By IVES GALARCEP
The 2013 Generation adidas class moved a step closer toward completion on Friday with the addition of another top college star.
Indiana University sophomore standout Eriq Zavaleta has signed a Generation adidas deal and will be available in the 2013 MLS Draft, sources confirmed to SBI on Friday. Ron Waxman, Zavaleta’s agent, confirmed the signing on Saturday morning.
Zavaleta, 20, helped lead Indiana to the 2012 NCAA title, scoring 18 goals during his sophomore season. A centerback who moves to forward before the 2012 season, Zavaleta projects as a central defender on the pro level and projects as a Top 10 pick in the 2013 MLS Draft.
The addition of Zavaleta brings the Generation adidas class to five players, at least officially. Andrew Farrell (Louisville), Mikey Lopez (North Carolina), Walker Zimmerman (Furman) and Jason Johnson (VCU) were the first four GA signings announced by MLS earlier in the week.
The Generation adidas class is expected to finish up with a total of seven players, with teenage forward Kekuta Manneh and Central Florida forward Deshorn Brown also expected to be a part of the class. Sources tell SBI that Manneh’s signing has yet to be announced due to MLS sorting out potential issues of training compensation with Manneh’s former youth club in Africa (Manneh is a native of Gambia).
A former U.S. Under-17 national team player, and former member of the U.S. Under-20 pool, Zavaleta is a 6-foot-1 centerback with impressive athletic ability and strength in the air. While he did impress as a forward for Indiana in 2012, he is still expected to be used as a central defender on the pro level.
Zavaleta’s departure is a big blow for Indiana, which would have headed into the 2013 college season as the consensus No. 1 team in the nation if their leading scorer had stayed in school. The Hoosiers will still be one of the top teams in the nation, boasting the best midfield in the country. The transfer of Louisville standout Dylan Mares, coupled with the return of midfield aces Nikita Kotlov and A.J. Corrado, should keep the Hoosiers in the mix for another national championship.
What do you think of Zavaleta signing a GA deal? See him being a Top Five pick? Think he could be a factor as a forward on the next level, or agree that centerback will ultimately be his best position?
Share your thoughts below.