Los Angeles Soccer: Victor Estupian

MLS DRAFT: Chivas USA awaits a prize

January, 12, 2011
Chivas USA knows it's getting something special in Thursday's Major League Soccer draft (ESPN2, 9 a.m.), but what?

The guess here is that the Goats opt for one among the three best backliners available with the No. 4 selection: University of North Carolina center back Jalil Anibaba, Akron right back Kofi Sarkodie or Akron defender Zarek Valentin, a center back whose future probably is as an outside back.

Anibaba, skilled and smooth, is a center back with some of the qualities possessed by Robin Fraser, Chivas' new head coach. Sarkodie is ready to step in at right back -- he's a brazen attacker, but there are questions about his defensive game. Valentin, the brother of former Galaxy defender Julian Valentin, is most versatile.

Chivas has plenty of needs, and Fraser could decide to go for a forward -- there are at least a half-dozen who are highly regarded -- or a creative midfielder, but the best value will be at the back.

Chivas' draft:

SELECTIONS: 2 (1st round, No. 4; 3rd round, No. 40)

PRIMARY NEEDS: Just about everything, except perhaps central midfielders -- and maybe wingers, if Rodolfo Espinoza is re-signed. Watch for a top-line central defender, who can learn from Jimmy Conrad, or an attack-minded outside back to arrive with the first pick, although there are a couple of forwards who might prove too enticing.

POTENTIAL TARGETS: Anibaba, Sarkodie or Valentin are the best bets, but Texas-born forward Omar Salgado, just 17, would be a most fitting addition. He comes from the Chivas family -- he was in Guadalajara's youth ranks but was forced to leave when he committed his international future to the U.S. He's 6-foot-4 with tremendous upside. ... Two other forwards who might be considered are Ecuadorans Joao Plata, just 5-3 but with magic in his feet, and Victor Estupian. ... Tulsa wing-forward Ashley McInnes' stock dropped during the combine, but he might be a steal if he's still around at No. 40.

MLS DRAFT: Galaxy has choices at 16

January, 12, 2011
The Galaxy would need to make a deal, maybe a big one, to move into prime territory and snag one of the two big prizes in Thursday's Major League Soccer SuperDraft (ESPN2, 9 a.m.), and we're certainly not expecting that.

Darlington Nagbe, a creative forward who has the kind of star quality his former University of Akron teammates Steve Zakuani and Teal Bunbury brought to the league in the past two drafts, would be a wonderful addition for a club looking for attacking talent. So would central midfielder Perry Kitchen, Nagbe's Akron teammate, the other can't-miss player up for grabs.

The Galaxy doesn't pick until No. 16, when they'll have a choice of several prospects with potential, a few who might be ready to contribute quickly, one of two who might fill real needs.

The Galaxy's draft:

SELECTIONS: 3 (1st round, No. 16; 2nd, No. 34; 3rd, No. 50)

PRIMARY NEEDS: A two-way midfielder and a forward with real potential, but also depth in midfield -- especially on the wings -- and along the backline.

POTENTIAL TARGETS: Big (6-foot-4), versatile North Carolina midfielder Stephen McCarthy or two-way Duke midfielder Cole Grossman would be perfect, but they'll likely be gone by the 16th pick. ... If Cal center back A.J. Soares is still around, nab him. ... Stanford's Bobby Warshaw can play in midfield or in the back. ... Akron attacking midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong could develop into something special with the right mentoring -- and could still be available. ... Ecuadoran forward Victor Estupinan was a combine standout. ... Akron center back Chris Korb would be a good second-round pick, if he lasts to 34. ... Sacramento State midfielder Ernesto Carranza, Loyola Marymount winger Rafael Baca or UC Irvine forward Amani Walker could be there in the third round.