LOS ANGELES - Major League Soccer's geographic reach across North America is so widespread now that there's only one day each year when the entire league community is in one room.
That day is the one when the SuperDraft takes place. So it was no surprise that there were a lot of things for a lot of people to talk about as the picks were made Friday afternoon. Here are some highlights, from the Union to MLS commissioner Don Garber to other major figures.
Union coach Jim Curtin on whether draft pick Marcus Epps is better on the right or left side of midfield:
He's comfortable on both. As of right now I would lean more toward the right, but he's a guy who has played both through college.
Curtin on the right back depth chart:
Keegan [Rosenberry] has done really well, is in the national team picture now, and you're always a really good game with the national team away from turning some heads. So it's a situation where we want to continue to have depth on our roster, good-quality players, and Ray [Gaddis] is a guy who's a starter in MLS.
Curtin on what fans' expectations should be of the team's picks this year, since second-round picks often don't end up making MLS rosters:
If you look at where we picked in the second round, I still think we came away with two players that are going to push and be on a MLS roster for a while. So in that regard, we're very happy… There's pathways for each individual player. We'd like to think we got two guys that are going to contribute to the first team. Hopefully it is in their first year, but certainly down the road.
Curtin on not drafting Temple's Jorge Gomez Sanchez after reports (including by me) that the team was interested in getting him:
Sanchez is still a guy we're high on… [He] is still a guy that fits what we're about, and maybe with one of our later picks, we'll see where he falls… A guy like him, a guy like a Connor Maloney [who spent two years in the Union academy, then went to Penn State], a local guy that we know a lot about is still somebody that we'll eye now in the later rounds.
Sanchez is going to be a guy who we know would score goals in the USL. For sure. That's a fact… Now it'll be taking that next step for him to get with a MLS first team, which he's more than capable of doing.
Union sporting director Earnie Stewart on whether fans should temper their expectations of Epps and Jones:
I don't know about tempering. We're a club where you actually get minutes if you do well. If we develop the way we think that can happen, you can make minutes.
Fans want to expect good things from draft picks, which is understandable. If everything goes well, I think they will get minutes, valuable minutes.
That's a great part for the Philadelphia Union, that we have Bethlehem Steel in place, where kids can get valuable minutes to make sure once that moment comes along, they can make minutes in our first team, that they're ready for that. That's a great thing we have with the Philadelphia Union and we've got to profit from it.
MLS commissioner Don Garber on the sudden (and very welcome) announcement Friday that from now on, amounts of allocation money in transaction will be made public:
It's amazing - you know, Alexi [Lalas of Fox Sports] said to me, "It's a seminal moment in the history of the league, that you're releasing allocation dollars." I said I found out about that when Todd [Durbin, MLS' executive vice president of competition and player relations] handed me the slip and said, "I just want you to know, you're going to be announcing allocation money."
It's not something we spent as much time thinking about as others do, but we've made a pledge to be more transparent. This is a step in the right direction… I'm happy we were able to do it.
Garber on the latest setback to efforts to build a soccer stadium in or close to Boston for the New England Revolution:
I think it was a bit of a step sideways, the most recent report we saw the other day. I've spoken to the Krafts [the Revs' owners], and they remain incredibly committed to getting a stadium built. They are founders of the league along with Phil [Anschutz] and Lamar [Hunt]. They need to get a stadium project up and going. Their fans deserve it.
Atlanta United head coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino on the unique spectacle of a soccer draft:
Well… it's different. First, it's a big show. With regards to our picks, we're very happy with our two selections we made today.
Martino on the challenge presented by American college products becoming professionals at age 22, a point by which players in other countries are well into their pro careers:
They come later into the pros, so it's on the coaches here in America to accelerate their learning process so they can start to fit into teams quicker.
Atlanta technical director Carlos Bocanegra, a UCLA product and former U.S. national team star, on the same subject:
It's a fair question, but we're still different here in America. An education is valued very highly, and I think it should be. Some of these kids, they go into college but they're also able to grow up and be ready to step up into a pro environment, a locker room, traveling on their own, time management, money management.
There's a lot of things it takes to be a professional, and while the [college] season is three months and they don't get as much training as they can - we definitely believe they should get more to help their bodies adapt - there still is that other aspect, that they're a little bit more men, and they're ready to step into the pro environment.
Martino on the talent of Designated Player midfielder Miguel Almirón, and what it means that the team was willing to pay a MLS record $8.5 million transfer fee to sign him:
I think he's a very valuable player. It was difficult to bring him to the league, but we were able to in Atlanta, and we're excited about that.
New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch on reports claiming he was to become the head coach of Red Bull Salzburg:
Since the new year, I haven't been in Salzburg. I've been in Portugal with Leipzig [Red Bull's team in Germany's Bundesliga]. There's been no contact with Salzburg. I was there before Christmas, just to spend time with both clubs and see what's going on there, but I'm the New York Red Bulls' coach.
This whole thing that came out, I can't figure out how to place it, but nothing has ever changed other than facilitating our relationship with other clubs over there. I'm the New York Red Bulls' coach, period.
Marsch on whether those meetings with included discussion of players moving between Red Bull's various teams:
Nothing specific. There's always looking at resources to see how everyone can benefit each other, but other than that, no.
Marsch on whether he wants to manage in Europe some day:
I'll take it as a compliment that people even think that's a potential avenue for me. I've already said publicly that yeah, I'm an ambitious guy, an ambitious coach. Certainly, the opportunity to challenge myself in leagues that are at the highest level is, I think, something that interests me very much. But right now, all my focus has been on the New York Red Bulls.
Marsch on whether being part of the Red Bull organization opens doors for him to manage in Europe, especially in light of Bob Bradley's troubled tenure at Swansea City:
In theory, yeah, you're correct. And the fact that I have relationships with people over there obviously has potential for further opportunities down the road. But right now, the discussions have been about me being the New York Red Bulls head coach, period.
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