Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Look at Vermes Drafting History

Since taking over the KC Wizards Technical Director role in 2006, Peter Vermes has developed a reputation for his player scouting and his ability to find quality players to bring in. Part of that has been his ability to find talent in the draft, with players like Dom Dwyer, CJ Sapong, Matt Besler, and Graham Zusi on his resume; it's certainly hard to argue with much of that. What I'm doing here is I'm taking a look at the draft classes for Sporting KC since Vermes took over as technical director in 2006. Obviously the 2007, 2008, and 2009 drafts also have to give credit to Curt Onalfo as well as the head coach of the team at that time, but Vermes had plenty of say in those discussions as well. Along with the picks themselves I'll look at the trades Vermes has made involving the picks in question because I think those are important to look at when compared to the draft.

Michael Harrington - 1(3)
Edson Elcock - 3(29)
Kurt Morsink - 4(42)
Aaron Hohlbein - Sup 1(3)
Michael Todd - Sup 2(16)
Chris Konopka - Sup 3(29)
Eric Frimpong - Sup 3(30)
AJ Godbolt - Sup 3(32)
Michael Kraus - Sup 4(48)
Willy Guadarrama - Sup 4(52)

Not a bad class here, headlined by Michael Harrington at the third overall pick, he made almost 150 league appearances for Sporting KC during his time with the club. The Wizards traded their second round pick in the draft, the 16th overall selection to the LA Galaxy for Kevin Hartman. And after the team parted ways with Bo Oshoniyi and lost Will Hesmer in the expansion draft, they needed a new goalkeeper and got one of the best in league history. KC's third round pick Edson Elcock stuck around with the club for a year, but never played in a competitive game, just making reserve appearances. In the fourth round, KC was able to get another contributor, Kurt Morsink who made over 40 appearances for the club during his time with the Wizards, before being traded to DC to join back up with Curt Onalfo.

The Supplemental draft saw Kansas City add just two contributors in their seven picks. Aaron Hohlbein selected in the first round appeared in over 40 league games in central defense. Michael Todd, who the Wizards took in the second round of the draft didn't make the roster, and only ever played in the PDL after KC drafted him. In the third round of the draft, KC ended up with three picks in four in the middle of the draft. With their natural pick, the Wizards grabbed their third string goalkeeper, Chris Konopka. He made a couple reserve appearances, but that was it. He ended up heading to Ireland for a few years before returning to MLS and has been with Philadelphia and Toronto. KC got the next pick, the 30th from Salt Lake as part of a trade for Diego Walsh. KC picked Eric Frimpong. The Ghanaian never made it to KC, he was charged with sexual assault, imprisoned, and eventually deported from the United States. After a Chivas USA pick, KC was back on the board selecting AJ Godbolt. Like Elcock and Konopka, Godbolt just made reserve appearances for KC. Finally in the fourth round the Wizards selected Michael Kraus with a pick they received from FC Dallas for the rights to English forward, Alex Smith. Kraus was the only supplemental pick beside Hohlbein to make a league appearance, playing 11 times for KC. KC also acquired the last pick in the draft from the Houston Dynamo and used it to select Willy Guadarrama, who played with the reserves but never with the first team.

Overall a decent class held up mainly by Harrington and the trade for Hartman. With the number of picks that KC had and where the team was at the time, the fact that they only got real meaningful minutes from only three of the 10 players is disappointing though.

Chance Myers - 1(1)
Roger Espinoza - 1(11)
Yomby William - 2(23)
Jonathan Leathers - 2(25)
Matt Marquess - 3(39)
Rauwshan McKenzie - 4(53)
Pat Healy - Sup 1(11)
Vicente Arze - Sup 2(25)
Tom Gray - Sup 3(39)
Andrew Kartunen - Sup 4(53)

One of Kansas City's better drafts, but when you get two first round picks, and two Generation Adidas players that pan out it's really hard to ever argue with the draft. It took Chance Myers a few years to come good but he's turned into a solid right back for Kansas City. The Wizards had acquired the pick in a trade with the expansion San Jose Earthquakes for Nick Garcia, who never really was the same player after leaving KC. Then with the 11th pick, Kansas City grabbed Roger Espinoza who has played in 113 league games, represented his country in two World Cups, an Olympics, and has returned from Europe to Sporting. Overall a successful first round. In the second round, the Wizards had two picks, first selecting Yomby William with a pick they acquired from Chivas USA for Alex Zotinca. William appeared in a few reserve games but was eventually waived as the team signed Kevin Souter from their open tryouts. With their natural second round pick (that they'd traded to LA as part of the Hartman deal but got back in exchange for Shavar Thomas) the Wizards selected Jonathan Leathers. Leathers appeared in 33 league games over three seasons with KC before being taken by Vancouver in the expansion draft. The third and fourth round of the superdraft saw KC draft two players that made a handful of league appearances for KC, Matt Marquess and Rauwshan McKenzie. Both spent two years in KC, but McKenzie has gone on to play small parts for Salt Lake, Chivas, and Portland since leaving KC. While Marquess is out of the game professionally.

The supplemental draft for KC brought them nothing. Pat Healy and Tom Gray came into preseason camp but both were let go early on in preseason. Both have played some in the minor leagues in the US, Healy still plays for the Baltimore Blast in the MASL. Vicente Arze signed with the Vancouver Whitecaps (their minor league incarnation before their MLS expansion) before the draft took place and never came into camp with KC. He's spent time all over the world playing including Bolivia, Belgium, Iran, and the Ukraine. Kratunen came into the team late, after he'd finished school, trained with Kansas City and became a league keeper for one season.

Matt Besler - 1(8)
Doug DeMartin - 2(22)
Graham Zusi - 2(23)
Neal Kitson - 3(42)
Akeem Priestley - 4(50)

This draft has arguably turned into the best draft in team history with the performance of two of their first three picks. Selecting home town Besler with the eighth pick has turned out well as he's played 150 league games for KC and is now the team's captain. Zusi isn't far behind him, having played 147 games in league play and is easily on his way to having the second most assists in team history. The pick right before Zusi, the Wizards acquired from Colorado in exchange for Jose Burciaga. KC selected Doug DeMartin who didn't make the team but ended up spending a season with the Timbers USL team before leaving the game professionally. In the third round, the Wizards traded their natural pick to the New England Revolution in return for Adam Cristman. The forward though suffered with injuries during his lone season in KC before following Onalfo to DC the next year. KC did get back into the third round though with a pick from Salt Lake that they acquired as part of the deal that sent Yura Movsisyan to Salt Lake. With that KC selected Neal Kitson, which on the surface looked like a nice pick up, but an injury that he concealed was found during his physical and he was let go. KC's final pick, Priestley, was selected with a pick KC acquired from Dallas for an international roster spot for the 2008 season. The Jamaican international played in Azerbaijan and in the US lower divisions. KC traded their natural selection to Colorado as part of the deal that brought Herculez Gomez to KC.

Teal Bunbury - 1(4)
Korede Aiyegbusi - 2(20)
Nick Cardenas - 3(36)
Mauro Fuzetti - 3(41)
Ofori Sarkodie - 4(52)

Here Kansas City got a lot out of their first round pick, Bunbury played over 100 games in all competitions for KC and scored 24 goals during his time in KC. The rest of the draft though didn't give much. Korede Aiyegbusi played in eight league games over his three seasons in KC before moving abroad and playing in the lower divisions in Finland, Switzerland, and Germany. The other three picks, Nick Cardenas, Mauro Fuzetti (acquired with a pick from New England for an international roster spot), and Ofori Sarkodie did not make the team with none of the three really making it professionally in the game.

CJ Sapong    1(10)
JT Murray    2(32)
Konrad Warzycha    3(46)
Sam Scales    Sup 1(10)
Mike Jones    Sup 2(28)
Michel Mravec    Sup 3(46)

Once again, KC got a good pick up in the first round of the draft, selecting Sapong with the 10th pick. He'd go on to score five his rookie year in league play and add five assists on his way to winning rookie of the year. He finished his KC career with 27 goals in all competitions in over 140 games before his trade to Philadelphia. KC's second round pick, the 28th overall had been traded to Philadelphia in exchange for Shavar Thomas in 2010 as Vermes tried to fill in holes in his defense. KC did get a pick though as part of the trade that sent Luis Gil to Salt Lake, KC selected JT Murray who never played a game with KC but spent time in the USL. With their last Superdraft pick, Sporting took Konrad Warzycha. After missing a season with an injury, Warzycha made a couple appearances for KC in 2012, but was gone after the season. He hung on with Columbus for a season but has since not played professionally.

In the Supplemental draft KC did not get much either. Sam Scales, their first round pick did not make the team. Second round pick, Mike Jones made the roster, but did not play in any games for the team. He didn't even get a game in Chicago when KC was so short on defenders that Roger Espinoza played center back. Jones went on to play one league game for New York before playing in the Danish lower divisions. Final pick, Michel Mravec didn't make the team but has spent time in different European leagues and also part of the 22 players that walked out on the Seattle Impact.

Dom Dwyer - 1(16)
Cyprian Hedrick - 2(30)
Shawn Singh - Sup 1(16)
Pablo Punyed - Sup 2(35)
Stefan Antonijevic - Sup 3(43)
Kyle Miller - Sup 3(54)

Two years later, Sporting getting Dwyer with the 16th pick seems like highway robbery he's been everything that Sporting has really needed at the forward position. In the second round, Sporting had picked up a pick from Dallas in exchange for Kevin Hartman in a deal that helped bring about the Re-Entry Draft. Hedrick spent a season with KC before being let go. Since he's spent time in the USL with Arizona and OKC. KC's natural second round pick went to Philadelphia to finish off the Shavar Thomas trade.

The Supplemental draft saw KC at one time have the fifth pick after a trade with Chivas USA that sent Ryan Smith to California. KC sent the pick back to Chivas for Paulo Nagamura. With their natural pick, Sporting selected Shawn Singh who made the team for a short time before KC picked Seth Sinovic up off waivers. With their second round pick, KC selected Pablo Punyed who didn't make the team but has since found a spot in Iceland and has gotten caps for the El Salvador national team. In the third round, KC had picked up a selection from Chivas as part of the Smith trade that they used on Antonijevic. The defender didn't make the team but has had a successful run in the NASL. With their natural selection, Sporting selected Miller, who had played in KC's academy but did not qualify as a home grown player. KC's fourth round pick was sent to San Jose in return for the rights to Michael Thomas (who had been a second round pick in 2010).

Mikey Lopez - 1(14)
Christian Duke - Sup 1(14)
Mitchell Cardenas - Sup 2(33)
Brian Fekete - Sup 3(52)
Mike Reidy - Sup 4(71)

Sporting wasn't busy in the 2014 Superdraft. They selected Lopez with their lone pick. A move that had made sense at the time with his GA status, he's so far not been able to really crack KC's team. In the second round, KC had traded their natural selection, the 33rd pick to San Jose in return for Ike Opara. They had also at a time held the 32nd pick from New York after trading Stephane Auvray. But KC sent that to Montreal for Josh Gardner.

The supplemental draft held little for Sporting. Christian Duke made the team and hung around for two years without making a first team appearance before being waived. None of the other three made the roster. Cardenas has played in the lower divisions in Mexico while Fekete and Reidy played in the USL.

Adnan Gabeljic - 2(38)
Peter Schmetz - 3(41)
Alex Martinez - 3(57)
Reinaldo Brenes - 4(76)

The 2014 draft is best known for KC trading their first round pick to the New England Revolution in return for Benny Feilhaber. The rest of the draft didn't leave much for Sporting fans to get excited about. Gabeljic stayed through preseason but didn't earn a contract. He eventually signed with OKC for a short period of time before being waived; he's now with the St. Louis Ambush. KC had acquired a third round pick from Toronto for Bobby Convey, using the pick on Schmetz who like Gabeljic didn't make the team. With their natural pick, KC fans thought early on that they'd found a nice pick up in Martinez. He made 10 appearances for the club in league play early in the season, but was abruptly waived by the club. Since he's played for the Orange County Blues and has signed with the Carolina Railhawks. With their last pick, Sporting took Brenes, another forward who didn't make it through camp.

So what do the prior 2,500 words tell us about Vermes drafting ability in MLS? From looking at the selections, Vermes is quite good with his first round selections. Even his trade of KC's 2014 first round pick turned out quite well with Feilhaber helping lead Kansas City to MLS Cup. The only one you could kind of question is Lopez, but if you look at the rest of the draft taken after him, and the fact that Lopez was a Generation Adidas player and there's really not a player you can really throw in ahead of him without a bit of an argument. He has done a good job of not missing on the talent when it's in front of him in the first round.

One disappointing aspect of the picks from Vermes aspect is his lack, especially lately, of getting anything out of his later round picks. Over the last five drafts, since KC was able to grab Zusi in the second round in 2009, just three of the 22 players selected in the second round or later have made an appearance for KC. Those three have made a combined 19 league appearances and average just 27 minutes per appearance. That's a really poor track record that KC has been unable to find a "diamond in the rough" in the late rounds that could develop into a player for the future.

With that in mind we should probably be glad that KC has as many first round picks as they have in the rest of the draft then.

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