Guest columnist Drew Epperley is the founder and editor of WVHooligan.com and a noted MLS SuperDraft expert. His blog covers everything MLS and U.S. Soccer. You can follow him on Twitter @WVHooligan.
FC Dallas is no different than any other club in Major League Soccer that's taken gambles over the years in the College and SuperDraft.
Some years FC Dallas has hit a home run with its first overall selection.
Other times the team’s second selection proved to be more valuable in the long run.
This year FC Dallas has the 11th pick in the first round - its only pick of the 2012 SuperDraft.
Expectations are high, as a second pick won’t be there to fall back on as in past years.
FC Dallas has picked in the first round of each MLS draft, dating back to the first College Draft in 1996 and into the SuperDraft years starting in 2000.
Looking at past draft selections by Dallas, some years were strong while other years show exactly how hard it is to get it right with only one selection.
College Draft Era
In the first ever MLS College Draft in 1996, Dallas selected defender Brandon Pollard from the University of Virginia at No. 3. Pollard was with Dallas for four seasons – playing in 114 games – before suffering a career-ending knee injury in the 2000 playoffs against the Chicago Fire.
The following College Draft wasn’t as successful for Dallas as the club selected UNC forward Temoc Suarez at No. 6. Suarez spent three seasons in Dallas, appearing in only 56 games.
In 1998, Dallas selected goalkeeper Matt Jordan at No. 10. Jordan spent four seasons between the pipes, playing in 114 games and registering a 1.41 goals against average.
The 1999 College Draft saw Dallas select three times in the first round. At No. 4 Dallas selected midfielder Lazo Alavanja from the University of Indiana. Alavanja only appeared in 25 games for Dallas while the club’s second first round pick that day, Bobby Rhine, appeared in 212 games and spent his entire career in Dallas. Rhine’s contributions to the franchise on and off the field prove that a team’s first selection may not always be the most valuable.
Dawn of the SuperDraft
The SuperDraft era in MLS kicked off in the new millennium. In both 2000 and 2001, Dallas went with an international player with their first round pick. Ukrainian-born Aleksey Korol was taken in 2000 and Bolivian striker Joselito Vaca in 2001. Both only lasted a couple of seasons in Dallas.
History was made in 2002, as it marked the first time Dallas selected first overall in the draft. With the top pick, Dallas selected Chris Gbandi. The University of Connecticut defender missed his rookie season with an ACL injury, but went on to appear in 111 games for Dallas between 2003 and 2007.
The following draft didn’t yield as much success with the No. 10 pick. In 2003, Dallas selected Shavar Thomas, who played in 15 games before being traded to Kansas City.
In 2004, Dallas had back-to-back picks in the first round at No. 6 and 7. The first pick was SMU product Ramon Nunez, who spent three seasons in Dallas. Following Nunez at No. 7 was defender Clarence Goodson, who became a three-year starter in Dallas before taking his talents abroad.
Success in the draft
In the following two drafts, FC Dallas picked at No. 6, drafting defender Drew Moor in 2005 and midfielder Dax McCarty in 2006. Both Generation adidas players became fan favorites during their time in Dallas.
In 2007, another Generation adidas player was drafted. Defender Anthony Wallace was selected 9th overall, but only appeared in 15 games over three seasons with Dallas before being traded to the Colorado Rapids.
The next two drafts saw FC Dallas select twice in the first round. With the No. 2 pick in 2008, FC Dallas selected Brek Shea, a finalist for the 2011 MLS MVP award. FCD didn’t find the same success with the club’s first pick in 2009, as FC Dallas selected Peri Marosevic at No. 5. Marosevic struggled in Dallas and was subsequently waived in 2011, but luckily the club was able to land star defender George John at No. 14 in 2009.
The last two drafts have also worked out well for Dallas, landing defender Zach Loyd with the fifth selection overall in 2010 and Bobby Warshaw at No. 17 in 2011. Loyd has been a consistent starter for FC Dallas over the last two seasons, while Warshaw saw considerable minutes off the bench and made a handful of starts in his rookie year.
Make it count
This Thursday marks the first time in franchise history that FC Dallas will go into the SuperDraft with just one pick at their disposal.
Over the years players like George John, Clarence Goodson and Bobby Rhine have shown that a warm-up swing can help the next at-bat be more successful.
Recent picks like Brek Shea, Zach Loyd and Bobby Warshaw are proof the FCD technical staff can hit a homerun with its first pick no matter where it falls in the draft order.
Time will tell if the 2012 SuperDraft will be remembered as a homerun or a strike.
But when the 11th pick comes up on Thursday afternoon, FC Dallas will surely be swinging for the fences.
Visit FCDallas.com all week and follow @FCDallas on Twitter for continued coverage of the 2012 SuperDraft.