MLS Re-Entry Draft XI 2015: Three released Whitecaps feature

By Jamie Dawe

With the first round of the MLS Re-Entry Draft closing in, it would seem an appropriate time to form a side with the best eleven players from the 60 that are eligible for the 2015 Re-Entry process.

Players eligible for the draft must be at least 23 and have a minimum of three years of MLS experience or be at least 25 with a minimum of four years of MLS experience – which makes this group more exclusive and hence why there’s only 60 players available! So, here we go.

GK: Tally Hall – Age 30 – released by Orlando City

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After tearing his ACL in August 2014, Hall lost a starting berth that had been his for four-straight years at the Dynamo. Once he recovered from his ACL injury, Hall found himself in new surroundings in Orlando and quickly became the expansion side’s first choice. However, following another injury blow, the Lions deemed him surplus for their second season in MLS. This two-time MLS All-Star provides an opportunity not to be missed in the draft.

RB: Steven Beitashour – Age 28 – Released by Vancouver Whitecaps

This Californian born Iranian international not only carries tonnes of experience with him, but was arguably one of the most solid right-backs in the league this season. With 27 regular season starts and five assists, he played an important role in the Whitecaps’ second place Western Conference finish. Beitashour will be a solid pick for any side in need of a starting right-back but he won’t come cheap.

LB: Kevin Alston – Age 27 – Released by New England Revolution

Alston has made his name as a solid but speedy wingback since the Revs drafted him in 2009. He’s a solid option at left or right back and is certainly a player who can expect to be drafted early on.

 

CB: Tommy Meyer – Age 25 – Released by LA Galaxy

The second youngest player on this team, Meyer has plenty of time to grow into the starting defender that he’s never been given the chance to become during his four-year spell at the Galaxy. 26 regular season starts relatively evenly spread over the four years show that Meyer has always been on the peripherals of a team that has had some good centre-backs. Meyer is capable of grabbing a spot on the roster of almost any MLS side and will expect to be drafted on Friday.

CB: Pa Modou Kah – Age 35 – Released by Vancouver Whitecaps

Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps Pa-Modou Kah Celebrates

The oldest man on this list, Kah is still a viable option as a starting centre-back for at least one more season. Born in Gambia, but a former Norwegian international, Kah knows how to command a back line and even chipped in with three goals for the Whitecaps during the 2015 regular season.

CDM: Jeb Brovsky – Age 27 – Released by New York City FC

The ultimate utility man. Brovsky could have been positioned anywhere across the back line and anywhere in the centre of midfield but holding midfield seems to suit him best. He never quite seemed to settle into his best form in the extremely porous NYCFC defence but he will hope to find another home within MLS now.

CM: Boniek Garcia – Age 31 – Released by Houston Dynamo

At 31, Garcia’s future will surely be in the middle of the park – or possibly in a more attacking central role, rather than out wide. With 12 goals and 18 assists in 89 MLS games for Houston, Garcia has proven what he is capable of and he has to be seen as a viable option for any side looking to pick up a robust option to cover attacking options in midfield.

CM: Mauro Rosales – Age 34 – Released by Vancouver Whitecaps

Rosales enjoyed a solid 2015 season with Vancouver and will be disappointed not to be staying with the Canadian side. The Argentinian midfield enforcer has proved to be a reliable option since moving to MLS in 2011 and will hope his age doesn’t stop a team from bringing him in for the 2016 campaign.

LW: Marco Pappa – Age 28 – Released by Seattle Sounders

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas  Marco Pappa

Pappa started only half of the regular season games for the Sounders this season, but in that time he managed to contribute three goals and six assists. At 28, he certainly has the ability to contribute to a team for at least another few years as a starting option and carries invaluable playoff experience, having played ten postseason games with the Sounders and Chicago Fire since 2008.

RW: Robbie Findley – Age 30 – Released by Toronto FC

Findley is a capable starter and also a great bench option for most MLS teams. He has 40 MLS goals and 18 assists to his name across eight seasons in the league. Findley can add an injection of pace into any MLS attack and a spark of fear into any opposing backline. He also offers five years of MLS Cup Playoff experience from his time in Real Salt Lake and could prove invaluable to an MLS side looking for attacking reinforcements.

ST: Maximiliano Urruti – Age 24 – Released by Portland Timbers

Urruti is an incredibly gifted forward with an eye for goal and now an MLS Cup Champions medal under his belt. At just 24, Urruti has buckets of talent to offer any MLS side. Urruti has been used predominantly off the bench in Portland, starting only 28 of his 67 regular season appearances, but he’s capable of staking a starting berth in an MLS side – possibly one looking to rebuild with young talent.

These are only 11 of the 60 players available in the draft. Who do you think should be included in this team that’s not listed above and why?

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Robbie Findley excited about return to Real Salt Lake with Toronto FC

Toronto FC travel to Real Salt Lake on Sunday night in a game that will see Robbie Findley return to the club he left last December and the former US international striker is excited for the match.

Findley spent six seasons with Real Salt Lake in total. He joined the club in 2007 and spent three-and-a-half seasons there before making the move to England where he played for Nottingham Forest and Gillingham.

The 29 year old then returned to RSL in 2013 but only scored seven goals in 41 appearances over the past two seasons.

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He has started life with Toronto well though, scoring in his first game in that 3-1 win at the Vancouver Whitecaps on opening weekend, and is now looking ahead to playing at Rio Tinto Stadium with his new teammates.

“I can’t wait,” Findley told Toronto’s official YouTube channel. “They’re definitely a good team with a lot of good guys that I still talk to and it will be fun. They have a good crowd and I’m looking forward to it.

“The fans have always been great since day one so hopefully I’ll get a good ovation.”

Both sides will have to deal with absentees on Sunday night as each side will be without five players who are away on international duty.

Toronto will need to try and win without Designated Players Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, who are both with the US Men’s National Team, while RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando is also with Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad.

Altidore’s absence should see Findley get the chance to impress as the lead striker and he believes whoever comes in needs to work for the team.

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“I think everybody has got to take the responsibility on themselves. We win as a team and we lose as a team so whoever gets that opportunity to step onto the field needs to deliver and know their role,” he added.

The experienced striker went on to add that he has enjoyed his time with Toronto so far and the whole squad are focused on getting something out of Sunday’s game.

“It’s been great. It’s very professional. All the guys have been great and have welcomed me.

“They’ve got a couple players missing as well so we’ve just got to go there and focus on what we need to do to get a result.”

Will Robbie Findley score against his former side when Toronto take on Real Salt Lake this weekend?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC

Venue: Mapfre Stadium – Saturday, March 14 – 19:30 ET (23:30 GMT )

Match Odds: Columbus Crew 13/10 – Draw 9/4 – Toronto FC 15/8

Match Preview

Columbus Crew host Toronto FC at the Mapfre Stadium on Saturday evening for the second game of the 2015 MLS season in a key Eastern Conference clash.

Columbus Crew didn’t get off to the best start after suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat away at Houston Dynamo last weekend, although they may count themselves unlucky as they dominated possession and managed to get 18 shots away but just couldn’t find the net.

Toronto FC couldn’t have asked for a much better result in their opening game as they won 3-1 away at Canadian rivals Vancouver Whitecaps thanks to goals from Jozy Altidore and Robbie Findley.

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Columbus enjoyed six consecutive wins on home soil at the end of the 2014 regular season, so they will be hoping to continue where they left off at the Mapfre Stadium against a Toronto side who recorded their first away win for seven games in MLS last time out.

Head Coach Gregg Berhalter led The Crew to the playoffs for the first time in three years last season and he will certainly be confident that he can replicate that achievement, but with such a competitive Eastern Conference, Columbus will be desperate to get early points on the board.

Greg Vanney‘s Toronto have been the subject of attention throughout the preseason due to the resources they’ve invested in the squad as they’ve brought in key players in the shape of Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco and Benoit Cheyrou.

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Although it’s very early days, they look to have hit the ground running and their quality was immediately evident in the first game last weekend. The club will be hoping that they continue to justify the expenditure their arrivals demanded.

As well as a significantly improved squad, recent history is also on Toronto’s side when it comes to fixtures against Columbus. The Reds won all three of the games between these two sides last season, with the most recent meeting providing an entertaining 3-2 win for Toronto back in August 2014.

Having said that, in the games before the 2014 season, Toronto had managed just two wins from 19 attempts against Columbus with The Crew coming out on top on ten occasions and drawing seven.

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It’s tightly poised and with two teams that like to get the ball down and play in an entertaining way, we could be in for a real treat.

Team News

Columbus Crew midfielder Romain Gall may not be fit for action after he missed the last game with a knee injury while Tony Tchani will miss the game after being issued with a one-match suspension for endangering the safety of an opponent in last week’s 1-0 loss to Houston. Toronto FC have no injuries or suspensions to take into consideration and are likely to field an unchanged side.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s form: L

Toronto FC’s form: W

Key Stat: The last five meetings between Columbus and Toronto have produced 17 goals, so we can hope for more of the same.

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Key Player: Jozy Altidore – The USMNT striker marked his return to Major League Soccer with two goals and looks full of confidence once again. With Giovinco, Bradley and Cheyrou orchestrating the midfield behind him, chances will inevitably come his way.

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-2 Toronto FC – Columbus were unlucky to lose last week against Houston. Toronto certainly weren’t lucky to win at Vancouver and they looked very strong. The Reds should have too much firepower for Columbus to handle.

Just three players selected in MLS Re-Entry Draft

Only three players were selected in the first stage of the MLS Re-Entry Draft yesterday as Eric Kronberg, Andy Gruenebaum and Robbie Findley all moved clubs.

Kronberg and Gruenebaum, both goalkeepers, left Sporting Kansas City and will hope to find a regular starting job at their new clubs.

Kronberg, 31, started 20 games for Kansas City last season and he moved to the Montreal Impact with the first overall pick in the Re-Entry Draft.

San Jose Earthquakes opted to select Gruenebaum with the second pick. The 31-year-old started 11 games for SKC last year and will replace the outgoing John Busch as the Earthquakes ‘keeper next season.

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The only outfield player picked up in yesterday’s draft was Robbie Findley as Toronto bolstered their frontline with the sixth pick. The 29-year-old scored just once in 16 appearances for Real Salt Lake last term and will hope to succeed with the Reds in 2015.

The move could suggest that Toronto are preparing for life without Jermain Defoe, by bringing in another striker on a relatively high wage. But Findley could also just be a new strike partner for the Englishman.

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The second stage of the Re-Entry Draft will take place on December 19 as all 20 MLS clubs will have the chance to select one of almost 60 players.

According to the league rules, any players not picked up after Stage 2 become available to any MLS club on a first-come, first-served basis.

What do you make of the first stage selections in the Re-Entry Draft?