BALTIMORE -- Walking into the Baltimore Convention Center on the morning of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, I had high expectations for the day's event.
It didn’t disappoint.
Tied together with the NSCAA Coaches Convention, the building was for me a veritable walk down memory lane, as former teammates, coaches, officials, friends and even some friendly foes were all over the place.
Supporters groups filled the seats in the room and fueled the energy throughout the first round. It was an incredible atmosphere that really represented MLS so very well. But inside the ropes and behind the scenes is where the draft really happens.
It wasn't until after FCD selected Bobby Warshaw from Stanford University that I learned how well club staffers knew him. Technical director and former Penn State coach Barry Gorman has actually recalls seeing the Pennsylvania native play soccer when he was twelve. To say the club knows what the Stanford captain is capable of is an understatement.
In case you're curious, FCD has a detailed scouting system they employ when it comes to finding collegiate players. Out of necessity, college scouting occurs during the MLS season; to adequately identify talent, FCD’s coaching staff splits up travel at various points throughout the year to see an incredible number of games.
How is it done typically?
It’s divided by conference. Coaches overlap as draft time draws closer, and reports are due following the scouting. That's how opinions are formed and players discussed well before draft day ever rolls around.
However, this draft was a little bit different for FC Dallas than in years past. A large part of the pieces remain intact for the team that won the Western Conference Championship, so instead the challenge was to add depth and competition to enhance what was already in place.
Did they succeed?
Absolutely. With preseason training starting on January 31, anticipation for the coaching staff and the draftees only grows stronger. This has been a fabulous week and a true celebration of the game we love. When the 2012 draft takes place in Kansas City next January, you must make sure you're there.
*Note: Thoughts and prayers are with FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman, who missed today’s draft due to a death in his family. However, the FCD manager remained in constant contact with the technical staff as they carried out the draft plan.