Friday, January 18, 2008
Wizards Go Defensive in Draft
The Wizards had a much more offensive mindset last season, as the team made it all the way to the conference finals. With the departure of Eddie Johnson looking likely still, one would have expected the Wizards to try and reload offensively through the draft, taking guys like Patrick Nyarko or Eric Avila.
Instead, though, the Wizards went with a much more defensive approach to the draft. Of the 6 picks that the Wizards had today, 5 of them were defenders.
The team started the day by taking UCLA right back, Chance Myers. Myers has been a member of the US youth system and was called into the U-23 camp this January. Myers is a Generation Adidas player and will not count against Kansas City's cap.
With the 11th pick, the Wizards took a player from the national runners up this past season, Roger Espinoza. Espinoza had a stand out College Cup, and showed impressive skills in the final, where he scored Ohio States lone goal in the game. Like Myers, Espinoza is a Generation Adidas player.
Into the second round, the Wizards selected another defender, Yomby William from Old Dominion. William was probably the oldest player in the draft, at 26. He missed quite a bit of time in college due to injuries. He's the Wizards first Cameroon player since Samuel Ekeme back in 96.
With their second, second round pick, the Wizards picked another player with U-23 team ties,
Jon Leathers of Furman. Leathers had been called up for the U-23 tour of China in late 2007. He played in the center back position with Aaron Hohlbein for much of the second half of the second game in China.
In the third round, the Wizards took Matt Marquess of Santa Clara. Marquess was a D-III transfer to Santa Clara, playing his freshman year at D-III power house, UC-Santa Cruz. While listed as a defender on Santa Clara's site, the MLS draft tracker lists him as a defender/forward.
With their final pick of the draft, the Wizards selected their fifth defender, selecting Michigan State product Rauwshan McKenzie. Played right back all four years for the Spartans.
I am honestly surprised with the way that the draft went for the Wizards. I was expecting 1-2 defenders to be taken to help fill holes, but not 5. I was thinking we'd see a forward or 2 taken, maybe a midfielder, and a goalie. Instead we get two players with US youth international experience, a midfielder that's shown flashes of brilliance, and 3 more defenders that will come in and push for spots on the Wizards back line. Not the best draft for the Wizards, but one that addressed some of the team's needs.