By AVI CREDITOR
Don't expect to be wowed by the second edition of the MLS Re-Entry Draft now that most of the big names initially available are off the table.
Between Bobby Convey being traded to Sporting Kansas City, Bobby Boswell re-signing with the Houston Dynamo, Ante Jazic re-signing with Chivas USA and Santino Quaranta retiring, the quality of the draft pool has dropped immensely.
In addition to those more-notable moves, Vancouver re-signed veteran goalkeeper Joe Cannon and midfielder John Thorrington and traded Jay Nolly to Chicago on Monday, which excludes all of them from the draft process as well.
To a lesser extent, Seattle's Terry Boss and Taylor Graham — also initially included on the draft list — retired, and Jean Alexandre was dealt from Real Salt Lake to San Jose.
Those transactions leave a shallow player pool that hardly resembles last year's inaugural Re-Entry Draft field, which included the likes of Juan Pablo Angel, Josh Wolff, Jimmy Conrad, Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Cory Gibbs.
As a result, fullback Hunter Freeman and midfielders Andy Williams, Arturo Alvarez and Baggio Husidic are among the top remaining candidates — from a talent standpoint — up for grabs heading into Monday's first stage of the draft. The costs associated with those players, though, make them unlikely selections until the next phase.
Alvarez (who was on the books for $201,922.50 in guaranteed compensation in 2011 according to MLS Players Union documents), Freeman ($160,833.33), Husidic ($124,500) and Williams ($99,225) are unattractive options under the rules of the first stage, which stipulate that teams must either meet existing contract options or extend offers contingent on players' age and years of MLS service at a guaranteed rate for next season.
Those who may be more appealing under those regulations include lesser-touted players like former Toronto FC fullback Danleigh Borman ($42,000), Vancouver Whitecaps fullback Jonathan Leathers ($42,000), Seattle Sounders forward Pat Noonan ($48,000), New England Revolution midfielder Pat Phelan ($60,000) and Portland midfielder Peter Lowry ($61,666.67) — players who won't necessarily sell more tickets but can provide servicable depth at a reasonable cost.
Much like last season, though, it's doubtful that there will be a flurry of action — if any — prior to next week's second stage, and Monday's portion of the draft could last all of a minute while the majority of the league's 19 teams pass and prepare for the second phase, when they are able to snatch players up at a discounted rate.
What do you think of the watered-down Re-Entry Draft field? Is there anyone out there you'd want your team to take a chance on and select in the first stage?
Share your thoughts below.