Ten Best: Low draft picks
Bradley and Bradley
January 4, 2019
The SuperDraft is pointless, we keep hearing. With the rise of academies, it certainly has lost a lot of its luster over the years. Metro enters this year's edition with no pick higher than 22nd, likely using their selections to fill the roster for their USL team. And yet... over the years, some gems were had. These are the 10 best players for Metro who were drafted with picks 22 and above... draft position matters!
10) Danny Cepero: 2007, #98 (#46 Supplemental), NY
Back when MLS still had the Supplemental Draft, 97 players went off the board before Cepero. His professional stint was short but incredibly memorable: a goalkeeper goal on his debut, and two shutouts in the playoffs as Metro reached their only MLS Cup. It fizzled after that, but what a ride it was!
9) Brandon Barklage: 2009, #39, DC
An important player in Metro's run to the so-important 2013 shield, Barklage was drafted as a midfielder by DC, but was converted to a defender when he came to NY. Both his Metro goals came in one game against the club that dumped him, including one on a memorable ninja kick.
8) Ryan Meara: 2012, #31, NY
After becoming the first rookie goalkeeper to start for Metro on opening day, Meara has not had many chances to play, but has made most of his opportunities. Sadly, the run to the 2017 Open Cup came up a tad short, but Metro wouldn't have made it that far without Meara's heroics in the penalty shootout in Philadelphia.
7) Chris Leitch: 2002, #47, CLB
He wasn't exactly great, but over 200 MLS games for a lowly 47th pick? His two stints with Metro included a dubious 2005 Defender of the Year award and the starting right back slot during that 2008 run to MLS Cup.
6) Mike Grella: 2009, #34, TOR
Grella made it known before the draft that he wanted to go to Europe, but Toronto picked him anyway. It took him a while to come back to the US, and when he did, he scored the 1000th goal in Metro's history and became an integral part of the 2015 Shield-winning team.
5) Michael Bradley: 2004, #36, MET
When he was taken, no one knew the scrawny 17-year-old, drafted so low by his father Bob, would become a stalwart on the US national team, as well as a number of solid clubs in some of Europe's best leagues. Played in two World Cups, and even scored a goal in 2010. Then he had to come back to MLS to Toronto. Ugh.
4) Eric Alexander: 2010, #44, DAL
Never a star, but a terrific complimentary player, and a vital cog in the 2013 Shield-winning team. He's bounced a lot around the league, but has played in over 200 games, and tends to improve whatever team that acquires him.
3) Aaron Long: 2014, #36, POR
Drafted as a midfielder by Portland. Cut. Signed by Seattle. Cut. Signed by Metro, turned into a defender. Won USL Defender of the Year in 2016. Won MLS Defender of the Year in 2018. Made the US national team. Sometimes it's nice when it's other teams that make mistakes.
2) Luis Robles: 2007, #50, DC
Are people aware that Robles was actually drafted by DC all the way back in 2007? He elected to ditch the Scum, went to Germany, and came back to MLS with Metro five years later. One MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award, three Supporters Shields, and all Metro goalkeeping and games played records later, we're glad how this one worked out.
1) Jeff Parke: 2004, #60, MET
There were 60 picks in the 2004 draft. Parke, who is member of our All-Time Metro Best XI, went last. Just for that, he will forever be first whenever we talk about great late draft picks.