History of Metro Project-40/Generation Adidas
April 2, 2020
If you have nothing better to do (and who of us do at this moment), head over to MLSsoccer.com and read the story of Project-40, the barnstorming MLS team of yesteryear. The rundown below is not about that team per se -- it's the complete list of Metro players who came through the Project-40/Generation Adidas program. (We will only count players for whom Metro was their first stop in MLS.) Read on, if you have nothing better to do...
It all started with Carlos Parra, who is oft-mentioned in these historical articles because of his important obscurity. The first Project-40 signing in league history, he bypassed the University of Maryland to turn pro. Parra started the season opener in 1997, we expected great things... What we got were seven total games in a season and a half before a trade to Miami.
A year later, two P-40 players joined Metro. One you might have heard of: Tim Howard. The other was a phenom named Barry Swift, who tore through New York City's high schools like he was a man playing against boys (he was, for whatever reason, a couple of years older than his classmates). The told his teammates the league promised him a Mercedes for signing, and then... played a total of 30 minutes before being released after the season. In 2003, he tried to come back to Metro's first reserve team, the long-forgotten MetroBlack, but failed. Howard? He worked out pretty well, here and elsewhere.
We pass through 1999 and 2000, when Octavio Zamrabno idiotically squandered the #1 overall draft pick on non-P-40 Steve Shak instead of going for P-40 players Carlos Bocanegra, Nick Garcia, Danny Califf, and Bobby Convey, and land in 2001. When that draft came around, a Project-40 player fell in their lap... and it was someone no one has ever heard of. Local boy Martin Klinger was identified by Zamrabno, entered the draft, and proceeded to become quite possibly the worst player in team history. He somehow managed to appear in 13 games over two seasons, but he was so over-marched every minute he stepped on the field, it stopped being funny rather quickly. Later that year, another P-40 player joined Metro... through the lottery.
Oh, the MLS player lottery! After assigning P-40 players locally or randomly (well, not so randomly) early on, MLS decided that players should go into the draft... unless they signed in midseason. In that case, teams that desired such a player could enter a lottery. Metro won one of the first instances, taking goalkeeper D.J. Countess, who backstopped US to the fourth place finish at the U-17 World Cup three years earlier and played at the U-20 World Cup in 2001. Of course, with Howard still on the team, Countess was surplus to requirements, so he was dealt before the 2002 season to Dallas for Winston Griffiths without playing a minute for Metro.
Drafting third overall in 2002, Metro took Brad Davis from St. Louis. Later that year, they won another lottery, for Countess' teammate at UCLA and the youth World Cup teams, defender Nelson Akwari. Akwari's tenure with Metro was all of seven games, as he was dealt at the 2003 draft to Columbus for a draft pick that would become Tim Regan. Just like Countess, Akwari pretty much flamed out of MLS in a couple of seasons.
But that 2003 draft... oh, that 2003 draft. It might be the best draft by a team in the history of MLS, even if we reduce it to Metro's P-40 haul. Bob Bradley took Ricardo Clark second overall and dumped Davis, the previous year's #3 pick for the fourth pick that yielded Mike Magee. Eddie Gaven followed in the second round, and Jacob LeBlanc in the 5th. Alright, that last one wasn't exactly anything special, lasting just a year with Metro and the league. The other three, however... all all-stars, all MLS Cup winners (elsewhere), MLS MVP (Magee), World Cup (Clark). Oh, and Davis: all-star, MLS Cup (elsewhere), World Cup... ugh. What could have been.
In 2004, one Project-40 player joined: Michael Bradley, taken by father Bob in the fourth round. That name might ring a bell. He missed the entirety of that season with an injury, and was joined on the 2005 team by first round wingback, Tim Ward. Both were gone after the year, Bradley sold by the clown Alexi Lalas to Heerenveen, and Ward shipped to Columbus for elder statesman Chris Henderson. Ward played 14 games for Metro and had his career stall elsewhere. Bradley? An automatic starter in 2005, so much potential... we wonder what happened to him?
In 2006, Project-40 became Generation Adidas, and new coach Mo Johnston traded with his old boss Bradley for the #1 overall pick, used on Marvell Wynne. Then, in the second round, he grabbed Jozy Altidore. And with the lottery on its last leg, Metro won US U-17 World Cup attacker David Arvizu. Wynne? MLS Cup winner (elsewhere), US national team. Altidore? MLS Cup winner (elsewhere), World Cup. Arvizu? Not a minute played for Metro, traded to Chivas USA for an eighth rounder... and then not a minute for Chivas USA.
Let's wrap this up, for it's getting quite long (but not like you have anything better to do). In 2009, Juan Carlos Osorio drafted U-17 World Cup winger Jeremy Hall after sitting next to him on a plane and being amazed that he spoke Spanish. He proceeded to turn Hall into a right back... it didn't exactly work out, here or elsewhere. In 2010, Metro's new Scandinavian brass took Tony Tchani second overall. He showed lots of promise, but bounced all around MLS (he did get capped by both USA and Cameroon, for all that's worth). Finally, in 2011, Metro drafted striker Corey Hertzog 13th overall. 35 minutes in league play, one goal in the Open Cup... still, beats Martin Klinger.