Remembering the 2006 SuperDraft
November 18, 2016
Mehdi Ballouchy retired today. The one-time Metro midfielder spent the last two years across the river with the blue poseurs, his playing time diminished to a minimum. But we're not here to eulogize the Moroccan; we're here to remember the amazing 2006 SuperDraft, specifically its first six picks.
Let's set the stage: late in the 2005 season, Metro GM and part-time circus clown Alexi Lalas decided to fire Bob Bradley after the team's first home loss in five months. Assistant Mo Johnston was promoted, and kept the job after squeezing Metro into the playoffs (the less said about Mo's "coaching" in that New England series, the better).
Bradley was happily snatched by hapless Chivas USA, coming off a terrible expansion season, one of the worst in league history. The Goats had the first pick of the draft, followed by Salt Lake, Columbus, Kansas City, Metro, and Dallas.
The top-rated player on most boards was a right back sophomore from UCLA, Marvell Wynne. On most boards, but not Bradley's. So, to everyone's shock, he traded that first overall pick to Metro to drop down to #5, and acquire a player, Jason Hernandez. Hernandez, a second-year defender, was drafted by Bradley a year ago, but didn't see any playing time until Johnston took over. The trade was applauded wildly by Metro fans.
So Johnston took Wynne, to be followed by Salt Lake taking Ballouchy. Two strikers followed: Jason Garey to Columbus and Yura Movsisyan, the first junior college player drafted so high, to Kansas City. Bradley took Sacha Kljestan (aha!) fifth, and Dallas followed with Dax McCarty (aha!!!!).
The rest of the draft had numerous notables, as Columbus took Kei Kamara eighth, Jozy Altidore dropped to Metro at 17th, and Bradley plucked Jonathan Bornstein at 37th. But let's just deal with four of those top six, obviously foregoing Garey and Movsisyan.
Wynne had a pretty good rookie year for Metro, first under Johnston and then Bruce Arena. Unfortunately for him, Arena acquired Hunter Freeman in 2007, and dealt Wynne to Johnston's new team, Toronto, for a second round pick. As much as we think that Marc de Grandpre firing Bruce Arena is the biggest mistake in franchise history, that trade was an all-time head scratcher. Wynne has been a MLS lifer since, switching to Colorado (more on that later) and San Jose, and earning caps for the US national team. While not the best player to come out of the draft, he turned into a solid pro.
Ballouchy spent a middling year and a half in Salt Lake, before another head scratcher: he was dealt straight up to Colorado for Kyle Beckerman, clearly a superior player. Beckerman helped turn RSL from a laughing stock to MLS Cup champions in 2009. Ballouchy lasted in Colorado until 2010, when a late-season trade sent him to Metro, straight up for Macoumba Kandji. Kandji, a overrated useless spare part here, immediately helped Wynne and Colorado win MLS Cup. Oh well.
Ballouchy scored on his Metro debut, but that was the peak of his time with Metro. His point-blank miss versus San Jose in the playoffs is still painful, as was most of his tenure attempting to run the Metro midfield. In July 2012, he was sent to San Jose for an international slot and a low draft pick. From them, it was on to Vancouver and NYCFC.
Bradley used Kljestan, Bornstein, and Hernandez as the backbone of his Chivas team, leading them to a swift turnaround. Kljestan, partnering a veteran named Jesse Marsch (aha!!!!!!) in midfield, was a revelation. In 2007, Bradley took over the US national team, and called up Kljestan. In 2010, Sacha made a switch to Belgian giants Anderlecht, before coming back to MLS and Marsch's Metro in 2015. Last year, he became just the second player in league history to get 20 assists in league play.
It took McCarty some time to get a starting spot in Dallas, but he became a regular in his second year. In 2009, Bradley gave him his first cap for USA. A year later, McCarty helped Dallas to the title game, losing to the aforementioned Colorado. Exposed in the expansion draft, he was taken with the first pick by Portland, and immediately traded to DC. Midway through that 2011, an astonishing trade sent him to Metro for Dwayne De Rosario. He has now played more games than anyone in team history. That one worked out a bit in our favor, no?
So, if the draft gets done over, who gets picked first? You can make the case for Kljestan or McCarty, or obviously Altidore. One thing is for sure: no one is taking Ballouchy second. Sorry, Mehdi...