With the flurry of trades going on around Major League Soccer in the two weeks since the 2012 season ended, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the 2013 MLS Draft is just five weeks away.
Teams have already commenced improving their rosters via trades, signings and the recent Re-Entry Draft. All this maneuvering will have made doing a reasonable MLS Mock Draft all but impossible, but as we move beyond the bulk of the rush of transactions, we can now start looking at team needs and just how teams will handle the MLS Draft.
As we have done for the past five years, SBI will be providing our own MLS Mock Draft, which we will adjust in the coming weeks ahead of the MLS Combine, and finally on the day before the actual MLS Draft takes place on January 17th.
While it is impossible to project what 19 teams will do on draft what, we will try to do without mock drafts is project selections based on team needs as well as the general consensus of player valuations we have gathered based on conversations with MLS coaches, general managers and scouts, and college coaches and players, as well as our own observations over the course of the 2012 college season.
With all that in mind, here is the first version of the SBI 2013 MLS Mock Draft (I will update with full breakdowns of each selection very soon, but for now you can feel fre to start discussing our projections):
SBI 2013 MLS Mock Draft (Version 1.0)
(*-Generation adidas player, #International Player)
(NOTE– The initial Mock draft had some picks out of place, 5-6 and 16-17. I adjusted the draft order, and made some selection adjustments based on those changes.)
1- TORONTO FC
*Andrew Farrell, Louisville, Centerback
Best player in the draft. Scouts believe he can step in and start from day one. Athletic and technically-skilled centerback. TFC is entertaining offers for the top pick, and could be tempted to deal this pick and grab Walker Zimmerman at No. 3. With Danny Califf selected in the Re-Entry Draft, there might be less need to take two centerbacks with their high draft picks.
2- CHIVAS USA
*Mikey Lopez, North Carolina, Central Midfielder
The Goats are in a state of flux and it remains unclear just how prepared they are to handle the draft. If we are to believe Chivas USA’s new head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, the Goats want to emphasize and establish a Mexican influence on their roster. Lopez is both a top three talent, and a Mexican-American. Most teams would probably take Walker Zimmerman first, but Lopez fits Chivas USA’s profile better.
3- TORONTO FC
*Walker Zimmerman, Furman, Central Defender
If TFC holds onto the top pick, and keeps this selection, this will have an interesting decision to make. Zimmerman is the No. 2-rated talent in this draft, and if he’s available here then Paul Mariner has to seriously consider taking Zimmerman and Farrell. Unless Mariner has has his eye on a forward like J.J. Johnson, TFC
4- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
*J.J. Johnson, VCU, Forward
The Revs could are stacked in midfield, and there aren’t any defenders worth taking at this point, so the best forward on the board makes the most sense. Johnson is a powerful striker who has drawn comparisons to C.J. Sapong. He might be the most pro-ready attacking player in the draft pool. Even with Chad Barrett selected by the Revs in the Re-Entry Draft, the Revs would still be hard-pressed to pass on him.
5- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
Dillon Powers, Notre Dame, Central Midfielder
The departure of John Thorrington and need for central midfield depth makes Powers a sensible selection for the Whitecaps. He isn’t a pure ball winner, but could play in a deep-lying role, where his passing could be a real weapon.
6- COLORADO RAPIDS
*#DeShorn Brown, Central Florida, Forward (Jamaica)
The Rapids acquisition of Edson Buddle might make it easier for the Rapids to go in another direction with this pick, but adding a speed option up top like Brown makes sense for what Oscar Pareja wants to do. A 4-3-3 with Brown, Buddle and Omar Cummings could be pretty scary. If you’re looking for someone similar to Darren Mattocks in this draft, Brown is that player.
7- FC DALLAS
*#Kekuta Manneh, FC Solar, Forward (Gambia)
After parting ways with some young forwards, Dallas has room for a prospect like Manneh, a Texas-based player they are surely familiar with. He boasts impressive pace and an ability to score with both feet. He’s also young, and has considerable upside, with some scouts believing he could be the star of this draft.
8- MONTREAL IMPACT
Blake Smith, New Mexico, Left Winger
The Impact re-signed Mapp, but his days in Montreal may be numbered, which makes Smith a smart pick-up. He is regarded as the best winger in the draft, and as a pure left winger he won’t last on the draft board for very long.
9- COLUMBUS CREW
#Ashton Bennett, Coastal Carolina, Forward (Jamaican w/Canadian Residency)
If the Crew are looking for some speed at forward, Bennett is the best on the board to provide that element. Bennett didn’t play in the strongest league, but he showed against Maryland in the NCAA Tournament that he can score against top competition.
10- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
Erik Hurtado, Santa Clara, Forward
The Whitecaps could use a playmaker like Carlos Alvarez, but sources tell SBI Vancouver might add an attacking midfielder via the international market, which would allow the Whitecaps to grab Hurtado, the best forward on the board. Vancouver did add Paulo Junior in the Re-Entry Draft, but Hurtado could be too good to pass up.
11- CHICAGO FIRE
Carlos Alvarez, UConn, Attacking Midfielder
The Fire would be pleasantly surprised to see Alvarez slip this far, which is far from a sure thing. But if the draft does play out this way, you can bet Chicago would pounce on Alvarez, who could provide an exciting playmaking option to a midfield that lacked spark in the middle last season.
12- REAL SALT LAKE
Ryan Finley, Notre Dame, Forward
RSL needs some fresh blood in the forward stable, and after dealing Fabian Espindola and losing Paulo Junior, they have room for some strikers and Finley is one of the best finishers on the board. A pure goal scorer with a nose for goal, Finley is also a good passer as a forward and could work well in RSL’s system.
13- HOUSTON DYNAMO
Will Bates, Virginia, Forward
The Dynamo can use some fresh blood at forward, and with Calen Carr set for a long recovery from a torn ACL, and Brian Ching reaching the tail end of his career, Bates could be a solid addition to Dom Kinnear’s strike forward. A classic target striker who has spent four years at Virginia honing his hold-up play, Bates is perfectly-suited for what the Dynamo like to do.
14- SPORTING KANSAS CITY
John Stertzer, Maryland Central Midfielder
You can never have too many central midfielders, and after losing Roger Espinoza and Julio Cesar, Sporting KC can help add to their depth with the inclusion of Stertzer. More of an attacking midfielder in college, Stertzer could project in a deeper role on the pro level. With a loaded schedule facing Sporting KC in 2013, adding Stertzer to the stable would give Peter Vermes plenty of options in the middle of the field.
15- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Eric Schoenle, West Virginia, Central Defender
The Earthquakes parted ways with Ike Opara, and while they did add a centerback in Ty Harden in the Re-Entry Draft, a highly-skilled centerback like Schoenle would be tough to pass up. San Jose could also consider Tommy Muller.
16- SEATTLE SOUNDERS
Tommy Muller, Georgetown, Central Defender
After dealing Jeff Parke, the Sounders can use some centerback depth and Muller could be the best senior centerback in the draft. He is strong, good on the ball and reads the game well. The Sounders could also turn to left back to fill a need, and Taylor Kemp would make sense as well.
17- D.C. UNITED
Taylor Kemp, Maryland, Left Back
D.C. United can use some defensive depth, at centerback and left back, and with Schoenle and Muller off the board, D.C. can turn to Kemp to help fill the club’s need for left back help. There are a few good left back prospects here, from Kemp to Kory Kindle to Georgetown’s Jimmy Nealis, but we’ll give the nod to Kemp.
18- MONTREAL IMPACT
Ian Christianson, Georgetown, Defensive Midfielder
The Impact could look at one of the handful of left backs available here, like Kory Kindle, Jimmy Nealis and Greg Cochrane, or Canadian midfielder Kyle Bekker, but we’ll give them Christianson, an impressive defensive midfielder who impressed scouts with his play in the NCAA Tournament.
19- LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Kory Kindle, CSU-Bakersfield, Left Back
The Galaxy could be tempted to grab a forward, but none are left that project as first-rounders. That leaves LA with a strong crop of left back options to choose from. Kindle is a speedy fullback who can provide a real attacking threat on the left flank. He might not be as solid defensively as some other left backs, but his attacking qualities make him an intriguing option for the Galaxy.