The MLS Draft was a heck of an experience, being near all those future stars of MLS and front office heroes like Bruce Arena, along with chatting with coach Gary Smith and the like. Unfortunately neither of the players who were picked by the Colorado Rapids in the draft were actually at the Baltimore Convention Center so I was unable to speak with them. I did, however, get in a few words with Rapids Vice President and former General Manager Charlie Wright after the draft had finished.
Since I'm the most ghetto media reporter of all time, this interview was captured with my laptop using the built in microphone and Audacity. As such, the audio won't be posted from it partially because a lot of it is garbled and partially because that would just be embarrassing.
I asked Charlie a couple of questions on the Rapids draft strategy, their selections and trade scenarios and got some interesting answers. The full interview with Vice President Wright is after the jump.
Q: You picked two defenders, obviously. Did you go into the draft thinking 'We're going to bolster the defense here for sure'?
A: No, we were simply looking for the best athlete available and after the work the technical staff did at the combine they were of the opinion that the best offensive players that they liked were probably not going to be around at pick 18. Their prediction was that we would probably get a quality outside back and that's what was left.
Q: Did you get the players you were looking for in the draft from the beginning or were there a couple of guys you were looking for who were stolen from you?
A: You know, I think if you talk to people around the league you'll find there's a consensus of between five and ten - depending on who you talk to - highest quality guys and that's fairly consistant from year to year. And so if you're not in that group you just hope that somebody falls out of the thing or someone that you scouted maybe more than other teams during the combine becomes available. And, you know, we thought this Eddie Ababio kid we took at 18 is a very athletic outside back, the kind of guy that'll be great to have playing on the reserve team and being available as a sub during the season. Hopefully this year he'll be pushing guys like Kosuke and Ty to work even harder.
Q: Gary Smith said several times before the draft that he was really looking to push for a trade. Were there any trades on the docket and the other team just waned?
A: Yeah, we discussed trades with a few different teams and we actually had a trade agreement last night that the other team didn't confirm and said they wanted to see who was still available, that kind of thing. They decided not to execute that trade so... we had one in place, but obviously whichever guy this other team had their eye on was still there at their pick.
Q: The Ababio pick surprised a lot of people with Generation Adidas prospect Michael Tetteh still on the board. What put Ababio over Tetteh for you guys?
A: You know, we had a discussion about him and he was actually the other guy we were discussing taking with that pick. He had a very challenging combine and sometimes players come in and play in different leagues, you're not sure of the quality they're bringing to the new one. The coaching staff felt that Ababio showed much better at the combine.
Q: Do you think that either Ababio or Givens has a shot at starting any time soon, even next year?
A: I think both of these guys are picks for the future but... you say that and you never know who might get injured or how well they show in camps, this is early. We're very happy with our starting back four and I don't think that anyone in the draft would be able to come in and crack that starting back four. Even a guy like Kitchen was the best guy in this draft and he would struggle to try and get in. On the other hand, we need some depth after losing the depth because of the moves we made in the offseason. And remember that we're playing ten reserve games this season and you need guys who can play! There's a lot of guys playing very well like Omar and Kosuke who took a few years in the reserve league to get to where they are now.
Q: A lot of us don't know about Colin Givens, give me a word or two on him.
A: He's a good Central defender, he was at the combine. He played very well for Michigan State, has duel citizenship with Great Britain so he's not using up an international slot for us. You know, he won a lot of honors playing for Michigan State like the all conference teams and everything. He also, and some people might know that our coaching staff is really close to the coaching staff who run the Michigan Bucks PDL and he played for the- (At this point someone - I think it was Jeff Plush - cut off the answer to this one by walking by and yelling at Charlie.)
Q: A lot of speculation by Rapids fans, obviously speculation doesn't mean anything but there was some that the Rapids would pick a forward in the draft. Is this double defense draft your way of saying that you think the depth at forward is fine or that you plan to get your depth elsewhere?
A: Well, we're always looking for more depth and if you look at Gary's interviews you'll know he's said he wants another striker. I mean, we have four now and I would argue the guys we have are the best striker duo in the league. I think Quincey and Andre are also quality guys that haven't had that much chance to play. We have been exploring international discoveries, we've been exploring closer opportunities and we looked at the draft. Unfortunately, the couple of guys we really liked at forward were gone by the time it was our turn to pick. We are still looking to add there, but I gotta tell you that I think as it is we are fine at striker.
Some interesting tidbits, I think. It's always good to get the front office brass' thoughts on the draft day. Thanks to Charlie Wright for taking some time out of his day to talk to me!