By Kevin Koczwara
Despite being a dominant regular-season force the last two seasons, The Los Angeles Galaxy have not been able to claim an MLS Cup in either try. David Beckham, Landon Donovan and company couldn’t get the job done when it came time to buckle down and win in the postseason the last two years. The Galaxy may have solved some of its problems yesterday when it made some bold moves during the MLS Re-Entry Draft.
Los Angeles traded up to the fifth pick (the Houston Dynamo’s pick) in the draft to select former New York Red Bull forward and designated player Juan Pablo Angel. The Red Bull’s all-time leading goalscorer did not have his option picked up by New York at the end of the season because the club had signed two other designated players from Barcelona, Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez.
The Galaxy’s pursuit of Angel shows the league that the club isn’t giving up hope on winning an MLS Cup with Deavid Beckham, and have to be heavy favorites going into next year. Angel scored 61 goals in four seasons with New York, including playoffs, and he will add to the Galaxy’s already potent attack.
D.C. United had the worst record in Major League Soccer last year, so it got the first pick. United selected 33-year-old former U.S. men’s National Team player Josh Wolff. Wolf’s contract was not picked up by Sporting K.C., formally the Kansas City Wizards. Untied has a young squad and is looking to add some depth and veteran guile to the mix to help lift it out of the doldrums of the MLS.
Chivas USA took another Kansas City player, Jimmy Conrad, with the second pick in the draft. Kansas City is looking to re-brand itself with a new name and a younger, more vibrant squad. Releasing Conrad and Wolff won’t make the transition easy, but it does free up some space and money for Sporting to go after some new talent.
Conrad spent eight seasons with Kansas City and was one of the team’s best players. Chivas will hope he can help turn Chivas fortunes around after a poor campaign last season.
Columbus Crew sputtered and didn’t live up to potential the last two years. Now, the Crew are making some changes. Frankie Hejduk wasn’t picked up by Columbus and entered the draft as one of the most experienced players in all of the MLS. The former USMNT player had an outside chance of making last summer’s World Cup, but he was too expensive and old for Columbus’s liking.
Hejduk was selected by Sporting K.C. and then dealt to Los Angeles in exchange for Luke Sassano. Sassano, 25, was selected in the first round by the Galaxy from the New York Red Bulls.
The Crew also decided to let its prized, but aging, play-maker go free as well. Guillermo Barros Schelotto was not resigned by the Crew and made it through the draft, despite being one of the league’s best players the last few years.
Columbus did draft one player in the draft to help add an attacking punch from the bench, Jeff Cunningham. Major League Soccer’s second highest goalscorer in league history helped FC Dallas reach the MLS Cup Finals last year and won the cup with Columbus back in 2008.
One team that might have thought about acquiring Schelotto would have been the New England Revolution. The Revs decided to go with Houston Dyanmo center back Ryan Cochrane with the fourth pick in the draft. The Revs lost Cory Gibbs in the draft to the Chicago Fire. New England decided not to pick up Gibbs’s option despite trading for the former Colorado rapids player last summer.
Cochrane will be one of three key center backs for the Revs with Darrius Barnes and Emmanuel Osei still on the roster. The former Dynamo man won two MLS Cup with Houston.
The Revolution took Fred in the second round, the only pick in that round. Last year Fred played with the expansion Philadelphia Union. New England will look to try and convince the 31 year old Brazilian to extend his stay with the MLS and add some creativity and depth to a midfield that lacked creative play and killer passes from the midfield.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at Kevin.Koczwara@thesoccerguysonline.com.