Here's mySuperDraft preview story from this morning's paper. And while the headlines asks if the Sounders are going for a keeper, my own answer would be no. I just didn't get the vibe that they're going for a keeper ... at least not in the first round.
There had been a theory floating that this is an ideal year to bring in a talented keeper who can learn under Kasey Keller for a season and then take over in 2012. But I ran that past Sigi Schmid, and his answer certainly could be interpreted as saying that a single year of watching from the bench does not turn a college player into a professional goalkeeper.
In any case, the guessing is about to end and the reality about to start pouring in, as the draft begins at 9 a.m. And while it will be carried live on ESPN2, I'm afraid that's about the time that I'll be boarding a plane. So, I have asked my editors to try to keep the blog updated until I can get back to it. And once I'm back on the ground, I should be able to bring you not only the information, but also reaction from two Sounders press conferences that have been called for today: one from their top pick, and then a post-draft overview from Schmid and technical director Chris Henderson.
Meanwhile, here is what they had to say on the eve of the draft:
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SCHMID overview: “When I compare it back to say the draft of 2009, I don’t think it’s necessarily as top-heavy as that draft was. I think there were a number of guys picked in the first round of that draft that were able to step in and do really well, like Steve Zakuani did for us. But it went probably 10 or 11 deep top-heavy-wise. I don’t know if this one is as deep from a standpoint of it’s filled with outstanding guys. But I also think it’s possibly a little deeper in terms of that next group of players. That next group of players is broader than it was in maybe some of the other drafts. And the international players, like all players, have had some ups and downs. It’s a little easier for us with the college players because we have seen them play in college as well as here and so sometimes you throw out one or the other. So with the internationals we are only really seeing them here. But there are a couple that have stood out, done very well and looked like they could have a role in the future of MLS.”
HENDERSON on trying to draft Keller's eventual replacement: “We have known with Kasey’s age that we have had to have some goalkeepers on the radar. I think we have been actively looking. We’ve got one of the best goalkeepers in the league still in Keller and Terry Boss is a very good back-up. But every team is going to have to carry three goalies and goalkeeper is a position that we are looking at. I think there are some decent goalies in this draft so it’s something that’s part of the discussion for our group. We also have to look and see what’s going to be best long-term for the club, what’s going to be best to help the club win when Kasey does retire.”
SCHMID in developing young keepers that way: “Goalkeeper is a unique position. They get better with more experience and with more age. When I was coaching at UCLA, every goalkeeper that I had […] redshirted at least a year. […] That was on a very small scale but it was the same thing. I figured when they came in and they could observe for a year and learn for a year that was going to be a benefit to them. The other thing is goalkeepers sometimes develop later than other field players. Goalkeepers, again, are unique in that you don’t just look at who got selected for the Under-17 and that must be the best goalkeeper in the land because there’s a lot of goalkeepers that develop later and pass that person by so we have to be cognizant of looking at that. But a player is going to play when he is ready. The goalkeepers are unique in that as they get older they are sort of like good wine, they age well.”