The 2013 MLS SuperDraft has come and gone and the Quakes set out exactly what they planned to achieve after a benchmark 2012 season.
With the addition of the 2012 Supporters’ Shield to the trophy cabinet, San Jose will not only face a competitive 2013 regular season schedule supplemented with U.S. Open Cup matches and international friendlies, but will also compete internationally in the 2013/14 CONCACAF Champions League.
San Jose added depth, skill, and work rate with the newest additions of No. 15 overall pick and Georgetown central defender Tommy Muller, No. 33 overall pick and University of San Diego midfielder Dan Delgado, and former Portland Timbers’ left-footed forward Michael Fucito.
The Quakes do, however, possess three picks in the 2013 Supplemental Draft, scheduled for Jan. 22. With an already full roster eager to hoist the 2013 MLS Cup, the Quakes might be perceived as holding three selections that may yield little long-run returns. Yet, historically, San Jose has found the proverbial “diamonds in the rough” with the additional draft. A testament to San Jose’s scouting network and shrewd internal decision-making, the Quakes’ Supplemental draft picks have not only produced tenured professionals but All-Stars and national team veterans.
Names such as current LA Galaxy assistant coach Curt Onalfo, NCAA Division III All-America Adam Smarte, and UCLA standout defender Adam Frye may not resonate as loudly throughout the professional soccer community as others. All three were taken in the Supplemental Draft.
The Quakes did, however, identify talent where other teams may have overlooked.
Brian Ching: 2003 Supplemental Draft - Round 1, Pick 1
Brian Ching, an accomplished Hawaiian via Gonzaga, was plying his trade for the Seattle Sounders for part of 2001 and all of 2002. The imposing striker led the A-League in scoring in 2002 and saw his stock start to ascend. The Quakes selected Ching in 2003 to play in-tandem with a budding Dwayne De Rosario. The pick proved immediately fruitful – the Quakes beat the Chicago Fire 4-2 in front of a sold out Home Depot Center in the 2003 MLS Cup and Ching netted six goals and two assists in 15 league games.
From a personal standpoint, Ching’s 2004 season may have eclipsed 2003. The former Bulldog netted 12 goals and 4 assists to earn him the MLS Golden Boot.
Ching would go on to play three seasons for the Earthquakes from 2003 to 2005 while netting 25 goals and 11 assists. When the Quakes departed for Houston in 2006, Ching was instrumental in their 2006 and 2007 MLS Cup victories. On the international level, the Hawaiian has received 45 full U.S. Men’s National Team caps and netted 11 goals.
Chris Wondolowski: 2005 Supplemental Draft – Round 4, Pick 41
Emblematic of resolve, Chris Wondolowski’s past three years have been surreal for the Danville, CA native. The Quakes’ number 8 has netted an astonishing 61 goals in 90 MLS Regular Season games, an MLS record.
Awards have come aplenty – three-time MLS All-Star, two-time outright Golden Boot Winner, and the 2012 Volkswagen MLS MVP. The 2012 season, in particular, saw Wondo win the 2012 Budweiser Golden Boot after netting a league-tying 27 goals, named to the AT&T MLS All-Star team, and garner the Volkswagen MLS MVP award.
Such fame has not come without sacrifice for Wondolowski. The Quakes selected altogether 10 players ahead of Wondolowski in the 2005 draft. A former All-America at NCAA Division II Chico State, Wondolowski found minutes sparingly in his first season with the Quakes – a seldom five in total. Playing time did not see much of an increase when the Quakes left for Houston. After four seasons, 37 league matches, and four goals, Wondolowski was ultimately traded back to San Jose for Cam Weaver in 2009.
Now 29-years-old, Wondolowski still plays with the characteristic hunger and determination that has propelled his career this far. If the past three years have been any indication, a 2013 season will be another landmark year for the once-overlooked predatory finisher.