In Draft, United Often Scores Late

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 12, 2007

If recent history is any indication, D.C. United will do its finest work at the MLS draft today after live TV coverage ends and the Sagamore Ballroom at the Indianapolis Convention Center has largely cleared out.

That is because United's success rate in identifying players in later rounds -- and even in the days and weeks following the draft -- is often better than in the early stages.

Last year, United chose Wake Forest's Justin Moose with the seventh overall pick and later selected Rod Dyachenko from Nevada-Las Vegas in the third round. Moose played one minute during the regular season, while Dyachenko made several starts. Jeff Carroll (also picked in the third round) and Devon McTavish (a supplemental pick five days later) also showed more promise than Moose.

United's first selection in 2005, midfielder Nick Van Sicklen in the second round, lasted one uneventful season, while Bobby Boswell, virtually unknown at the time, slipped through the normal rookie channels before being signed as a free agent six weeks later. Boswell is now among the league's premier defenders.

In 2004, three rounds after selecting 14-year-old Freddy Adu with the first overall pick, United quietly claimed midfielder Josh Gros, whose flank play earned him an all-star appearance last summer and a U.S. national team invitation this month. Also that preseason, United discovered undrafted Troy Perkins, now one of MLS's best goalkeepers.

Today, United's decision-makers will have their work cut out for them during a four-round draft that, to many observers, does not have nearly as many potential impact players as in previous years.

"The talent has gotten a little more diluted; we've taken some young kids out of it [by signing them in previous years] and it shows," United Coach Tom Soehn said. "Having said that, there is always someone you feel you can develop."

Maryland's Maurice Edu is likely to be the No. 1 overall pick by expansion Toronto, and Maryland's Chris Seitz and Virginia's Bakary Soumare might go in the top five. United will have to wait and see who is available at No. 11. The club also has a late second-round pick, two third-rounders and a fourth-rounder.

"Different people see different things," said technical director Dave Kasper, who is also overseeing the club's pursuit of two or three South American players this month. "We have a list of players who have the potential to help us."

Kasper and Soehn attended the MLS scouting combine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last week and got a firsthand look at many players who go mostly unnoticed by pro coaches during the fall because of college soccer's limited television visibility. United could be in position to use its first-round selection on 17-year-old midfielder Bryan Arguez, a Miami native and U.S. under-20 national team member, or Santa Clara defender Amaechi Igwe, 19.

United Notes: Kasper said the team has had productive contract talks with midfielder Brian Carroll's agent and is hopeful the four-year veteran will be in training camp in two weeks. . . . Argentine midfielder Matias Donnet is unlikely to return, Kasper said. . . .

Chad Ashton, head coach at the University of Denver, has joined the D.C. delegation in Indianapolis and will soon finalize a deal to become an assistant coach. . . . Goalkeeper Jay Nolly, whose rights were acquired from Real Salt Lake in the Adu trade last month, is training with another European club after a tryout in Scotland. United officials have been in contact with his agent, but, as a precaution, they might draft a goalie today.

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