FT. LAUDERDALE FL (Exclusive to ColoradoRapids.com) - Colorado Rapids Assistant Coach John Murphy talks to fans exclusively in his column on ColoradoRapids.com about the latest happenings from the Rapids coaching world. Check out his latest column below!
This edition: "Previewing the 2008 MLS Combine & SuperDraft"
"Greetings from Fort Lauderdale! I am here ahead of the 2008 MLS Combine to be held from the 12-16th of this month showcasing the some of the best available talent from college soccer.
Several of these players will be selected in the MLS SuperDraft which will held in Baltimore Maryland on the 18th of the month. It is an exciting time of year as teams prepare for the upcoming season and we have players reporting to pre-season at the end of the month. All fourteen MLS clubs will have representatives here in Florida to see several games and hopefully find new talent.
In the Rapids' case these games will reinforce things we already know. The reason? Well as an organziation we take the draft very seriously as a method of improving the team. As a staff we get out to numerous college matches throughout the year track players from their freshman season on and have a strong network of coaches we speak to regularly about players to watch.
The Combine is a great event but we feel the best place to evaluate players is when they are with their college teams in a competitive environment. The Combine is held almost a month after the Final Four meaning most of these players haven't played for quite some time. It is just one of the unfortunate parts of soccer in this country; we can’t seem to get a streamlined method of organizing fixture lists that avoid either significant conflicts or stretched out periods of time with inactivity. But that is another topic for another article so I digress……
I know that fans want to hear my mock draft and who we covet but even the most rabid supporter understands that revealing those choices ahead of time would be pretty silly. We keep our list pretty confidential and work on it up until the morning of the Draft. So what I will do is go over last year’s group that we drafted and how we went about identifying them and eventually drafting them for the Colorado Rapids.
Nico Colaluca is a New England boy so we knew about him for quite some time. Actually Fernando brought him in to train with the Revolution back in 2001 so he is someone that has been on our radar before his college days.
Greg Dalby currently at Charleroi of the Belgian Fist Division was a risk from the outset but we stand by our decision as a calculated risk. The Draft is about identifying talent properly and we did so. Often times in MLS negotiations can get bogged down but as a coaching staff we cannot let that affect how we draft. It is my hope that Greg returns to play for the Rapids in the near future.
Omar Cummings was considered a big risk at the time of last year's Draft as he had injury issues and was classified a full international. But as I have said before talent doesn’t have a classification: you are either good enough or you are not. Omar is more than good enough was our 2007 Rookie of the Year and we couldn’t be happier with his development.
Nick LaBrocca had a strong Combine last year but teams still stayed away for some reason. We had seen Nick several times for Rutgers and knew he was an intelligent soccer player. He may have been the unsung hero for the 2007 Rapids Reserves but we are hoping he makes an impact with the 1st team in 2008.
Justin Hughes had an indifferent 2007 Combine experience but that did not put us off as we had him in to train with us the previous summer and were very impressed. His performance with the MLS Champion Rapids Reserves in 2007 has done nothing to hurt that assessment.
John DiRaimondo was someone who we liked for quite some time but was surprisingly availible in the Supplimental Draft. His versitility was a strength for him and his value has grown during his time with us.
Kosuke Kimura was seen on a freezing cold Chicago night and impressed immediately. His work rate technical ability and competitive nature impressed us then and Rapids fans have seen these same qualities from Kosuke as he made several key appearances late in the 2007 for the Rapids' first team.
Riley O'Neil was a handful during his time at the University of Kentucky and we felt he could be a project worth investing in. But when he decided to play in Germany we used his rights to aquire Conor Casey. This was an intelligent move as Conor impacted our team immediately.
Young players in the US are found in different ways; some are tracked over long periods of time some pop up at the last second and some (like Rapids Colin Clark and Bouna Coundoul) aren’t even drafted at all!
So the key is not the mechanism it is the ability see talent and evaluate it properly compared to the group that you have and the current standard of the league. We will prepare in the coming days to ensure this strategy will continue in 2008.
It is my hope that the 2008 MLS SuperDraft produces a few more young players that can make an impact with the Colorado Rapids. I will check back here with everyone after the Draft and give you some thoughts on how we thought it went for us."
Assistant Coach Colorado Rapids
Rapids Assistant Coach John Murphy writes his "Murphy's Law" column exclusively for ColoradoRapids.com. Check back to the website for future installments!