The official dissolution of Chivas USA and the Dispersal Draft that will follow at some point this off-season serve as sharp reminders of the nature of Major League Soccer. As many a disgruntled soccer purist will point out, MLS is still a single-entity league, where the league office, rather than the teams themselves, has the final say in almost everything that happens off the pitch.
Rather than having all of Chivas’ players simply become free agents, as would be expected in most major soccer leagues or other American professional sports, those on the roster will re-enter the league through what’s called a dispersal draft. The details haven’t been finalized, but it will work just like any other draft for the most part. The teams will be ordered, likely from worst to first, and select the players that they would like off of Chivas USA’s roster.
We do know two things for sure: according to MLS Executive Vice President Todd Durbin, there will in fact be a dispersal draft this off-season, and Orlando City and NYCFC will take part. What we’re unsure of is where in the order the two expansion clubs will fall, along with any additional rules and minutia. ESPN is reporting that the draft may take place on Dec. 1, but that is unconfirmed.
In the only previous dispersal draft (in 2002, when the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion folded), we also saw two top-10 Superdraft picks traded. If Orlando is given a top pick, but it’s not sold on any of Chivas’ players, they could attempt to add another pick in the Superdraft. Also, there could be the option of trading for allocation money or even an international roster spot.
Personally, I would expect to see Orlando and New York City FC receive the first and second picks in the draft, simply because MLS has a vested interest in their success this year. However, that’s simply conjecture. Here is what Chivas’ roster looks like:
There’s a reason why this was consistently one of the worst teams in the league. It’s been widely reported that Mexican superstar Erick “Cubo” Torres will not be available in the dispersal draft, and will instead be party to whatever made-up allocation order/birthright/coin-flip deal MLS sees fit.
— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) October 27, 2014
So, with with Torres unavailable, who should Orlando City target? It’s been my stance that City’s greatest position of need is center back, and veteran defender Bobby Burling might be an appealing choice. I think Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Marco Delgado are promising young players, but with such a young roster already, I can’t imagine Coach Heath will aim to take on more developmental projects.
If not Burling, Heath could look to shore up the midfield and add Eric Avila, or potentially even English veteran Nigel Reo-Coker. Avila, at only 26, certainly has the potential to be a very useful player for City in the long term. However, a veteran holding midfielder like Reo-Coker could play a major role in keeping a young team organized on the pitch and could influence the development of Harrison Heath.
Aside from the likely unavailable Torres, who off of Chivas’ roster would you most like to see Orlando take?