By IVES GALARCEP
The 2013 MLS Draft is officially just a month away, and teams all across Major League Soccer are preparing their draft boards and doing their final scouting ahead of the MLS Combine and draft.
The draft class is beginning to take shape as the Generation adidas class comes into focus. As we reported on Thursday, MLS has signed several GA targets, and are closing in on some others. As things stands, only Maryland standout Patrick Mullins has outright rejected a GA offer. Indiana star Eriq Zavaleta is looking more and more like a good bet to be offered a deal and sign one, which is why we have included him in the latest SBI MLS Mock Draft. UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake is another player who has been mentioned as a potential GA target, but he is a long-shot at this point.
On the senior player front, MLS has already signed UConn playmaker Carlos Alvarez, Notre Dame midfield standout Dillon Powers and Maryland midfield ace John Stertzer to senior contracts. Notre Dame forward Ryan Finley has also been offered a senior contract but has yet to sign.
The latest mock draft features the second round as well, and you will notice a few seniors missing from the draft who we had been projecting to be taken. Louisville midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo is heading to Germany for a trial with Eintracht Frankfurt and is expected to miss the MLS Combine. With that in mind, we haven’t included him in the two-round mock draft. Also, UCLA midfielder Ryan Hollingshead is skipping the MLS Combine and will be going on a religious mission. With Hollingshead putting his pro playing career on hold, we have also dropped him off the board.
We will be dropping one final SBI MLS Draft Big Board before the New Year, and will reveal our final pre-combine MLS Mock Draft in the days before the MLS Combine. Our final Mock Draft and Big Board will run on Jan. 16th, the day before the MLS Draft.
Now, without further ado, here is the SBI 2013 MLS Mock Draft (Version 2.0):
SBI 2013 MLS Mock Draft (Version 2.0)
(*-Generation adidas player, #International Player)
1- TORONTO FC
*Andrew Farrell, Louisville, Centerback
TFC’s recent acquisition of Gale Agbossoumonde makes it that much more likely they deal the No. 1 overall pick (or the No. 3 pick). Whether TFC keeps the pick or trades it, Farrell is a good bet to the player taken here. He is widely regarded as the best player in the draft. Scouts believe he can step in and start from day one. Athletic and technically-skilled centerback. Interest in Farrell is driving the trade market.. Trading down and securing some allocation money makes the most sense. Whatever Toronto does, the chances are very high that Farrell is the first player off the board.
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 trades the top pick, Zimmerman is the pick here. Even with the addition of veteran Dan Califf, Toronto FC would be crazy to pass on a talented Generation adidas player like ZImmerman. Now, if Toronto selects Farrell with the No. 1 pick, the club could entertain a trade to move down in the order. Teams interested in Zimmerman and Jason Johnson just might pony up something decent for a chance to move up to this spot.
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 Johnson. Another possibility could be UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake if he were to sign a GA deal, but at this point we don’t see Blake signing.
5- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
*Eriq Zavaleta, Indiana, Centerback/forward
The Whitecaps can use a talented young centerback prospect to groom as an eventual replacement for Jay DeMerit and Zavaleta has the tools to be a big-time defender. Most observers familiar with Zavaleta know him as the target forward who scored so many key goals for national champion Indiana, but the general consensus among pro scouts is that Zavaleta’s best position is central defense.
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
Dillon Powers, Notre Dame, Midfielder
The retirement of Daniel Hernandez and potential departure of Julian DeGuzman leaves Dallas short on defensive midfield/central midfield options, even with the addition of Peter Luccin. Enter Powers, a skilled two-way midfielder and Dallas native. He isn’t a Generation adidas player, which is something Dallas might want to try and land to help their salary cap situation, but Powers could be a good fit in the Dallas midfielder. Young Generation adidas forward Kekuta Manneh is another option at this pick.
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
*#Kekuta Manneh, FC Solar, Forward (Gambia)
The Crew don’t really boast a pure speed option at forward, and adding a young prospect like Manneh as a GA could be too tempting for Robert Warzycha to pass up. The 18-year-old forward 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.
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
#Ashton Bennett, Coastal Carolina, Forward (Jamaican w/Canadian Residency)
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 Bennett is the kind of speed option they don’t currently have. Bennett didn’t play in the strongest league, but he showed against Maryland in the NCAA Tournament that he can score against top competition.
13- HOUSTON DYNAMO
Ryan Finley, Notre Dame, Forward
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 Houston’s system. The Dynamo could also consider Will Bates with this pick.
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
Emery Welshman, Oregon State, Forward
The Impact could use some depth at forward and Canadian-born Welshman has the speed and technical ability to provide some good depth at the spot. Montreal could be tempted to go after one of the quality left back options on the board, but a solid forward who happens to also be Canadian is too good to pass up here. Fellow Canadian, and Boston College midfielder Kyle Bekker could be a dark-horse pick here as well.
19- LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Kory Kindle, CSU-Bakersfield, Left Back
The Galaxy could be tempted to grab a forward, but the recent signing of Gyasi Zardes to a Homegrown Player deal makes that less likely at this pick. 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. It would also re-unite Kindle with former college teammate Zardes.
20- FC DALLAS
Jimmy Nealis, Georgetown, Left Back
21- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Greg Cochrane, Louisville, Left Back
22- NEW YORK RED BULLS
Ian Christianson, Georgetown, Defensive Midfielder
23- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Dylan Tucker-Gagnes, Washington, Central Defender
24- LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Marc Cintron, Providence, Right winger
25- COLORADO RAPIDS
Will Bates, Virginia, Forward
26- PHILADELPHIA UNION
Uwem Etuk, West Virginia, Left Midfielder
27- MONTREAL IMPACT
Kyle Bekker, Boston College, Central Midfielder
28- COLUMBUS CREW
Machael David, UCSB, Defensive Midfielder
29- PHILADELPHIA UNION
John Gallagher, Penn State, Left Back
30- COLORADO RAPIDS
Anthony Arena, Wake Forest, Central Defender/Left Back
31- REAL SALT LAKE
Donnie Smith, Charlotte, Left Midfielder
32- MONTREAL IMPACT
Chris Thomas, Elon, Forward
33- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Jose Gomez, Creighton, Attacking Midfielder
34- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Devon Sandoval, New Mexico, Forward
35- SEATTLE SOUNDERS
Joe Franco, Cal-State Northridge
36- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Larry Jackson, Goalkeeper, Santa Clara
37- HOUSTON DYNAMO
Paul Wyatt, James Madison, Defensive Midfielder
38- LA GALAXY
Fernando Monge, UCLA, Central Midfielder