Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In The Head of A SuperDraft Prospect: By Julian Valentin

It’s that time again. January. It’s the time when MLS clubs line up their draft boards, wheel and deal in trade negotiations, scout and make offers for foreign players, and make final preparations for the upcoming season. Preseason starts in a week and all returning players are enjoying their last bit of offseason while prepping for the upcoming preseason campaign. January is an exciting time for fans of the league, a serious time for all returning players as they get ready to defend their roster spot, a frantic time for coaches and GMs, and a horrible, stressful time for all college seniors or Generation adidas players.

Last year at this time was one of the most stressful times of my life, and it is for pretty much anybody hoping to be picked in the MLS SuperDraft. Even a supposed “Lock for the #1 Pick” has to be worried because, well, there is no such thing as a “Lock for the #1 Pick.” Everyone flies down to Ft. Lauderdale for the MLS Combine to showcase their talents to an orchestra of MLS coaches and GMs, as they try to make one last good impression and end up on a team. At the Combine, everyone worries about not making mistakes, rather than playing well and it sometimes shows in the performances and quality of the games. Regardless, the Combine is a good tool for coaches to make their final evaluations of players under duress.

Then, the Combine is over. There’s a day of travel in between. And players head to the MLS SuperDraft.

Not a single player has a concrete idea where his future lies – only speculation from agents and media. Will I get taken when the media experts project? Am I on any draft boards at all? What city will I move to? What will my financial situation be? Will I be close to my family and girlfriend? Will I get taken at all or will the dream die? These are just some of the questions that are running through the head of every college senior right now. These are the questions that ran through my head last year.

I know all too well what is going through the heads of the many players who will be in St. Louis this week. They hope their name will be called. And each pick adds more anxiety to those who have yet to be selected. By the time you’re sitting in the convention center, however, everything is decided. There’s nothing more that a player can do but sit and wait, hoping to hear his name called. Did I do enough? Every player hopes that someone took notice of his talents and things they might become a good player in MLS some day. Draft day sucks.

Until your name is called…

Once you’re actually drafted, that’s just the start of the really hard work. At the end of the day being drafted is only an opportunity. It’s a preseason tryout with the club who selects you. Many players don’t make the team and find something else to do. Will a player prove all the critics wrong and become a sleeper pick? When you get drafted doesn’t matter one bit, but more important is what you do with the opportunity.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the insight Jules.

Hoping you get many minutes for LA this year.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the sharing of experiences from last year. Hopefully, you still will have a vital role with our team - I hope. Wish nothing but the best for you and your friends. Good to read your writing again.
If you happen to see Sean, please let him know that I hope he's recovering okay from the groin injury suffered during USMNT training camp. Can't wait to see our LA Galaxy team play again in 2009.