamara, Aaron Schoenfeld, and Adam Bedell.

The only decent threat up top out of the three of them is possibly Kei Kamara, 52 MLS goals in 193 appearances. But, it's been a while since Kamara has been in MLS or played (he hasn't played a competitive game since last Spring). Since 2013, Kamara has only scored 5 goals in 36 appearances in England.

Kamara could come back and not put much into the net, who do we turn to then?

Compared to striker, at least at center back we have two strong starters in Michael Parkhurst and Emmanuel Pogatetz, with Tyson Wahl receiving a lot of minutes as well last season. Further, Berhalter if he needs center back depth has had a lot more success acquiring talent at center back than he has had at striker. So far Berhalter has acquired  Parkhurst, Pogatetz, and Giancarlo Gonzalez at center back.

As a result, perhaps it's easier to attract a high quality defender to Columbus. So, what would stop Berhalter from acquiring another (younger) center back before the 2015 season, if necessary?

On the other hand, if it was so easy for Berhalter to sign a serious striker, you think he would've waited this long to do it? So, why not try to unearth one in the draft?

A few intrigue me from what I've read and from their stats.

Sagi Lev Ari is intriguing and would be available. 42 goals in 64 games for Cal St. Northridge says to me pure finisher. He's 25, has been in the Isreali Army, he's mature, and he's an obvious finisher type forward from his video.



Not every goal is pretty, but for Columbus it's been difficult for most of their strikers to finish chances (straightforward or not). I think Lev Ari is capable of putting what are midfield and Higuain sets up into the back of the net, in a simple manner.

Dzenan Catic is also another, 63 goals in 47 games for (NAIA) Davenport is not only impressive, but ridiculous. I've covered three NAIA Championships and it's still a good level. Someone in Lev Ari or Dzenan Catic that has stuck the ball in the back of the net so many times will have confidence that they can do it anywhere (or at least more than a striker that never has). Either way, I think both would be more prolific compared to Schoenfeld and Bedell, and perhaps Kamara who's only been a 1 goal every 4 games striker in MLS.



In another manner, if Columbus are looking to take the pain away from not acquiring Cedrick. Miguel Aguilar, if he makes it to #14 with the combine he's had, also is worth a look and then some. He's listed as a forward, but is more likely a winger and could be a heck of a rookie replacement for the loss of Bernardo Anor if his combine form can continue. Aguilar could also be converted to a back position possibly.



The thing is Lev-Ari or Catic would be an upgrade more than likely over our other forwards after Kei Kamara, and may be more useful than Kamara now (who knows?).  Even if our midfield is good, Aguilar would improve the squad and make it better.

On the other hand, I don't know if any defender available will be an answer to our back line depth issue.

Trade Up: Columbus doesn't pick again until the second round, #35. I could see trading up into the #15-#25 range for Aaron Simmons or Jose Rivas if Berhalter thinks one of them could slot in for Waylon Francis when he's at the Gold Cup.


Gregg Berhalter likes guy's with versatility and that give him options. Simmons is a guy that would give Berhalter options, a player that has played central defense and midfield for UCLA, but with his size and speed could easily be converted to an outside back in MLS and would likely be a more natural fit there. If Berhalter values Simmons, and is going the safe route in this draft, I can see him going as well at #14 (more likely than Sjolberg who doesn't really fit into a possession type, out of the back play that Berhalter likes). But, Simmons also only started 16 out of 24 games for UCLA in his Senior year, so is he a #14 pick?


Either way, in the draft expect the unexpected. Not very often, past the first few picks, does the mock drafts go as planned. So, that's why I wouldn't be surprised if the Crew address forward depth instead.

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