MLS Draft 2011

SBI 2011 MLS Mock Draft (Version 1.0)

Darlington Nagbe (ISIPhotos.com)

The 2011 MLS Draft is two weeks away. That's right, just two weeks away, and the reality is that MLS teams are far from finished trying to figure out which players to move up and move down their draft lists.

Wondering who your team might take when the draft takes place? Over the course of the past three years we have made the SBI MLS Mock Draft a regular part of the lead-up to the Draft and while it's impossible for anybody to know how the draft will actually go, we're confident this Mock Draft is a good measure of where the draft's top prospects project, and which needs teams will be looking to fill.

Wondering what last year's first SBI MLS Mock Draft looked like? Here it is. Of the 16 players I had going in the first round, a total of 11 wound up actually going in the first round. Danny Mwanga wasn't a part of that Mock Draft because at that point he looked unlikely to sign with MLS (that was before MLS through a big-money offer to seal the deal).

So who is the top pick? Vancouver could wind up keeping the pick or trading it, but either way I think Akron standout Perry Kitchen will edge out teammate Darlington Nagbe for the honor of being the first player chosen.

Now, here is our first 2011 SBI MLS Mock Draft:

SBI MLS MOCK DRAFT (Version 1.0)


1. Vancouver Whitecaps- PERRY KITCHEN, M/F, Akron

The Whitecaps can go in a few different directions but will find it hard to pass on Kitchen's versatility and potential. Capable of playing centerback or defensive midfield, Kitchen also boasts good leadership qualities. With a tireless work rate and mature understanding of the game well beyond his years, Kitchen should be able to play right away. It should be noted that Vancouver won't rule out tradng this pick, and D.C. United covets Kitchen and could make a play to move up here.

2. Portland Timbers- DARLINGTON NAGBE, F, Akron

The Timbers already have some forwards signed, such as Eddie Johnson and Bright Dike, but John Spencer can't pass on the best attacking player in the draft. Nagbe's power and pace, combined with a sharp passing eye, make him a threat both as a striker and as a midfielder.

3. D.C. United- ZAREK VALENTIN, D, Akron

Having already added a quality young defender in Maryland standout Ethan White (who signed as a Homegrown Player), D.C. United could be tempted to turn to a striker with this pick, but defensive needs will lead the club to grab Valentin, a U.S. Under-20 centerback who could also slot in at right back. Having Valentin and White together would give D.C. a great defensive nucleus to partner with young goalkeeping standout Bill Hamid.

4. Chivas USA- OMAR SALGADO, F, U.S. Under-20

The club doesn't have a coach in place but the club is aware of its needs, and one of them is strikers. Enter Salgado, who is one of the best long-term prospect in the group. A 6-foot-3 forward who is just 17, Salgado boasts a unique combination of size and ball skills and his Mexican-American heritage and history with Chivas de Guadalajara make him the easy pick. Kofi Sarkodie and Will Bruin could also tempt the Rojiblancos.

5. Philadelphia Union- COREY HERTZOG, F, Penn State

A speedy player with a nose for the goal, Hertzog would make a great addition to a young forward line including Danny Mwanga and Jack McInerney. The Union tried to land Hertzog as a Homegrown Player before being turned down by MLS, but Peter Nowak gets the chance to add a player with local ties and plenty of talent.

6. New England Revolution- ZAC MACMATH, GK, Maryland

The Revolution has plenty of needs and could go for a striker like Will Bruin or a defender like A.J. Soares, but Steve Nicol will be hard-pressed to pass on a franchise goalkeeper like MacMath. Matt Reis just re-signed, but MacMath would be an ideal successor. If MacMath is off the board, the Revs would be a good bet to pounce on Will Bruin.

7. Houston- WILL BRUIN, F, Indiana

Dom Kinnear would probably have jumped all over Kofi Sarkodie if Houston hadn't just signed Hunter Freeman. That being the case, the Dynamo can add a strong forward in Bruin, who can learn from Brian Ching and potentially partner him in year one. Knowing Houston, a trade wouldn't be a surprise here either.

8. Vancouver- KOFI SARKODIE, D, Akron

In his last year as D.C. United head coach, Tom Soehn was able to draft Rodney Wallace and Chris Pontius. This time around, Soehn is the Whitecaps technical director and he will jump for joy of he can land both Kitchen and Sarkodie, two teenage talents who could start for years. This might seem a bit low for Sarkodie, a player with Top 5 talent, but he only slips because the three teams picking before this already have right backs.

9. Chicago- A.J. SOARES, D, California

The Fire need central defense help after the departure of Wilman Conde and retirement of C.J. Brown and Soares can provide that. He's a threat to score on set pieces and he's a good passer out of the back, which will work well in the possession game head coach Carlos de Los Cobos wants to play.

10. Sporting KC- JALIL ANIBABA, D, North Carolina

Replacing veteran defender Jimmy Conrad won't be easy, but KC will be happy to grab an athletic centerback like Anibaba, who has the talent to step in and start for the club formerly known as the Wizards.

11. Seattle Sounders- ANTHONY AMPAIPITAKWONG, M, Akron

It's no secret the Sounders lacked a bit of midfield creativity, and Seattle also lost Sanna Nyassi in the off-season. Ampaipitakwong can help address both those issues. He's quick, tireless and very creative, just the type of spark the Sounders attack needs.

12. Columbus Crew- MICHAEL NANCHOFF, M, Akron

Robert Warzycha could be tempted to go for UNC midfielder Stephen McCarthy as a potential replacement for Brian Carroll, but adding Ohio native Nanchoff, a dangerous left winger, would give the Crew a variety of lineup options.

13. New York Red Bulls- MICHAEL FARFAN, M, North Carolina

The Red Bulls come in looking for defensive depth and potentially a creative midfielder and forward. With two other picks in the Top 30 New York can wait for a central defender (especially if Soares and Anibaba are gone) so the Red Bulls grab one of the most creative players in the draft. The Red Bulls could also be tempted to grab Michigan striker Justin Meram.

14. Real Salt Lake- JUSTIN MERAM, F, Michigan

After losing Robbie Findley to Europe, RSL headed into the off-season needing a forward. If RSL can land Meram here it will be another positive step in a memorable winter. Meram is a dangerous goalscorer, someone who loves going at defenders and can score from anywhere. A good Combine performance could see Meram go even higher, but RSL would pounce if he's available here.

15. San Jose Earthquakes- COLE GROSSMAN, M, Duke

The Earthquakes can use some midfield depth, particularly of the attacking variety, and Grossman is one of the best available players to fit that description. He's a sharp passer, can score goals and has a good motor. Frank Yallop could also take a look at Maryland striker Jason Herrick here.

16. Los Angeles Galaxy- JASON HERRICK, F, Maryland

Bruce Arena dealt away Tristan Bowen, and Edson Buddle's future with the Galaxy is still uncertain, so the Galaxy really need to find a forward in the draft and Herrick is one of the better ones available.

17. FC Dallas- STEPHEN McCARTHY, M, North Carolina

Daniel Hernandez isn't getting any younger and McCarthy is one of the most highly-regarded defensive midfield prospects around. He's 6-foot-4 with good feet and he's also a good set piece threat. McCarthy could easily wind up going higher with a good Combine showing.

18. Colorado Rapids- ASHLEY McINNES, M/F, Tulsa

The Rapids can use some speed and depth on the wing and McInnes can give the MLS champions just that. A forward and midfielder, McInnes has the speed, passing ability and versatility to help the Rapids right away.


I will post our next Mock Draft (a two-rounder) next week, before the Combine, and the final Mock Draft (a full three rounds) will post the day before the 2011 MLS Draft.

What do you think of these picks? Like the players your team ended up with? Any pick you particularly love or hate?

Share your thoughts below.

  • b

    Oh, Ives had him on quite high on his draft big board, but apparently he was only coming out if he got a GenAd contract:

    10. *DAVID BINGHAM, California, Goalkeeper

    Considered a prospect on par with Zac MacMath, Bingham is a first-round talent who may not be available in the draft after initially being bypassed for a Generation adidas contract.


  • Hincha Tim

    Swed, on what basis do you say that RSL is interested in MacMath. I’ve seen nothing at all that would indicate this. And RSL’s backup keeper played exceptionally well last year when he was given the chance. I think RSL will be looking for a left back or a a great value at forward, whichever they think is the best player left at one of those positions when they pick.


  • gunner04

    someone else asked this in an earlier thread, but i never saw an answer. can underclassmen without GA deals enter the draft? and how often does that happen? so if kassel isnt signed to a homegrown deal by RBNY, what are the chances he returns to school?


  • b

    Did the incoming class commit before or after Akron won the College Cup?

    Either way, it’s scary to see how good the NEXT class will be after half a dozen players from Akron are picked in the first round of the upcoming draft….


  • b

    I’m guessing the next college to do it in any major team sport will be… Akron in soccer again in a year or two.


  • Yaznasty

    Nah our whole team is gone. I’m friends with one of the managers though and he said he’d be back for at least one more season so that’s good haha


  • Yaznasty

    To my knowledge the 2011 recruiting class has been committed for a while…verballed at least. Don’t know too much about the 2012 class yet, except that one of the nation’s top defenders has verballed.


  • socc3r

    ive searched him quite a few teams actually. i know he left after they won their title (he didnt get much playing time during their run). he said he was trying his hand at playing professionally but i didnt say where. hope injuries didnt end his career as he should be around 21 now and had top european clubs looking at him in high school.


  • EMF

    What’s up with all these whiny b*tches that got beef with Ives and his exclusive commentary. It is FAR too easy to complain… I understand if you disagree and verbalize that.. it’s fine if you post your disagreements, but the moment you make it personal, you, my friend, are out-of place. Ives, please delete this nonsense. We are lucky we have this blog/access. If ur the hot-sh*t, please make your own blog, try to get millions of hits/year, and then you can think your opinion means something.


  • EMF

    Sorry, this sentiment has just been building for me for awhile on this site and B was the latest poster in that line. No ill meant, just tired of people acting like they know better. Ives isn’t perfect; neither are you, get over it.


  • EMF

    You really sound like a better-than-thou BigSoccer poster here. You may be right, but its just not worth it. Calling people infantile for disagreeing with you is never beneficial.


  • Wally

    Apparently Sarkodie is more of a right back, wouldnt make sense with Alston still young in the fold.


  • CUSA fan

    Sorry Ives but your wrong about CUSA picking Salgado. CUSA will go after a DF. Soares or a DF from Akron.

    (SBI-Say you disagree because saying I’m wrong about something that hasn’t happened yet is a bit silly, unless you happen to be the head coach Chivas USA hasn’t hired yet. I can’t see them picking Soares so high. That would be pretty shocking given the GA players available.)


  • MSnats

    So, o/t but apparently Nilmar is out for a month or more with a knee injury. More pt for Jozy?


  • Sir Knox

    Hi Ives! and all you soccer fans!
    NYRB could also really use Kofie Sarkodie at right back since Albright is going to need a backup this season.
    But I also don’t see them being very interested in the draft at all. The draft is exciting to me but they seem to be looking for experienced talent elsewhere.
    Does that sound like Soler and Backe to you?
    On the Striker option, do you think that Justin Meram could beat Agudelo and Chinn for the striker on the bench position?
    ?s are open to everyone of course.


  • BC

    With Saborio, Espindola, Paulo Jr., Alvarez, and Campos, RSL has the attackers. Russell got exposed as being too slow to play on the wings now. Need a back, preferably left, badly to eventually replace Wingert since he’s almost 30.


  • Eugene

    Regarding NY Ives, what is the latest on Kassel? Is it definite that he’s being signed as a homegrown player, once the details are worked out? Because he’s disappeared from the draft discussion.

    I can’t see NY signing a striker given that they have 6 — Henry, Rogers, Agudelo, Chinn, Ibrahim and Chirgadze. Speaking of which, what is the status on Chirgadze, are we going to see this guy play? NY definitely needs an attacking mid (so Farfan sounds like a good shot), but outside of that spot, I see the biggest needs in defense.


  • Chi-town Hammer

    Even Sega will agree that he wasn’t his former self when he came back from Cyprus. You would be too if you were playing the second half of the season with a detached ligament on your right toe. I can say Sega will be focusing his efforts to come back 100% healthy in 2011.

    With Conde, Collins John and McBride out of the picture I will pretty much say the atmosphere in the locker room will be much more positive.

    The big issue with me is will DLC finally adapt to the league or will he still try to implement his style of “soccer”. Also, will the team finally trust him.


  • Ned Smitty

    Ives, I like who you have Seattle taking, they could use someone to distribute the ball better. Does AMPAIPITAKWON have a nickname? I don’t want to have to learn to spell that. Personally though, I’m hoping for a keeper and pray they can get MacMath. I’ve read they’re up against the salary cap so a GenAdidas player would be a bonus.


  • Richard

    With Lindpere, Richards, Tchani, and Marquez in the midfield, would the addition of an attacking midfielder push Marquez to center back?
    Mendes has proven he deserves to keep that starting spot…
    I don’t see us going to a one forward setup either…
    But all those things possible because we pretty much need a true attacking midfielder.


  • Duck

    Fair point about Cruz. I believe he was the last GA player taken in the draft, which to me shows that other coaches didn’t rate him highly even though his contract was free. You can argue that maybe he didn’t fit a need, but one would figure that in the 40 picks before him, someone might want a right mid with potential and U-## team experience. ‘Unearthed’ was probably the wrong word to use. ‘Recognized’ or ‘appreciated’ might be better.


  • fischy

    On learning to spell the guy’s name — you’re off to a bad start. It’s Anthony….Ampaipitakwong. There’s a “g” at the end.


  • Second City

    Appreciate the fine-tooth comb approach to my response.

    If no recollection to an exact location of an obscure club was all that you found, I’m flattered by the googlian effort.

    Since we’re going for relevance to the topic, the real question is: did I misspell anywords, too?


  • Hincha Tim


    I agree (as I said) that RSL’s first need is an outside back (left sided). On the right RSL has Tony Beltran, who at 23 years old, has really come on and played very well last year, and has Russell as insurance. Wingert is serviceable, but his pace and his crossing ability are lacking which puts RSL at a disadvantage moving forward for width as it plays its diamond 4-4-2. If there is a good attacking left back in the draft, I think RSL goes for that (any ideas Ives? could Nanchoff play LB?) (One intriguing scenario that played out last year was when Will Johnson played (very well) at left back for a game. I think he’d make a fantastic LB if he were so inclined. I do think if a forward of Meram’s quality was still available and no good LB options were there that RSL would go in that direction.


  • Second City

    I think losing McBride, Brown & Thorrington are huge blows to the lockerroom, to be honest.

    With that leadership absent, it’ll be more important for DLC to actually show some leadership.

    Speaking the language could be a start.


  • Jacob

    I think Valentin is overrated. He was Akron’s most skilled defender this year, but his inconsistency killed the team at times. He had some horrible games. Especially the OSU game. Barson was our rock in the back.


  • Luigi39

    Don’t count Meram as automatically going into the MLS yet….word on the street is he’s got offers in EU and the Middle East he’s contemplating. Hope the MLS signs him before we loose another exciting player. Would love to see him in KC!


  • Metro-211-7

    This year (2010), in college soccer, the Louisville Cardinals had an incredible season! I just did not have the chance to watch many of their games.

    I was wondering if anyone could tell me how they lined up tactically. I do know that these were the 11 most used players (30-Andre Boudreaux GK, 17-Brock Granger, 12-Chase Rodgers, 23-J.T. Murray, 3-Paolo DelPiccolo, 24-Austin Berry, 14-Nick DeLeon, 2-Charlie Campbell, 9-Colin Rolfe, 19-Kenney Walker & 22-Dylan Mares), and these were the next 5 who saw significant playing time (11-Aaron Horton, 5-Andrew Farrell, 4-Ryan Smith, 10-Buck Tufty & 13-Josh Lipka).

    Thanks in advance.


  • galloway84

    Second City, valid points in terms of players that you mentioned. Johnson looks like the real deal behind the net, Watson-Siriboe looks like a nice fit at the center back position and still is learning, Segares will rebound from his 2010 stint from the Fire, Kinney before he got injured showed a lot of signs that he is a solid defender, Pappa and Nyarko seem like nice combo at outside mid and you are right about Logan Pause. Pause is too slow and small to be a holding midfielder that panics while dribbling the ball and opposing player puts pressure on him. Pause as team MVP was a joke; I prefer Husidic at that spot. I like Ristic’s versatility to play any position from defender to midfielder. I like Soares to compete with Corey Gibbs (a player with injury issues). They need strikers and a center midfielder that can create plays; Corben Bone at this point seems like a project due to his raw skills. Castillo needs to get into playing shape because it is either all or nothing for him 2011.


  • Jason

    I just have to say that i am shocked at how many Akronites are here on SBI! I thought i was the only one! Granted I think that makes, what, 4 of us, but I’m still surprised.

    That said, I’m surprised about how far up the board Amapai is going, he didn’t seem to be that heralded and it seemed like he was overshadowed all year by Nagbe, Sarkodie, et al.


  • Big Chil

    Aw, sweet! A new mock draft! Now I’m gonna go up to the top and read it. Happy New Year, all.


  • Colin

    The LA Galaxy are gonna draft AJ Soares and then sign AJ Hawk from the GB Packers and AJ Burnett from the NY Yankees.

    Sickest backline ever:

    AJ – AJ – AJ – AJ – Frankie Hejduk (his new nickname will be AJ).


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