DENVER (Exclusive to ColoradoRapids.com) - Here at ColoradoRapids.com we were able to persuade Rapids Assistant Coach John Murphy to share with us his thoughts ahead of this Friday's 2007 MLS SuperDraft. As it stands now the Rapids have six picks in this years draft. The selctions are numbers 6 17 18 31 35 and 36 Coach Murphy took the time to provide an inside analysis from his current scouting at the 2007 adidas MLS Player Combine as well as share his thoughts on the Rapids' strategy ahead of Friday's MLS SuperDraft. Check it out in his exclusive column below!
"Happy New Year everyone! I’m currently suffering though 80 degree weather here in beautiful Fort Lauderdale (it’s a tough job sometimes) at the 2007 adidas MLS Player Combine. Just kidding it has actually been pretty hectic down here as the hotel lobby is filled with MLS coaches potential professional players and a few agents sneaking around looking to make a deal.
Since arriving in Florida last week our staff has been hard at work scouting players at the Combine and trying to get our strategy in place for this Friday’s MLS SuperDraft in Indianapolis. The draft will be the culmination of several years of work travel and identification with some players that we have been tracking for quite some time. With that in mind I’m pretty fired up.
In my previous diary article I was purposely ambiguous about particular individuals that I have identified during my travels scouting so far this off-season. If it sounds like all I do is fly around the country watch games and catch a few hours sleep in a hotel by the airport I’m here to tell you that…..well actually that's it!! It is not very glamorous but it is very important.
As most people would understand I cannot discuss specifics publicly due to NCAA rules pertaining to underclassmen and we also do not want to give away any "house secrets." Our fans will just need to trust us and know that Fernando and I have done pretty well in the draft over the years. Whether it was in New England (Rusty Pierce Taylor Twellman and Shalrie Joseph) or here in Colorado (Dan Gargan Daniel Wasson and Jacob Peterson) we have a system of being able to draft promising young players in place that works.
So how do we sift through hundreds of players to get down to a handful of players that could eventually put on a Rapids jersey? Well first and foremost it comes down hard work and accruing thousands of frequent flier miles. As a rule we are not much for watching players on DVD's. We get out and watch players live and in person more than once and often for several years to track development. It requires keeping a pretty busy schedule but it is necessary if we are to build our roster through domestic players.
Secondly we use our network of college and youth coaches to update our files and gain insights on potential targets. A great example is one of our current goalkeepers Bouna Coundoul. I had watched Bouna play for Albany State during my time on the east coast back in 2003. After I joined the Rapids in 2005 several colleagues in the America East conference helped keep me informed of his development as Bouna approached his senior year. During this time Fernando would also speak regularly to his college coach who he had worked with in the old MISL. The combination of our efforts eventually brought Bouna to us here in Colorado and it has worked out very well for all involved.
Finally we understand that the MLS SuperDraft is not like the NFL version. You do not have a depth chart by position ten players deep. It is very difficult to satisfy positional needs in the early rounds of the draft due to the lack of players that can make an impact in your team within two years. It may happen but it is difficult.
My experience has led me to believe that you take the best player available regardless of position and make adjustments (trades teach a player to play a different position etc.) afterwards. If you are lucky enough to have a pick and there is more than one quality player available now you can look at #1: status (generation adidas players as an example) #2: position and #3: timeline (how quickly can this kid help us win?).
It is vital that MLS teams have at least 1 player per year to come into the team via the SuperDraft and make an impact in the starting line up. The teams that don’t get it done off the field will often pay the price of failure on it. This is what keeps me going sometimes because if you aren’t doing it someone else is.
However there are moments and players that make it all worthwhile. In the last game of the 2006 season our 3-3 draw with Houston not only clinched a playoff spot but reconfirmed the importance of our work with the college draft. With our season hanging on by a thread rookie Jake Peterson scored the equalizer in injury time thus extending our season further.
Peterson gave several performances like that throughout the year (scoring the gamewinner in LA and the equalizer at home vs Chivas) and played like a seasoned veteran. It is satisfying to think about the work that we put in tracking Jake over the years with the US U-17’s U-20’s and at Indiana. Jake is going to be a standout in our league for years to come and we got him with the twenty-first pick in the draft.
It is with that in mind that further motivates me to get out and find some more players just like him with the sixth seventeenth and eighteenth picks in the 2007 MLS Draft. Be sure to check back to ColoradoRapids.com this Friday to find out the results of the draft and who the Rapids were able to acquire.
I will be back here on ColoradoRapids.com in my next report with an overview of our time spent in Indianapolis and further insights on our draft picks that take place this Friday. Something tells me that I won’t need sunscreen for this trip………"