A Look Back: MLS’ fourth overall draft picks

Previous number four selections include Carlos Bocanegra, Teal Bunbury

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – High draft picks are a double-edged sword.

Apart from the occasional trade, clubs typically acquire high draft picks because their performance the previous season wasn’t up to standard. In that sense, clubs prefer to avoid having a top-five selection.

But on the other hand, what’s done is done and the chance to snap up a quality player early in the draft provides one route for clubs to strengthen the roster and begin climbing up the table. That’s precisely the position the New England Revolution finds itself in after finishing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings in 2012.

The Revs currently hold the fourth overall selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, set to unfold at the Indiana Convention Center on Thursday, Jan. 17. Last year, we looked back at all the previous third overall selections in MLS history before the Revs selected Kelyn Rowe in that spot. This year, we’ve done the same with the league’s previous fourth overall picks …

1996
Adam Frye (Tampa Bay Mutiny)
Drafted ahead of UCLA teammates Greg Vanney (17th overall), Eddie Lewis (23rd overall) and Ante Razov (27th overall), Adam Frye never quite reached the lofty heights of his fellow Bruins. After making 43 appearances during three seasons in Tampa Bay, Frye was released and scooped up by the San Jose Clash, where he appeared in three games in 1999. Frye’s most successful stint came between 2000 and 2002, when he scored two goals in 48 appearances with the LA Galaxy, winning the 2001 U.S. Open Cup and 2002 MLS Cup.

1997
Alberto Montoya (San Jose Clash)
The 1997 MLS College Draft class was likely the weakest in league history and Alberto Montoya did little to buck the trend. A California native, Montoya was selected by his hometown San Jose Clash but spent the majority of his rookie season on loan with the Raleigh Flyers (A-League). Montoya finally made his MLS debut with the Clash in 1998, but it was both his first and last appearance as he went into coaching the following year. The 37-year-old is currently the head coach of the U.S. Under-17 women’s national team.

1998
Chris Klein (Kansas City Wizards)
While the San Jose Clash missed badly by selecting Ben Parry (zero MLS appearances) with the third overall pick, Kansas City struck gold by nabbing future MLS All-Star Chris Klein with the next selection. The former Indiana Hoosier went on to make more than 300 career appearances with the Wizards (200), Real Salt Lake (43) and LA Galaxy (90), setting league records for consecutive starts (118) and consecutive appearances (141) along the way. Klein’s performances earned him 23 caps with the U.S. National Team, for which he scored five goals. He currently serves as Vice President of the Galaxy.

1999
Lazo Alavanja (Dallas Burn)
Although more notable for his time with the Charleston Battery (USL) and various indoor teams, Lazo Alavanja began his professional career with the Dallas Burn, making 25 appearances between 1999 and 2000. The Indiana native and four-year standout at Indiana University also had brief stints with the Miami Fusion (2001) and D.C. United (2002) before splitting his time between the Battery and a pair of indoor teams to close out his career.

2000
Carlos Bocanegra (Chicago Fire)
Perhaps the most decorated player to be selected fourth overall, Carlos Bocanegra has made more than 100 appearances for the U.S. National Team, captaining his country at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Although he has since had successful spells throughout Europe – most notably a five-year stint with Fulham in the Barclays Premier League – Bocanegra got his start with the Chicago Fire, making 87 appearances between 2000 and 2004. The versatile defender won Rookie of the Year honors in 2000 before claiming back-to-back Defender of the Year awards in 2002 and 2003. He currently plays for Racing Santander in Spain’s Segunda Division.

2001
Ryan Nelsen (D.C. United)
If Bocanegra is the best defender ever selected fourth overall in the MLS Draft, Ryan Nelsen is a close second. The New Zealand captain moved Stateside to attend Greensboro College in 1997 and subsequently transferred to Stanford University in 1999, where he earned All-America honors. Nelsen spent four years with United, twice earning MLS Best XI honors and captaining D.C. to an MLS Cup triumph in 2004. In 2005 he moved to England, where he’s featured for Blackburn Rovers, Tottenham Hotspur and currently Queens Park Rangers. In an interesting twist, Nelsen was named head coach of Toronto FC on Jan. 8, but will continue to feature as a player with QPR for the time being.

2002
Justin Mapp (D.C. United)
It’s a little-known fact that Justin Mapp was actually selected by D.C. United, where he played a total of just 28 minutes in three appearances during his rookie season. Mapp was subsequently traded to the Chicago Fire prior to the 2003 season and went on to make 174 appearances for the club, scoring 14 goals and earning MLS Best XI honors in 2006. Another trade followed in 2010 when Mapp was sent to the Philadelphia Union, where he scored four goals in 44 appearances before being selected by the Montreal Impact in the 2011 Expansion Draft.

2003
Mike Magee (MetroStars)
One of the stars of the LA Galaxy’s MLS-Cup winning postseason runs in 2011 and 2012, Mike Magee has spent his entire career in New York and Los Angeles. The MetroStars drafted Magee fourth overall – after acquiring the pick from the Dallas Burn in exchange for Brad Davis – and he immediately stepped into the club’s lineup, scoring 23 goals in 130 appearances spanning six seasons. Magee was sent to the Galaxy prior to the 2009 season and has since earned a reputation as a big-game player, scoring three goals in both the 2011 and 2012 playoffs.

2004
Matt Taylor (Kansas City Wizards)
A Hermann Trophy finalist after a standout four-year career at UCLA, Matt Taylor saw limited action in his rookie season (524 minutes) but still managed to register three goals and one assist. That promise led to his selection by Chivas USA in the 2004 Expansion Draft, although injuries hampered his progress and Taylor scored just two goals in 37 appearances between 2005 and 2007. Now 31 years old, Taylor has made a name for himself in the lower levels of German soccer, currently scoring at will for Preußen Münster in the German third division.

2005
Danny O’Rourke (San Jose Earthquakes)
Before becoming a consistent starter with his hometown Columbus Crew, Danny O’Rourke spent single seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes (2005) and New York Red Bulls (2006), making 41 total appearances. After being selected by Toronto FC in the 2006 Expansion Draft, O’Rourke was immediately sent to the Crew along with goalkeeper William Hesmer. With Columbus, O’Rourke has made 123 appearances and was a key part of the Crew side which claimed the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup in 2008.

2006
Yura Movsisyan (Kansas City Wizards)
One of the most inspiring stories in SuperDraft history, Yura Movsisyan was drafted fourth overall after spending just one year at Pasadena City College, a community college outside Los Angeles. After scoring five goals spanning parts of two seasons in Kansas City, the Armenian National Teamer was traded to Real Salt Lake, where he notched 15 goals in two-and-a-half seasons and helped guide RSL to an MLS Cup title in 2009. He then made the leap to Europe, starting with Randers FC in Denmark before moving to FC Krasnodar in Russia. Just one month ago Movsisyan made another massive switch, completing a $9.7 million move to Spartak Moscow.

2007
Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
Although he made just seven appearances while serving as Nick Rimando’s backup for three years at Real Salt Lake, Seitz remains a promising young goalkeeper. Traded to Philadelphia prior to the Union’s expansion season in 2010, Seitz was the club’s starter for the first 22 games but ultimately moved on to FC Dallas prior to the 2011 campaign. Although he’s made only five appearances in two years while backing up the recently-released Kevin Hartman, Seitz became notable in 2012 when he was named the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year in a landslide after undergoing surgery to donate bone marrow.

2008
Sean Franklin (LA Galaxy)
An instant starter with the Galaxy, Sean Franklin has made 25 or more appearances in all but one of his seasons in LA; 2009, when he missed half the year through injury. The MLS Rookie of the Year in 2008, Franklin has started in three MLS Cup finals through his first five years in the league and has helped lead the Galaxy to a pair of Supporters’ Shields (2010, 2011) and a pair of MLS Cup titles (2011, 2012). A former member of the U.S. Under-20 and U.S. Under-23 teams, Franklin made his full national team debut in 2011.

2009
O’Brian White (Toronto FC)
A highly decorated four-year career at the University of Connecticut earned O’Brian White both the Hermann Trophy and Soccer America Player of the Year honors, leading to his selection by Toronto FC early in 2009. White spent two seasons in Toronto but managed just four goals in 33 appearances and was left unprotected ahead of the 2010 Expansion Draft, in which he was drafted by Vancouver Whitecaps FC and immediately traded to Seattle Sounders FC. Since the move, White has suffered from recurring blood clots in his left leg and had his contract bought out by Seattle in 2012 as he continues his recovery.

2010
Teal Bunbury (Kansas City Wizards)
After leading the nation with 17 goals during his sophomore year at Akron – and winning the Hermann Trophy in the process – Teal Bunbury has slowly translated that success into MLS with Kansas City. The Canadian-born forward tied for the team lead in scoring with nine goals in 2011, sandwiched between a pair of five-goal campaigns in 2010 and 2012. Bunbury made waves in 2010 when he chose to represent the U.S. at the full international level, making his debut against South Africa.

2011
Zarek Valentin (Chivas USA)
Following in the footsteps of 2010 fourth overall pick Teal Bunbury, Zarek Valentin entered the SuperDraft after two successful years at Akron. The outside back was an immediate contributor with Chivas USA, starting 24 games his rookie season, but he was surprisingly left unprotected ahead of the 2011 Expansion Draft and was snapped up by the Montreal Impact. Valentin made just 15 appearances with Montreal in 2012 but did notch his first professional goal and assist.

2012
Luis Silva (Toronto FC)
Selected one pick after the Revolution drafted Kelyn Rowe third overall, Luis Silva was an instant success with Toronto FC, scoring five goals and adding five assists to finish fourth in rookie of the year voting in 2012. Silva got his professional career off to a flying start when he scored on his debut in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, but waited until late in the regular season to notch all five of his goals and all five of his assists in a 13-game span between July and September.