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Club-by-club listing of the best-ever SuperDraft picks in MLS history – MLSsoccer.com

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Courtesy of San Jose Earthquakes

Look at the history of your team. Who are your club legends?

Names like Landon Donovan, Jaime Moreno or Kyle Beckerman probably come to mind. One thing you will notice about those three players, and many others, is that those players came from some other team before they arrived at the clubs where they became household names.

But there are a few that went on to become superstars for the same teams that drafted them.

Below are our choices for each club’s best draft pick over the course of their MLS history. As with our other SuperDraft history articles, we are only looking at players who had a massive impact with the clubs that drafted them.

Atlanta United: Julian Gressel

A few years from now this pick could change to Miles Robinson, a 2019 Best XI selection, but his fellow 2017 draftee has been more influential to the Five Stripes’ success over their first three years in the league. Gressel has 15 goals and 35 assists in 98 MLS appearances (88 starts) and has helped Atlanta win the 2018 MLS Cup, 2019 U.S. Open Cup and 2019 Campeones Cup.

Chicago Fire: C.J. Brown

Brown was selected by the Fire in the Supplemental Draft before their inaugural season. He ended up spending 13 seasons with the club, helping them take home a MLS Cup (1998), four U.S. Open Cups (1998, 2000, 2003, 2006) and a Supporters’ Shield (2003). He is currently an assistant coach for the New York Red Bulls under Fire teammate Chris Armas.

FC Cincinnati: Frankie Amaya

With just one year to go on, Amaya is the easy selection. The 2019 No. 1 pick played 1,241 minutes in his rookie season and should continue to develop under Ron Jans.

Colorado Rapids: Omar Cummings

Despite their long history, the Rapids haven’t had too much success in the SuperDraft. Their best pick comes back in 2007 when they selected Cummings in the third round. In six seasons with the club, the Jamaican international scored 39 goals and collected 27 assists. His best season came in 2010, when he scored 14 goals and helped the Rapids take home MLS Cup.

Columbus Crew SC: Chad Marshall

Drafted second overall, Marshall was an instant starter for the Crew. He spent 10 seasons with the club, making 253 appearances and helping Columbus to the 2008 MLS Cup and three Supporters’ Shields (2004, 2008, 2009). Marshall also won Defender of the Year in 2008 and 2009. He later went on to help the Seattle Sounders win three trophies, including the 2016 MLS Cup. The four-time Best XI selection is considered among the top defenders in MLS history.

D.C. United: Eddie Pope

The second pick in the inaugural MLS College Draft, Pope went on to become one of the best defenders in MLS history. He spent seven seasons with D.C., winning three MLS Cups (1996, 1997, 1999) and a Defender of the Year award (1997). He was named to two MLS Best XIs while with United (1997, 1998).

FC Dallas: Matt Hedges

This one was tough, but Hedges is the choice after eight outstanding seasons with the club. Hedges has appeared in 243 games in his eight seasons in Dallas and has led the team to five playoff appearances and was named the 2016 Defender of the Year.

Houston Dynamo: Geoff Cameron

A third-round pick in 2008, Cameron came on board with a team that had just won two straight MLS Cups. He made 23 appearances, mostly as a substitute, before becoming a starter in his second season. He was named to the 2009 Best XI and helped lead the Dynamo to a MLS Cup appearance in 2011 before leaving for Stoke City in the English Premier League in 2012.

LAFC: Tristan Blackmon

With just two drafts under their belt, LAFC have been able to find some quality pieces. The most notable is Blackmon, who has filled in at center back and right back over his first two seasons and will likely enter 2020 as the starting right back for Bob Bradley.

LA Galaxy: Omar Gonzalez

It’s strange that a team as storied as the Galaxy don’t have many draft picks over the years that became stars. One exception is Gonzalez, who was drafted third overall in 2009. In seven seasons with the club, he made 180 appearances and helped the team win three MLS Cups (2011, 2012, 2014). Individually, he won Rookie of the Year (2009), Defender of the Year (2011) and was named to the MLS Best XI four times (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014). He left the Galaxy for Liga MX and Pachuca after the 2014 campaign, but has since returned to MLS with Toronto FC

Minnesota United FC: Mason Toye

The Loons have some major hits over their first three drafts, including two in 2019 with Hassani Dotson and Chase Gasper. It was close, but Toye is the pick here thanks to his six goals in 2019. He will look to continue to increase that number in 2020.

Montreal Impact: Calum Mallace

The Impact have been unsuccessful in the SuperDraft to a shocking degree, with no regular starters selected over their eight drafts. One player who stood out was Mallace, who was selected in the second round of the 2012 SuperDraft. After two seasons spent mostly on the sidelines, Mallace emerged as a regular contributor in 2014 and made 80 league appearances over six seasons. He was a major factor in the Impact’s run to the 2015 Concacaf Champions League final.

New England Revolution: Taylor Twellman

Despite the Revs’ long history, and many successful drafts, this pick was easy. Twellman was drafted second overall in the 2002 SuperDraft and immediately became one of the best players in MLS. In seven seasons, he scored an incredible 99 goals and helped the Revolution reach four MLS Cups. He won the MVP in 2005 and was named to two Best XIs (2002, 2005). His 101 goals place him 10th in MLS history.

New York City FC: Jack Harrison

Technically, Harrison was picked by Chicago with the No. 1 overall selection of the 2016 SuperDraft, but he was immediately traded to NYCFC, the team that had already sought unsuccessfully to place a Homegrown claim on him. The young English winger made an immediate impact when he entered the lineup in early summer, and went on to collect 14 goals and 13 assists in 55 games before being sold to Manchester City prior to the 2018 season.

New York Red Bulls: Jozy Altidore

The main reason for this pick is because of the $10 million transfer fee that Spanish powerhouse Villarreal paid the Red Bulls to acquire Altidore. That kind of money was hard to come by in MLS back then, and is hard to overlook.

Orlando City SC: Cyle Larin

The 2015 expansion side hit their first pick out of the park with Larin. He scored the most goals ever by a rookie (17), easily taking home Rookie of the Year honors. After three seasons and 43 goals in Orlando, Larin was sold to Besiktas prior to the 2018 season.

Philadelphia Union: Andre Blake

Blake’s selection was a surprising one at the time, as the Union already had Rais M’bolhi and Zac MacMath on their goalkeeper depth chart (let Andrew Wiebe take you back to how that draft went down). The No. 1 pick waited his turn and since taking over the starting role in 2016, the Jamaican international has been mostly stellar. The 29-year-old was named the Goalkeeper of the Year in 2016.

Portland Timbers: Darlington Nagbe

The first draft pick by the Timbers after they joined MLS, Nagbe went No. 2 overall in the 2011 SuperDraft. Since then he has become one of the top players in MLS, making 214 appearances with the Timbers, collecting 27 goals and 30 assists plus a goal and two assists in postseason play. He was the driving force in the Timbers’ run to the 2015 MLS Cup title and later helped Atlanta United win MLS Cup in 2018.

Real Salt Lake: Tony Beltran

Players like Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Javier Morales and Nat Borchers helped RSL become a perennial contender for much of their existence in MLS. But none of those players came through the draft. One player that did is Beltran, who was selected third overall in 2008. The right back appeared in 245 matches over 10 seasons before succumbing to injuries and retiring in 2019.

San Jose Earthquakes: Chris Wondolowski

The MLS Goal King was drafted by the Quakes in the 2005 Supplemental Draft and moved with them to Houston after just one season. After three-and-a-half seasons away from Northern California, Wondo returned to San Jose and has not stopped scoring. It appears he has one more season to add to his record total of 159 goals.

Seattle Sounders: Cristian Roldan

The biggest surprise of the 2015 SuperDraft was that Roldan fell all the way to No. 16, where he could be selected by the Sounders. Seattle had plenty of chances to scout the California native who played college ball with Washington, and the central midfielder has shown that he was maybe the best player in that draft (depending on how you feel about Larin). The 24-year-old is now a regular with the USMNT and has helped the Sounders capture two MLS Cups (2016, 2019).

Sporting Kansas City: Matt Besler

it’s nearly a push between Besler and Graham Zusi but the center back was selected in the first round of the 2009 SuperDraft and has helped lead them to a decade of success. In his time with Sporting he has captured the MLS Cup (2013) and three U.S. Open Cups (2012, 2015, 2017). He was named captain prior to the 2014 season.

Toronto FC: Maurice Edu

TFC fans have seen plenty of disappointing draft picks over the years, but one bright spot was their first MLS selection in Edu. He was named Rookie of the Year in 2007 before Toronto collected a hefty transfer fee for the California native in the middle of 2008.

Vancouver Whitecaps: Tim Parker

It was pretty slim pickings for the Whitecaps with Parker, Kekuta Manneh and Jake Nerwinski being the only notable selections. The nod goes to Parker, who was a two-and-a-half year starter at center back, helping them finish third in the Western Conference in 2017. He fetched Felipe and $500,000 in Targeted Allocation Money when traded prior to the 2018 season.




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Canadiens come up nearly empty against Rangers in home opener – Montreal Gazette

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Jonathan Drouin’s goal gave hockey starved Montreal fans their only thrill in a 3-1 loss.

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A third-period goal by Alexis Lefreniére proved to be the difference as the New York Rangers defeated the Canadiens 3-1 to spoil the home opener at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.

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Lafrenière got behind the defence and Jake Allen had little chance as he converted a perfect pass from Mika Zibanejad to snap a 1-1 tie. The goal at 9:50 came 26 seconds after Jonathan Drouin gave the near-sellout crowd some hope when he ended Igor Shesterkin’s shutout bid. He was set up by Christian Dvorak, who carried the puck behind the net and found Drouin in the slot.

Kevin Rooney completed the scoring for the Rangers with an empty-net goal.

Shesterkin made 31 saves, while Allen stopped 21 of 23 shots.

After a listless first period, the Rangers picked up the pace to start the second and the Canadiens provided some opportunities by taking three consecutive penalties before the period was 10 minutes old. Montreal did a good job killing the first two, but New York got the bounce to take a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal at 9:59.

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Chris Krieder was credited with his third goal of the season when he deflected a shot by Zibanejad. Allen stopped the shot, but the rebound went in off defenceman Alexander Romanov.

The Canadiens created two scoring chances later in the second period. Cédric Paquette deflected a shot by Jeff Petry and it was headed to the top corner when Shesterkin made a spectacular glove save.

Two minutes later, defenceman David Savard showed off his puck-handling skills as he weaved his way through the Rangers and tried to find Brendan Gallagher in front. Gallagher was unable to control the pass for a shot and Shesterkin pounced on the loose puck.

The Canadiens’ power play continues to experience problems. Montreal had two power plays in the first period and managed only one shot on goal. They had four shots on a third-period advantage, but the best scoring chance came on a shorthanded breakaway by Zibanejad. The Montreal power play is now 0-for 11 on the season

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There were few opportunities for either team in the first period, which ended with the Rangers outshooting the Canadiens 7-5. Josh Anderson had the best scoring chance when he unleashed a shot from the right faceoff circle. Shesterkin was unable to handle the shot cleanly, but the puck trickled wide. Tyler Toffoli attempted a wraparound late in the period, but Shesterkin sealed off the post.

The game was preceded by words of welcome from team owner Geoff Molson and a drawn-out introduction of the players, coaches, the training and medical staffs and various other members of  the hockey operations department. The loudest ovation was for Drouin, who returned to action this season after taking timer off to deal with anxiety.

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During a break in the first period, the Canadiens announced this will be the final  season for Pierre Gervais as the team’s equipment manager. Gervais, who has been involved in more 3,000 games over a 35-year career, will remain with the team in yet-to-be-determined new role.

This was the first of four consecutive homes games for the Canadiens. They will welcome the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, followed by the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday and the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

phickey@postedia.com

twitter.com/zababes1

  1. MONTREAL, QUE.: September 26, 2021 -- Saturday night's game against the New York Rangers will be the first one with a full crowd at the Bell Centre since March 10, 2020, when the Canadiens lost 4-2 to the Nashville Predators.

    Jonathan Drouin excited about playing in front of fans at Bell Centre

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    Make-or-break season for Canadiens prospect Poehling | HI/O Bonus

  3. Canadiens Shea Weber moves the puck up ice during first period against the Calgary Flames in Montreal on April 14, 2021.

    Hickey on hockey: Weber departure would be feather in Habs’ salary cap

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Canadiens vs. Rangers: Game thread, rosters, lines, and how to watch – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers

How to watch

Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: CityTV, Sportsnet East (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the Rangers region: MSG
Streaming: ESPN+, NHL Live, Sportsnet Now

We pick the best three comments from each game thread to feature in our Top Six Minutes articles which are published at the conclusion of the game. Be sure to share your best gif or analysis to become a star.

The Montreal Canadiens head to the Bell Centre for the first meaningful action since last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. The last game Montreal fans witnessed in person was an overtime victory on Josh Anderson’s second goal of Game 4 in the Final.

Anderson was responsible for that last goal the Canadiens scored in 2020-21, and had a major hand in the first one versus the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night, but offence has been very difficult to come by for the team since that goal seven minutes into the opener; there’s only been one more since.

As a reaction, lines were juggled in the most recent match in Buffalo, but to little avail. Even so, Dominique Ducharme is sticking with the group he has hoping that his players will quickly find solutions.

The Rangers’ bid to increase their early-season offence was dealt a blow when Ryan Strome was ruled out by the COVID protocol for tonight’s game, knocking one of the top point-producers from a season ago out of action. Both teams will be missing significant offensive pieces as they go for their first win, but one of the clubs is going to avoid a winless start, even if it takes Marek Malik coming out of retirement to end it.

Montreal Canadiens projected lineup

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
#40 Joel Armia #14 Nick Suzuki #22 Cole Caufield
#92 Jonathan Drouin #28 Christian Dvorak #17 Josh Anderson
#73 Tyler Toffoli #71 Jake Evans #11 Brendan Gallagher
#85 Mathieu Perreault #13 Cédric Paquette #62 Artturi Lehkonen

Defencemen

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
#27 Alexander Romanov #26 Jeff Petry
#8 Ben Chiarot #58 David Savard
#77 Brett Kulak #20 Chris Wideman

Goaltenders

Starter Backup
Starter Backup
#34 Jake Allen #35 Samuel Montembeault

New York Rangers projected lineup

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Alexis Lafrenière Mika Zibanejad Chris Kreider
Artemiy Panarin Filip Chytil Kaapo Kakko
Sammy Blais Barclay Goodrow Julien Gauthier
Dryden Hunt Kevin Rooney Ryan Reaves

Goaltenders

Starter Backup
Starter Backup
Igor Shesterkin Alexandar Georgiev

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In ever-evolving NBA, Raptors’ length and athleticism opens doors on defence – Sportsnet.ca

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Under head coach Nick Nurse, the Toronto Raptors have always worked to stay abreast of league trends, or even push the envelope on what might be next.

As an assistant coach, Nurse received a considerable amount of credit for overseeing an effort to inject more spacing, ball movement and player movement into an offensive approach that had grown too reliant on DeMar DeRozan’s mid-range isolations. The result was a team-record 59-win season in 2017-18. Nurse also had his fingerprints on the “bench mob” – the high-tempo, aggressive defence-first group that was a big part of the Raptors’ regular-season success.

Since becoming head coach in 2019-19, Nurse’s defensive focus has been more apparent, with the Raptors embracing liberal switching on the perimeter as well as a growing reliance on zone defences – tactics that were less common across the league than they quickly became.

But basketball’s pace of change hasn’t stalled. You can only pay so much attention to games that don’t matter, but it’s hard not to notice that in pre-season play the Golden State Warriors are putting up an astounding 55 three-point shots a game. Four other teams – Sacramento, Denver, Utah and Oklahoma City are averaging 45 three-point attempts.

For context the only teams in league history to average 45 three-point shots a game were the 2018-19 and 2019-20 Houston Rockets, with James Harden at his gun-slinging peak. A decade ago NBA teams averaged 20 three-point attempts a game. Last season it was 34 and still climbing apparently.

“I don’t know if any of us sat here at some point and said the amount of threes are going to be double … or whatever the number is,” said Nurse. “… It does evolve pretty quickly though.”

Given the value of those shots, a team that wants to be effective defensively must have a plan to discourage them being taken, or at least make them more difficult.

One of the benefits of a roster rounded out with so many players in the six-foot-six to six-foot-nine range – the Raptors only have four players in training camp shorter – is the pressure they can put on perimeter shooters.

The Raptors got a taste of it last season, when six-foot-nine Chris Boucher led the NBA with .84 blocked three-pointers a game and was ranked fourth in the league in the percentage that opponents shot when he was the closest defender. Pascal Siakam ranked second in the league in the number of three-pointers contested after leading that category in 2019-20.

As a whole, the Raptors weren’t especially good at defending the three-point line – opponents shot 37.9 per cent from deep, which was above league average and ranked them 24th overall – but given the range of mitigating circumstances they faced last season it’s probably not something to dwell on. The Raptors led the NBA in that category in 2019-20 when the set a franchise record for winning percentage.

This is a different team with plenty of new faces, but maybe having a roster full of athletic, agile guys in the mould of Boucher and Siakam could pay dividends in a league where it looks like more teams are going to be hoisting threes than ever before.

Raptors rookie Dalano Banton has certainly had the importance of getting to three-point shooters impressed upon him in his weeks-old NBA career, and as a nimble six-foot-nine guard, he can play the part.

“Shot contesting is one of our pillars that we go off of on defence as well as pressuring the ball so guys don’t get easy shots so, running them off the line,” said Banton after practice Friday. “In this league guys make shots and they make it at a high clip so I feel like just doing the best you can to run out at every shot that gets put up by the other team is big for us and being in our defensive stance, just showing length and just discouraging them from making plays they’d make if we weren’t in our right spots.

“…Just being in the right spot is just the biggest part of the battle and showing your hands. Once you’re there, it puts your whole team in a better position to play defence.”

Selling out on three-point shooters takes trust. Actually blocking a shot is rare and smart teams and players will look to pump fake on careless closeouts and look for a side-step three, a chance to penetrate the paint for layups, generate kick-outs to open shooters or simply swing the ball to take advantage of a scrambling defence.

It’s not enough to run at a shooter, it has to be done properly.

“Just playing the game the way you practice — running guys off lines and the next guy helping and making the next play,” says Banton. “So, it’s just about the offence having to make the next play, not giving them that shot or that layup, having to make them make that extra pass. The guy behind you is gonna help, we’re all playing defence in one line together so we’re all trying to work in a tandem and move where we have to move and rotate to the right spots.”

It’s music to Nurse’s ears. The goal of his scheme, he says, it to challenge every shot, everywhere.

“It’s kind of icing on the cake when we get a block [on a three-pointer],” he said. “I think I’m really more concerned that we’re making a heavy contest. Obviously the block is the heaviest of all contests. We just want to make sure we make it contested. It goes to hustle and hard play: You’ve got to keep playing the whole possession. Sometimes you’ve got to fire out, fire out, fire out.

“Every now and then you get put in rotations and some teams are really good in making you do it. But you’ve got to do it. That’s just an effort and hustle thing that we want the heavy contest. Chris [Boucher] has certainly got a knack, incredible timing on that stuff. I’m not sure it’s teachable or transferable … What we teach and what we drill every day is heavy contesting.”

Changing times call for changing measures – and maybe a lot of long, athletic guys flying around at the three-point line like never before.

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