Friday, January 9, 2009

Garth Lagerway on Combine, Draft, & More

I was able to catch up with Garth Lagerway today (via conference call) who is in Ft. Lauderdale for the MLS Combine. Here is some of what I was able to gather (paraphrased except where indicated by direct quotes):

On MLS Combine
There are 3 or 4 talented players at the top of the draft. "At the end of this weekend it will be blatantly obvious who those are." It's important because the staff will be together for the first time in 2 months. We've watched most of these players for a year and a half.

"There are a couple of games on Saturday and Sunday. We have league meetings. We have meetings with agents. We have meetings with scouting services. In between we'll have staff meetings."

On RSL's 2009 Draft Picks
RSL has one First Round Pick (#12) and two Fourth Round Picks. Second round pick to Dallas was compensation for Cassar. Third round pick went to Kansas City for Movsisyan. RSL acquired Chivas' fourth round pick with Atiba Harris deal. One of the fourth round picks was scheduled to go to Chicago for compensation for Will Johnson, but since Will played so much he reached a trigger that instead gave Chicago a minor allocation.

On this Draft Class
"I think it's better than last year. But last year was a historically poor draft." That should be a trend as the MLS improves in the future.

We like some of the Generation Adidas players, and don't like others. Last year RSL was consulted with the selection of these since we had the 3rd pick, but not this year.

On the Role of the Draft
"I don't think you fill needs in the draft. In general, outside of the top couple of picks you aren't going to get someone who is going to step in and play." A college player with a year in the system could contribute. So you look to build depth primarily based on talent, rather than need.

On the Approach to This Draft
"To bring in a college striker doesn't make much sense in the context of having three or four kids under the age of 24. If it's the best talent, sure."

"We'll get in a room and have 5 opinions. It was a drawn out process last year. It took probably 3 days to reach a consensus and we had some battles right down to the wire."

"We'll pick the most talented guy available at number 12."

On Trading Up
"It's definitely something we'll look at. It depends on the player, the pick and the price. Last year the number 1 pick was traded for Nick Garcia. A comparable trade for us would be Jamison Olave or Nat Borchers, and I can tell you that's not going to happen." "For the first time we have a core to build off of and we aren't going to friviously trade away an established player for potential unless we think it's somebody really, really special."

On the Offseason Approach
"We want another left-sided player to give us more width in the midfield. We are also looking at bringing in a striker. We are looking at a couple of players right now. We are actively seeking an attacking player and another left-sided player." Our philosophy is to add players like that through trade or foreign players.

Will Johnson is a right-sided player, who did really well on the left. He's a potential All-Star.

"I don't think we're going to have much of a constraint with roster spots, the salary cap is going to be the greater constraint."

"We are inundated with prospects. We have probably 30 guys we are looking at. I would say we have 2 or 3 guys that we have serious interest in, but the minute you talk about them the price goes up."

On Players Not Returning From 2008
Fabian Espindola's contract was not bought out. We couldn't afford the cap space, after buying our Morales and Olave's contracts. We have not ruled out bringing Fabian back, but we'll look at that in the context of other options that we have. This would likely be an extension of the old loan if we did this.

We had two GA players graduate: Nik Besagno and Yura Movsisyan. Nik Besagno we did not retain, Yura we did.

We cut Kenny Cutler and Dustin Kirby.

There is a new league rule that allows us to buy out a players contract. This is a potential option with Kenny Deuchar, but we have not made any plans either way yet.

On Preseason Plans
"We'll be in Oxnard, California from Feb 4-14th. We'll be in Tampa, Florida from Feb 18th-28th. Plans in March still undecided. Most likely somewhere domestic, and warm." Finances do play some role in this, but we don't have the need of team building like we did last year with our Argentina trip.