Do Over: The 2009 Expansion Draft - Part 2

Hunter Martin

With hindsight being 20/20, we take a look at what we would have done in the 2009 Expansion Draft had we known then what we know now.

In Part 1 of this article, I looked over the 10 players that the Union selected in the 2009 Expansion Draft. From that list, I kept 5 picks and dropped the other 5.

So that leaves us with 5 picks from the remaining 10 teams (remember it’s 2009 at this point so the Timbers, Whitecaps, and Impact do not exist yet). Who would I pick?

Well first I have to tell you it was incredibly difficult to figure out who I would pick, as there are very few "locks" from the 2009 Expansion draft list. We have to face facts - MLS teams that come into the league later tend to have more to pick from. As MLS grows in quality there are more and more MLS-ready players that will be available for future teams to pick (New York City FC and Orlando will have quite a few options from more teams, and will have a much larger talent pool from within the league to choose from). So with that said, here are my picks and the reasons why the Union didn’t pick them.

Matt Besler – Defender – Kansas City Wizards (Now Sporting Kansas City)

Why didn’t the Union pick him in 2009? Besler probably wasn’t a "known quality" to the Union front office that was probably more comfortable going after players that their coaching staff had some familiarity with.

Why I would have picked him By the time of the Expansion Draft, Besler had appeared in 28 games for Kansas City starting 26 of them. He was the Eighth Pick of the 2009 SuperDraft, and in case you don’t like watching the United States Men’s National Team, will most likely be (along with Omar Gonzalez) one of the starting center backs for the USMNT in Brazil in 2014. He and Gonzalez were rock solid in the Gold Cup, and Besler was named an All-Star in 2011. He also added 2012 MLS Defender of the Year to his personal achievements. He was exposed in the Expansion Draft, and he would have provided the Union the starting CB that they desperately needed for years to come. For a team that apparently prided itself on its ability to recognize good young players, the Union utterly missed on this guy. However since we’re trying to keep this as a more "realistic" approach, Besler was a member of Notre Dame team that during his four years there made the NCAA Championship four times. Combine that with the fact that he started 73 out of the 90 games during his college career (in case you were wondering it was his freshman year was when he didn’t start every game), and Besler looked to be a solid defender coming out of College.

Also available from Kansas City was Herculez Gomez. The reason that they skipped on him was simple - he wasn’t that good at the time. During his time with Kansas City, Gomez had posted one goal in 34 appearances for the club. Though he’d been a good player with the Los Angeles Galaxy from 2002 – 2006, he would sign with Liga MX club Puebla in January of 2010 and hasn’t returned. Apparently one of the main reasons Gomez doesn’t want to return to the league is because he would go to Sporting Kansas City (who still have his rights) - apparently due to his treatment by the team and Head Coach Peter Vermes.

Kansas City's Kevin Hartman was also available. Hartman holds numerous goal keeping records in Major League Soccer. He would play for FC Dallas until being released, at which point he became the backup goal keeper/goal keeping coach for the New York Red Bulls. Even if either Gomez or Hartman came to the Union and were as good as they have/had been it would still pale compared to having Besler on the roster.

Bobby Convey – Midfielder – San Jose Earthquakes

Why didn’t the Union pick him in 2009? Convey’s stats in the year 2009 were unspectacular. 1 goal and 2 assists, not to mention the fact that he’d gone to Europe, played for Reading, and suffered a knee injury. More than likely he was viewed as "damaged goods" by the Union.

Why I would have picked him - Convey is a solid MLS left midfielder as well as a Philadelphia native, and while his stats in 2009 weren’t good his prior years in MLS were quite good. He would have been a serviceable midfielder to help build around, and being only 26 years old at the time of the Expansion Draft he would have been in his prime. Convey has been so-so in the league with 2010 being a good year (10 assists) for him. He would have more than likely negated the need for Justin Mapp.

Also available from the Earthquakes was Chris Wondolowsk,i and for those of you wondering why I didn’t select him it’s because he was really a nobody at that time. Look at his stats leading through 2009 - he never even broke four goals through the 2009 season. Wondo was literally just "some guy" until 2010 when he suddenly started putting it all together and exploded with 18 goals. I can’t fault the team for passing over Wondo, because in 2009 no one had any idea how good he’d be.

Dan Kennedy – Goal Keeper – Chivas USA

Why didn’t the Union pick him in 2009? - More than likely due to the fact that on the day of the Expansion Draft, the Union also traded for and acquired Chris Seitz. Furthermore, Kennedy wasn’t a starter at Chivas USA in 2009 - he only had nine appearances for the club to that point.

Why I would have picked him – Comparing Kennedy and Seitz up to 2009 it’s not even a contest for me personally. After being drafted with the Fourth Overall Pick in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft. Seitz had one shutout in 7 appearances with Real Salt Lake, allowing 13 goals in those games. He played one game with USL's Cleveland City Stars - a game in which he allowed 3 goals.

Kennedy meanwhile had 9 appearances for Chivas USA, and had 3 shutouts to his name in that time frame, allowing only 8 goals. Furthermore, Kennedy had experience abroad in Chile’s Second Division with Municipal Iquique where he posted the best GAA in the Chilean Second Division. Also, during his time with the Puerto Rico Islanders in 2005, Kennedy was named Rookie of the Year. Seitz has no such achievements to his credit that I can find. It seems that the Union front office was sold on the fact that Seitz was the Fourth Pick of the draft at one time and that he played behind Nick Rimando. Looking at them in terms of stats and accolades, Kennedy was the clear choice here. This is the guy that the Union passed up when they selected Shavar Thomas and it drives me nuts to this day. Kennedy is a great goal keeper on a bad team. Imagine if he were between the pipes for the blue and gold, the Union would have all-star caliber goal keeping for years.

Ned Grabavoy – Midfielder – Real Salt Lake

Why didn’t the Union pick him in 2009? - Ned Grabavoy is pretty much the definition of an "unsexy" pick. Leading up to the Expansion Draft, Grabavoy had been a consistent presence within MLS. Salt Lake was his fourth team since he entered the league in 2004. His stats weren’t anything magical (5 goals, 16 assists) leading up to the Expansion Draft.

Why I would have picked him – Grabavoy is a versatile midfielder, capable of playing pretty much anywhere as he has done with Salt Lake. Grabavoy was also coming off an MLS Cup winning season in 2009 with Salt Lake as well as having won one with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2005. It should also be noted that Grabavoy was the one who stepped up to take the winning penalty kick against the Chicago Fire in the 2009 MLS Playoffs that sent Real Salt Lake to the MLS Cup Final. Pretty much everything about Grabavoy says "consistent", and to me and that is what an expansion franchise needs.

Also on the board from Real Salt Lake was Yura Movsisyan, an Armenian striker. Now I have to come clean here, if there was even the slightest chance the Union would have been able to draft him, they would have been fools not to get him. Movsisyan however was already spoken for. In July of that year he had signed a pre-contract with Danish team Randers, and after that he spent time with Russian side FC Krasnodar. In 2012 he made the move to one of the big boys of Russia - Spartak Moscow - where he has since made 24 appearances and scored 16 goals. Suffice it to say Movsisyan is doing very well for himself. Taking him in the Expansion Draft would have been the vain hope that maybe he would have come back to the league which, given his age and performance, is not happening any time soon.

Gonzalo Segares – Defender – Chicago Fire

Why didn’t the Union Pick him in 2009? - Segares, much like Ned Grabavoy isn’t a player that you think of when you’re thinking of how to build a team from scratch. Also, by the time of the Expansion Draft, Segares had only played for the Chicago Fire for a grand total of 12 games in the 2009 season (whether it was due to injury or form I haven’t been able to get a clear answer for that).

Why I would have picked him – Segares leading up to the Expansion Draft (with the exception of the 2009 season) was a consistent starter, playing 20 or more games from when he entered the league in 2005. Not to mention that Segares is actually an attacking threat, scoring a goal and an assist every year in the league from 2005 to 2009.

So here is the complete list of players that I would have selected.

Matt Besler

Bobby Convey

Dan Kennedy

Ned Grabavoy

Gonzalo Segares

Now this is as solid a list as I could compile. You can argue about one or two but I don’t think that many Union fans would be unhappy with these selections.

Coming up next, we’ll look at the 2010 SuperDraft.

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