By IVES GALARCEP
INDIANAPOLIS– The 2013 MLS Draft is a day away and teams all over the league are working the phones to try and secure the right trade to potentially move up or down the draft order in search of the right player to boost their roster.
Rumors are flying about nearly every pick at the top of the first round, with only Chivas USA’s selection of Carlos Alvarez with the No. 2 pick the only seeming sure thing we can expect on Thursday.
Toronto FC kicked off proceedings on Wednesday by trading the No. 1 overall pick to the New England Revolution for the No. 4 overall pick and allocation money.
This year’s draft lacks some of the top-end talent of past year’s drafts, but what it does have is very good depth, which means teams can find roster-worthy talent well into the second round. That is the general consensus among coaches and technical directors around the league.
All the rampant trade talk makes it nearly impossible to pin down just how the 2013 MLS Draft will go, and has also made it tough to project the outcome with a mock draft. There is a very good chance that we could see multiple deals that shake up the order of the draft and the identity of the teams that will be holding the high picks in the first round.
Even with that uncertainty, it is well worth looking at where top players project, and just how teams around the league are viewing the talents in the draft.
With that in mind, here is the final SBI 2013 MLS Mock Draft (I will fill out comments for all the picks throughout the night. I just wanted to get the mock draft up after having it delayed repeatedly throughout the day by trades and other activity):
SBI 2013 MLS Mock Draft (Version 4.0)
(*-Generation adidas player, #International Player)
1. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Andrew Farrell, Louisville, Centerback
The Revs came into the draft wanting a forward, but when the top-rated forward before the Combine delivered stinkers at the Combine, New England turned their attentions to the defense. Farrell has the kind of versatility Jay Heaps loves and he can slot in at right back, which means Kevin Alston can stay at left back, which could make the Revs a formidable team defensively.
2. CHIVAS USA
Carlos Alvarez, UConn, Attacking Midfielder
The Goats probably could have traded down and still gotten their favorite player, but a technical staff with little experience in MLS wound up standing pat. They won’t mind after landing a skilled playmaker in Alvarez who really is the dream player for them. An LA-native, son of a former Chivas Guadalajara player and a midfielder who could excel in MLS.
3. TORONTO FC
Walker Zimmerman, Furman, Centerback
The Colorado Rapids are desperate to land Zimmerman and Toronto FC won’t mind dealing this pick for even more allocation money and/or draft picks. Zimmerman is a quality young prospect, a U.S. Under-20 centerback with imposing size and quality in the air. TFC don’t need a centerback badly, and not a young one after signing Gale Agbossoumonde, but they’d be crazy to use these two picks and let Zimmerman fall when Colorado is so eager to move up to draft him.
4. TORONTO FC
Kyle Bekker, Boston College, Midfielder
The best player at the MLS Combine, Bekker combines sharp touches, good vision and an ability to read the game and move well to put himself in good spots. There are some questions about his athleticism and ability to cover ground, but he is easily one of the best pure soccer players in the draft and the ideal pick as a standout young Canadian.
5. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
Kekuta Manneh, Austin Aztex/FC Solar, Forward
The Whitecaps lost Dane Richards to a free transfer in the off-season and could replace him with a younger speedster in Manneh, who could play as a right winger or a second striker. He is only 18, but has loads of potential and could form a killer combination with Darren Mattocks.
6. COLORADO RAPIDS
Deshorn Brown, Central Florida, Forward
The Rapids parted ways with Omar Cummings this off-season, and just might find the next Cummings in fellow Jamaican Brown, a speedster with size who is also a Generation adidas player. That is assuming they keep this pick. There is a very good chance they could deal this pick to move up to the No. 3 spot and select Walker Zimmerman. If that happens, TFC could go for Brown as well.
7. FC DALLAS
Mikey Lopez, North Carolina, Central Midfielder
We all know about FC Dallas’ penchant for drafting senior defenders, and they could use some defensive depth, but passing on a talented young central midfielder like Lopez could be too good to pass up. Lopez is not an attacking midfielder, nor is he a destroyer defensive midfielder. He can play a deep-lying distributor role and could develop into a good complement to David Ferreira.
8. MONTREAL IMPACT
Jason Johnson, VCU, Forward
If the Impact just look at his performance at the MLS Combine, they will never take Johnson, but if their scouting system saw Johnson in college, they will know they are getting a great value at this spot. Johnson boasts a dangerous size-strength-speed combination and while he was clearly not in shape at the Combine, he could wind up leading all rookies in scoring in 2013.
9. COLUMBUS CREW
Eric Zavaleta, Indiana, Forward/Centerback
The Crew could use some centerback depth and Zavaleta showed at the Combine that he is, in fact, a quality option in central defense. The young Generation adidas signing was a standout at forward for Indiana last season, but his size, technical ability and strength in the air make him well-suited for successful career as a centerback. If the Crew decided to focus on their attack, they could go for speedy forward Erik Hurtado
10. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
John Stertzer, Maryland, Central Midfielder
The Whitecaps would have loved to select Kyle Bekker, but they land an equally impressive central midfielder in Stertzer, who could wind up fitting well into Vancouver’s system. A tall box-to-box midfielder who can score goals as well as set them up, Stertzer has the make-up to play minutes right away. The Whitecaps could also be tempted to grab Emery Welshman here, but with Manneh already in the fold, Vancouver can turn its attention to midfield.
11. COLORADO RAPIDS (TRADE)
Tommy Muller, Georgetown, Centerback
If the Rapids really don’t succeed in their quest to land Walker Zimmerman, they could do a lot worse than select Muller, who impressed both during the college season and at the Combine. He may not be the biggest centerback, but Muller is a very good athlete, reads the game extremely well and has good speed to clean up messes.
12. REAL SALT LAKE
Ryan Finley, Notre Dame, Forward
A pure finisher who makes well-timed runs and puts away chances, Finley didn’t have the best Combine but still showed the signs that made him arguably the best forward in college soccer.
13. HOUSTON DYNAMO
Erik Hurtado, Santa Clara, Forward
No forward at the Combine was more impressive than Hurtado, who combined speed with relentless defensive work and quality crosses to pose problems all over the field. Best-suited to play as a wide forward in a 4-3-3, he could fit in perfectly to what the Dynamo like to do. Houston would be lucky to have Hurtado fall this far, but the truth is Hurtado could go as high as 8 or 9.
14. SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Blake Smith, New Mexico, Left Midfielder
He didn’t have a good MLS Combine, but scouts who watched him during the college season are fully aware that he is the best winger in the draft. He is a pure left winger who can cross the ball very well, can cover ground with some good speed and he is willing to put in the tough work pressuring the ball that would make him perfect for Sporting KC’s system.
15. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Dylan Tucker-Gangnes, Washington, Centerback
The Earthquakes need some depth at centerback after losing Ike Opara and Tucker-Gangnes is a big defender who can handle himself well in space for his size. A perfect understudy for Victor Bernardez, Tucker-Gangnes might not be ready to start right away, but he should be ready for minutes in 2013.
16. SEATTLE SOUNDERS
Emery Welshman, Oregon State, Forward
With Fredy Montero heading to Colombia, the Sounders need some help at forward (along with help at centerback). Enter Welshman, a speedy Canadian forward who showed enough at the Combine to merit a team using an international slot on. He can finish, pass the ball well and pressure defensively. The real question is whether he will actually last this long or go as high as No. 10.
17. D.C. UNITED
Ashton Bennett, Coastal Carolina, Forward
D.C. United can use a left back, but with Chris Korb and Daniel Woolard as options you can see D.C. looking to add a forward. Bennett is a fast forward who makes well-timed runs, though his poor finishing at the MLS Combine probably hurt his stock.
18. MONTREAL IMPACT
Kory Kindle, CSU-Bakersfield, Left Back
The Impact could use a left back and Kindle is arguably the best one in the draft. He is a speedster who can cross well, but also handle the defensive duties of the position.
19. LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Dillon Powers, Notre Dame, Central Midfielder
It’s tough to believe that Powers would slide this far, and it wouldn’t shock me at all if he were a Top 10 pick, but in this mock draft he slides to the Galaxy, which can definitely find a place for him in the midfield rotation. He is a box-to-box midfielder who can deliver the incisive pass, but his penchant for turnovers is something Bruce Arena can clean up. Powers would be a steal with the last pick of the first round.
20. FC DALLAS
Eric Schoenle, West Virginia, Centerback
The Hoops were hoping to find some central midfield depth and centerback depth and accomplish both with Schoenle, who could wind up developing into a starting-caliber centerback.
21. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Taylor Kemp, Maryland, Left Back
The Revs came into the draft looking for fullback depth and they sure got it in Farrell and Kemp, the two players who some consider the best left back and right back in the draft. Kemp’s defensive qualities aren’t as strong as some other left backs in the draft, but he is a real threat getting forward and a year ago he was a Generation adidas prospect before an injury-hit senior season.
22. NEW YORK RED BULLS
Ian Christianson, Georgetown, Defensive Midfielder
The Red Bulls need some central midfield depth and being able to secure arguably the best pure defensive midfielder in the draft in the second round is a big score for them. Christianson can break up attacks, but is also a good passer from deep in midfield and should help provide some cover for workhorse Dax McCarty.
23. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Kofi Opare, Michigan, Centerback
Defensive wins championships and the Revs do the complete revamping by grabbing Opare, a big pure centerback who gives the team some needed depth in central defense.
24. LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Will Bates, Virginia, Forward
The Galaxy with another steal, landing Bates, who endured a poor Combine caused in some part by him being played out of position. He showed what he could do on the Combine’s final day, so he still might wind up being a first-rounder, but if he slips into the second round it’s tough to see the Galaxy passing on him. He is good enough to make the Galaxy roster and contribute as a rookie.
25. COLORADO RAPIDS
Drew Beckie, Denver, Centerback/Left Back
Not many players boosted their stock more than Beckie, who showed an ability to play both left back and centerback well. He might not go this early, but several teams were impressed by him and saw him as someone worth spending a pick on.
26. PHILADELPHIA UNION
Greg Cochrane, Louisville, Left Back/Left Midfielder
The Union are in dire need of left back and left wing help and find a versatile player they are very familiar with in Cochrane, who has played for Union youth affiliate Reading United. A speedy left who can cross the ball well, Cochrane should help provide some cover on the left flank. The Union could also grab Jimmy Nealis here.
27. MONTREAL IMPACT
Donnie Smith, Charlotte, Left Midfielder
The Impact will find some good value in Smith, a fast left winger who didn’t necessarily wow at the Combine, but showed enough flashes to merit a look in the second round.
28. COLUMBUS CREW
Jimmy Nealis, Georgetown, Left Back
It might be wishful thinking for the Crew to have Nealis slip this far, but after a largely invisible Combine, Nealis just might wind up slipping this far. If he does, he just might wind up starting for the Crew if he can show the form he did with Georgetown during the NCAA Tournament.
29. PHILADELPHIA UNION
Paolo DelPiccolo, Louisville, Defensive Midfielder
He skipped the MLS Combine to go on trial with Eintracht Frankfurt, but scouts who follow the college game know he is one of the best defensive midfielders in the nation. The Union will look to grab some value here, especially with Brian Carroll coming to the tail end of his career.
30. CHICAGO FIRE (TRADE)
Chris Thomas, Elon, Forward
The Fire traded out of the first round and still find a promising forward prospect in Thomas. They could be tempted to add a winger, like Marc Cintron, but Thomas showed at the Combine he is worth a longer look.
31. REAL SALT LAKE
Machael David, UCSB, Defensive Midfielder
32. MONTREAL IMPACT
Marc Cintron, Providence, Right Midfielder
33. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Jose Gomez, Creighton, Attacking Midfielder
34. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Uwem Etuk, West Virginia, Left Midfielder
35. SEATTLE SOUNDERS
Jordan Gafa, North Carolina, Right Back
36- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
James Belshaw, Duke, Goalkeeper
37. HOUSTON DYNAMO
Yazid Atouba, Cameron, Left Midfielder
38. LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Joe Franco, Cal-State Northridge, Right Back