New England Trades Up to Nab Louisville’s Andrew Farrell with First Pick in MLS SuperDraft

2013 MLS SuperDraft Presented By Adidas

Louisville and Georgetown—two schools more commonly known for their basketball programs than for soccer—featured prominently in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft as the Cardinals and Hoyas each had three former players selected in Indidanapolis yesterday.

Louisville defender Andrew Farrell (above left) was the No. 1 pick, going to the New England Revolution, which traded up to get him, swapping the No. 4 selection and allocation money to Toronto FC for the first draft position.

Farrell, 20, was born in Kentucky but moved to Peru with his parents, who are missionaries, for 10 years of his childhood. He returned in his teen years and played at Atherton High School in Louisville before joining the recently ascendant Cardinals program.

He’s an athletic defender with decent feet who can play center back or outside back. He also played in midfield for much of his senior season at Louisville. In his junior year, Farrell was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and he was a first-team All-America and Hermann Trophy semifinalist this past season.

Louisville, which reached the final eight of the 2012 NCAA tournament, had two other players selected as midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo went in the second round (27th overall) to Montreal, and defender Greg Cochrane went 38th to Los Angeles. The Cardinals had four players picked in last year’s draft, including MLS Rookie of the Year contenders Nick DeLeon (DC United) and Austin Berry (Chicago).

The Cardinals’ Big East rival Georgetown, which reached the 2012 NCAA final, narrowly losing to Indiana, had a first-round selection in defender Tommy Muller, who went to San Jose with the 15th pick, and two second-rounders in midfielder Ian Christianson (New York, No. 22), and defender Jimmy Nealis (Houston, 37).

After New England selected Farrell, Chivas USA chose Connecticut midfielder Carlos Alvarez at No. 2 (as they said they would), and Toronto FC used the third pick on Boston College midfielder Kyle Bekker, a Canadian U-23 international who showed very well at the MLS Combine in Florida before the draft.

The star-crossed TFC, which has never made the MLS playoffs, did pretty well for itself in the draft, with ex-DC United exec Kevin Payne leading the way. The Reds traded two picks to haul in valuable allocation money, and they got two promising young Canadian players in Bekker and the speedy, versatile Emery Welshman, who can play outside back or striker. As a senior at Oregon State, Welshman (who’s Canadian, despite the surname), bagged 10 goals and four assists.

Other notable developments on Draft Day:

• Vancouver worked a deal with Toronto to obtain the No. 4 pick, which they used to select 18-year-old Gambia native Kekuta Manneh, a speedburner with tremendous upside potential, as Hubie Brown would say. Manneh scored 12 goals in 13 appearances for fourth-tier side Austin Aztex last season. The Whitecaps also added Santa Clara striker Erik Hurtado, another speedster, with the fifth pick.

• Seattle landed well-regarded Indiana striker Eriq Zavaleta, unexpectedly available at No. 10. The former Hoosier can also play defender, and the Sounders plan to use him as a center back, in the wake of Jeff Parke’s departure to Philly.

• The Colorado Rapids had a banner day, signing 22-year-old Chilean international winger Kevin Harbottle (he’s Chilean, honest) before nabbing Jamaican striker Deshorn Brown (University of Central Florida, No. 6 overall), Notre Dame midfielder Dillon Powers (No. 11), and super-athletic Cal-St Bakersfield left back Kory Kindle (No. 25) in the SuperDraft.

The day before the draft, the Rapids traded midfielder Jeff Larentowicz to Chicago for the 11th pick, allocation money, and a 2013 international slot. Larentowicz is the third prominent Rapids player to depart this offseason, following Conor Casey (Philadelphia) and Omar Cummings (Houston).

• Furman defender Walker Zimmerman, a highly touted US youth international projected as a Top 3 pick by most observers, fell to No. 7, where he was picked up by FC Dallas.

Mikey Lopez, a defensive midfielder from UNC who was tabbed as a cinch for the Top 10, fell to 14, where he was happily collected by Sporting Kansas City.

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Let’s Revisit Thierry Henry’s Player-of-the-Week Performance

Granted, it came against last-place Toronto FC, but Thierry Henry put on quite a show for a sold-out Red Bull Arena on Saturday night, setting up three goals and scoring the fourth in New York’s 4-1 victory.

We enjoyed Shep Messing’s comment after Henry created the second of the two easiest goals Kenny Cooper will ever score in his career, drawing the entire Toronto defense–goalkeeper included—to himself before laying it off for Cooper in front of an empty net:

“I mean, how much more greatness do you want to see?”

Answer: Juuust a tad more—and Henry obliged with a sensational lob in stoppage time.

Take a look:

New York kept pace in the crowded Eastern Conference with the win, but they’ve got a tougher task ahead on Saturday, when they take on Chicago, who’ll be trying to knock the Red Bulls out of second place.

That one is at 3:30, on NBC—the flagship, network channel, not its cable offshoot.

Galaxy Reels Off Fourth Straight Win, Serves Notice for the Postseason

Remember when Toronto FC eliminated Los Angeles from the CONCACAF Champions League back in March, and then the Galaxy got off to a 3-8-2 start in Major League Soccer? Seems like a long time ago now.

Bruce Arena’s men clipped that same Toronto FC side (well, an injury-depleted version of it) 4-2 on Saturday to run their record to 15-11-4 and move into second place in the West, ahead of Real Salt Lake on goals scored.

They’re doing it all in a way that should put the competition on notice—with Robbie Keane and Juninho on fire (check out their goals below), with Landon Donovan rounding back into form (he had two assists on Saturday to push his league-leading total to 14), with new veteran signing Christian Wilhelmsson fitting in—and without David Beckham.

They’ll have him back for the playoffs, which will only make them more dangerous.

Highlights:

Keane’s goals were his 13th and 14th of the year, tied for second most in the league, and the win clinched a playoff berth for the Galaxy. They’re back in action next week against Colorado.

Columbus Getting Positive Early Returns from Higuain

He may not be as good as his younger brother, Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain, but 27-year-old Argentine attacker Federico Higuain is off to a fine start as the third Designated Player in Columbus Crew history.

He had an assist in his debut this past Sunday against Houston, and last night, in his first start for the Crew, Higuain set up a goal in the fourth minute and scored one in the 58th, leading Columbus to a 2-1 win over Toronto FC.

Columbus looked dangerous through the first hour, with U.S. midfielder Eddie Gaven, Costa Rican striker Jairo Arrieta and Venezuelan attacker Emilio Renteria all joining Higuain in a fluid attack. Though of course it’s hard to say whether their dominance could be chalked up to the Crew’s skill, or a lack of the same from Toronto, who are now 5-15-5 on the season.

Highlights:

Designated Players can be a crapshoot, as the Crew have found out in the past, breaking even with their previous two—Guillermo Barros Schelotto (thumbs up) and Andres Mendoza (meh, and he had penalty-kick-etiquette issues).

If Higuain keeps this up, he’ll make the franchise 2-for-3 on DPs and could push Columbus into the crowded field of contenders in the East, where the top five teams are just six points apart.

The Crew are seven points out of a playoff spot, but have games in hand on every team ahead of them in the standings.

CONCACAF Champions League: Toronto FC 5, CD Aguila 1

El Salvadoran side CD Aguila were the consummate guests in their visit to BMO Field last night for their CONCACAF Champions League opener against Toronto FC.

They held the deepest defensive line imaginable, allowing TFC to make themselves comfortable in midfield, and their defenders kept a courteous distance from Reds attackers in the final third, letting them tee up shots at a practice-session pace (see Reggie Lambe’s 48th-minute strike).

It looked like Emily Post designed their game plan, and the lopsided scoreline could have been worse.

Check it out:

Big nights for TFC youngsters Lambe (two goals), Ashtone Morgan (two assists), and Luis Silva (goal, two assists).

Toronto returns to CCL action on Aug 28, when they host Santos Laguna and U.S. international Herculez Gomez.

MLS Goal of the Week Candidates

Variety was the name of the MLS goal-scoring game this week, as the golazos came in several forms.

Are you a fan of slick, one-touch passing? Check out the build-up to Toronto rookie Luis Silva’s finish against New England (that’s Reggie Lambe and Danny Koevermans with the combination play there).

How about gravity-defying vertical leaps? Vancouver’s Darren Mattocks, also a rookie, has you covered with a Spud Webb–like leap to connect with Jordan Harvey’s cross against Toronto earlier in the week.

Or maybe you enjoy deadly, looping, long-range accuracy? The first of David Beckham’s two goals against Portland showcased those qualities—and we have a feeling the goal-of-the-week voters will appreciate them. (The “bend” in “bend it like Beckham,” by the way, is as much up-and-down as it is side-to-side.)

Here are all five:

For our recap of all the Week 19 action, click here.

Brek Shea Is Having A Rough Week

Maybe the lanky Dallas winger had already been informed of U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans not to include him in this week’s national-team camp when he lashed out in frustration like this last Saturday:

But either way, the outburst (good stiff-upper-lip reaction from the linesman, btw) earned Shea a three-game suspension from Major League Soccer. Incredibly, he wasn’t even carded for it during the game (way to get your linesman’s back, ref), but the league’s new Disciplinary Committee stepped in on Thursday and gave Shea a three-game break.

And you know what? Maybe that’s just what he needs. He’s been run ragged after more than a year of FC Dallas games, US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League matches, national-team appearances and commitments to the U.S. U-23s. It seems like he still hasn’t recovered, as his MLS form has dipped noticeably this season.

Some time off may be just what the doctor ordered, and hopefully will return Shea to the form he found last season, when he did things like this: