Our overall strategy in the mock draft was two fold: 1) we wanted to bolster the defense, and 2) we wanted to try and build more name recognition for the squad. We will let you be the judge of how well we did.
In our previous article, Siems ranted about the need for some more defense (quite exhaustingly). The Loonum Staff took that into account, but Minnesota United FC also needs to add name recognition. Atlanta United (our enemies for the purposes of the expansion draft) have the headstart in that department. Do not interpret this as us saying that there is no recognition for MNUFC (the MLS announcement proved that), but adding some players that have some national team appearances would be great.
This mock draft was held using protected lists provided by the other MLS SB Nation blogs. With that in mind, here is an unpacking of our picks.
1st pick: Graham Zusi - M - Sporting Kansas City
Easily our most controversial pick.
Zusi has a huge contract, but also has the name recognition. This was a pick that was consensus simply for that reason. With Atlanta hitting the ground running, it would be nice to see the Loons doing the same.
When we say huge, we mean huge as it appears that Zusi will be owed somewhere in the neighborhood of $750k in 2017. The rules of the Expansion Draft allows for Atlanta or Minnesota the ability to renegotiate a player’s compensation either up or down. This will need to be done with Zusi (add in Beitashour, too.) $750k for an aging player scares me.
The other big reason that we decided to pick the bearded manbun was the possibility of using him as a trade piece. I never advocate drafting players to just trade them, but I think Zusi still has enough game left in him that he could be an appealing piece for the Loons trade later.
Either way, it would be cool to have a USMNT member on the team.
2nd pick: Steven Beitashour - D - Toronto FC
A player we were surprised to see exposed, Beitashour has had a great playoff run with Toronto FC. We, the Loonum staff, will not shy away from admitting that was partially the impetus for taking him.
The biggest reason is that the Loons need defense. Yes, he plays a similar position as Venegas, but both Beitashour and Venegas can line up in the midfield as well. If that were to be the case, I think the interplay between Viva and Beitashour could be the start of something great.
3rd Pick: Zac MacMath - GK - Colorado Rapids
Thank you Burgandy Wave. Minnesota United needs a goalkeeper and because you signed a designated player to be your goalkeeper, it allows us to take the young GK.
MacMath lost his starting sport to Tim Howard when Howard returned stateside from Everton, but it was not because of MacMath’s play. He started 17 games this year and only allowed 13 goals. Admittedly, part of that was the defense in front of him, but still impressive numbers for a “backup” keeper.
4th Pick: Damion Lowe - D - Seattle Sounders
The team is familiar with his play, nominated for NASL Young Player of the Year, and could pair well in the future if the Loons decide to go with defense in the SuperDraft. This may have seemed like a stretch at the time, but it made too much sense to pass up.
We admit that when it comes to #31, we are a biased group, but we would like to see him join the Loons at the next level. He has plenty of raw talent, and hopefully Adrian Heath can bring in the right coaches to develop Lowe into a solid MLS defender.
5th pick: Baggio Husidic - M - LA Galaxy
With our last pick, we went with another midfielder. Baggio Husidic had a great season with the Galaxy playing in his defensive midfield position. He appeared in 29 games this season (starting 16 of them) and tallied a couple goals and assists.
MNUFC did not really have a holding midfield in the mold of a #6 last season Husidic is not a true #6 by any means, but he can certainly contribute on either side of the ball. His contract is a little higher than we would love (owed $150k in 2016), but that can be renegotiated.
Husidic is an interesting person, too. He spent most of his career in Chicago. Born in Bosnia, his family left in 90s and settled in Illinois. His play this past season even garnered a call up from his native Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A look at Dirty South Soccer’s picks
For the curious, here is a list of who our friends at Dirty South Soccer picked:
- Gonzalo Veron - MF/F - New York Red Bulls
- Harry Shipp - MF - Montreal Impact
- Jack McInerney - F - Portland Timbers
- Michael Stephens - MF - Chicago Fire
- London Woodberry - F - New England Revolution