The Major League Soccer Superdraft takes place in Indianapolis on Thursday and both Texan clubs enter with picks, FC Dallas with picks number seven and 20 while Houston comes in with number 13 and 37.
FC Dallas have some pretty solid choices at seven and 20, which will put them first in the second round and in a good position to capitalize on those diamonds in the rough missed in the first round.
There are probably three significant problems that FC Dallas has but with just two picks they will need to prioritize, they need more quality in the midfield, they need a back-up for Brek Shea (who will miss the start of the season), they need back-up for the ageing Jair Benitez and they could use a new Kevin Hartman.
With three goakeepers already in the squad it seems unlikely that they’d seek to strengthen that part of their squad so midfielders should be the focus, while also looking to potentially pick up some cover for Benitez.
There are two midfielders that are getting plenty of attention at the combine in Dillon Powers and John Sertzer, at least one of these two should be available down at seven, if not both of them, Dallas will likely go with Sertzer who has an ACC connection although Powers is likely the better player.
The need FC Dallas covers with their second pick largely depends on who is still available at position 20, if they look for a desperately needed winger they could be out of luck with JJ Johnson certain to go early.
One option that could still be available at number 20 is Blake Smith from New Mexico who came in to the Combine but had a poor performance, even despite that there’s a good chance Smith will be gone by 20 but if he’s not expect Dallas to jump.
With the likely unavailability of midfielders come the start of the second round it could prove a good opportunity for Dallas to pick up a quality defender with Jimmy Nealis likely to still be available despite being one of the best defenders in the draft. If Dallas pass on Nealis look for New England to take him with the 21st pick.
Houston are in a very different situation with two very low picks in each round of the draft their options will be severely limited.
Houston have their entire starting XI from the 2012 MLS Cup Final still under contract and have already plugged their post-season losses with Eric Brunner and Omar Cummings so for the Dynamo their focus is getting depth without taking a significant hit in the salary cap which would also involve not giving up a foreigner spot.
The left side is probably the weakest area of the Houston Dynamo squad, with Brad Davis and Corey Ashe the only two true left-footed players so look for Houston to pick up two left-footed players with their two picks.
The two players Dallas are likely to be interested in at number 20 (Smith and Nealis) could well be an option for Houston in their 13th pick, it would be really unlikely that both of them would be available come 37, and likely both will be gone, they both offer a back-up option on the lift but is Smith too much of a gamble at 13 given his poor Combine performance?
Greg Cochrane looms as a potential choice in 37 as he seems unlikely to go until late in the draft and offers great value at left back for such a late pick.
One issue that will play on Houston’s mind is the lack of center backs in the 2013 MLS Superdraft class with just two, Eric Shoenle and Dylan Tucker-Gangnes possibly available to the Dynamo at position 13, they could use more depth in that position so don’t be surprised to see Houston take one of those two at 13 with Tucker-Gangnes the more likely as he looks a nicer fit for Dominic Kinnear’s system.
The other big concern for fans in San Antonio is the fate of the Austin Aztex players in the draft, Kekunta Manneh, Dillon Powers and Blake Smith.
Blake Smith seems very likely to go, more likely in the second round than the first and don’t be surprised if remains in Texas with Dallas and Houston both likely to be interested.
Powers versatility should help him find a club early on, certainly in the first round, Sporting Kansas City could use the depth in midfield while LA Galaxy will certainly be looking for midfielders with the number 23 jersey being quite some shoes to fill.
Don’t be surprised if Powers is picked up early, if only for fear of him going to someone else, Vancouver could use some depth which could throw a spanner in the works for SKC and LA.
Manneh is bound to go and could well be a top five, he comes in with generation Adidas status which makes him incredibly attractive, on top of his impressive performance at the Combine.
Vancouver could well pick up the striker with the fifth pick of the draft but the hard part for Manneh will be that very few of the early teams have a striker as priority so don’t be surprised if Manneh has to wait with pick numbers 9-12 and 14 certainly looking for a striker.
Manneh will end up at Vancouver, Columbus, Chicago, Real Salt Lake or Sporting Kansas City, but which one depends on how the draft prior to that goes.
The biggest flop of the MLS Draft has already happened, Chivas USA announced on Monday that they’ll be taking Carlos Alvarez with the second pick of the draft, a player who is unlikely to have gone that early, thus killing their chances of trading down for a good price.
The elephant in the room at the 2013 MLS Draft will be the Portland Timbers who come in to Thursday’s draft without a single pick, don’t be surprised to see the draft order change all day on Thursday.