Baltimore Blast

Old-school indoor soccer aficionados will recognize that header above as a team from the MISL (actually, they don’t have to be old-school; turns out the Blast still exists, to our surprise).

But we’re deploying it here to describe yesterday’s 2011 MLS SuperDraft in Maryland, which the BP attended, under the guise of its alter-ego the PG.

We cranked out this and this, and generally had a great time watching the proceedings up close (we sat adjacent to a dapper-looking Frank Yallop and the San Jose Earthquakes staff).

The Baltimore trip also explains why the posting rate here at the BP has slowed to a trickle (down from a drip) this week. Between draft prep, day job, and travel, the BP got shoved to the back burner.

But we’re back, late on a Friday to share a few post-draft musings, in no particular order. Here they are:

• First up, John Rooney has a rather endearing and almost totally incomprehensible Liverpudlian accent. He makes Steve McManaman sound like Richard Burton. (McManaman, we just found out, is from Bootle, a town on the outskirts of Liverpool that has the best name of any town ever.)

• We had to tweak our story on Rooney, linked above, just slightly, due to some small objections from league higher-ups. Nothing major—just concerns about the image of the league vis-a-vis top-flight European leagues.

We mention it because it diluted our point a little bit, and enough to contribute to a misunderstanding expressed in the comments: We weren’t suggesting the British press would deluge MLS with coverage just for the mere presence of Rooney in the league. Our point was that if–and it’s a big if–Rooney happened to blossom, become an MLS All-Star, and attract interest from first-division European leagues, then the British press would be all over MLS. (This was our original best-case scenario in the piece.)

Anyway, this kind of shackling occasionally comes with the territory when you’re writing for a league site. The corporate overseers have ideas about protecting the league image.

• One player we didn’t include in the “Surprises” segment of our draft wrap-up piece was Ecuadorian attacker Joao Plata, who led the Combine in scoring, then tumbled all the way to the bottom of the third round (49th overall), where he was picked by Toronto FC.

Plata is small (some said under 5′ 5″), but that never stopped Mauricio Cienfuegos back in the day , and Cienfuegos wasn’t exceptionally fast, as Plata certainly is (like, Dane Richards fast). He’ll be an interesting one to watch this spring.

• The Red Bulls’ top pick, Penn State striker Corey Hertzog, seemed curiously nonplussed to be joining the New York side—Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez be damned.

At the podium, Hertzog had the demeanor of a guy opening up a dud present on Christmas morning and trying to act pleased. That may have been due to the Philly fans jeering his selection by New York (Hertzog is from Reading, PA).

He did some damage control later, telling the league website he was pumped just to meet Henry, much less play alongside him. Hertzog scored 20 goals in college action last year, leading the nation.

• After New York grabbed Rooney with the 25th pick, they selected NC State defender Tyler Lassiter at No. 30, and Maryland midfielder Billy Cortes in Round 3 (38th overall). Coach Hans Backe described Lassiter as “a Tim Ream type, almost exaclty.”

In our view, RBNY could have added some more depth to its backline, which said goodbye to Mike Petke and Jeremy Hall after the 2010 season, but perhaps they plan to acquire another defender or two elsewhere.

• Akron had two other players, defender Chris Korb and midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong, selected in this draft after their record five in the first round (in the first eight picks), to give the Zips an incredible seven draftees from their 2011 NCAA championship team.

You’d think it would be hard to reload after that, but supposedly coach Caleb Porter (an MLS alum) will field another contender next season.

Finally, Ampaipitakwong (that’s AM-PIE-PITAK-WONG) went to San Jose (as the 33rd pick overall), prompting MLS Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle to quip, “If Ampaipitakwong and Chris Wondolowski link up for a goal, it could break Twitter.”

Have a great weekend everyone. We’ll be back on Monday.

John Rooney Finds the Net at MLS Combine

While Wayne Rooney nurses a tender ankle in the Manchester United training room, his younger brother John, 20, is busy trying to make an impression at the MLS Combine in Fort Lauderdale.

Yesterday, playing for team ‘AdiPure’ against ‘Jabulani,’ he opened the scoring in the 55th minute with this cut-back and shot:

Rooney’s teammate Jason Herrick, a striker from the University of Maryland, added a second goal and AdiPure went on to win 2-0.

Early word on Rooney is generally positive, but there have been no rave reviews. After watching the attacking midfielder in two Combine games, MLS staffer Jason Saghini said, “While he doesn’t wow you in any area, Rooney’s shown all-round qualities with passing, decision-making, and finishing.”