SBI MLS Season Preview: The Pre-Season Rookie Best XI (and we rank the rookie class)


The 2013 MLS Draft didn’t have as much star power as some past years, at least in the eyes of many scouts, but that doesn’t mean this year’s rookie class is necessarily weak.

A strong class of Homegrown Player signings, coupled with a solid crop of high first-round picks, has this year’s class of rookies looking like a deep group that could really blossom in years to come.

As far as the rookies who could have an impact in 2013, here is SBI’s Pre-Season MLS All-Rookie Team, along with our Top 10 rookies for the 2013 season, and Top 30 rookies based on long-term potential:



1. Gyasi Zardes, LA Galaxy

2. Andrew Farrell, New England Revolution

3. Erik Hurtado, Vancover Whitecaps

4. Kyle Bekker, Toronto FC

5. Kekuta Manneh, Vancouver Whitecaps

6. DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders

7. Carlos Alvarez, Chivas USA

8. John Stertzer, Real Salt Lake

9. Deshorn Brown, Colorado Rapids

10. Ryan Finley, Columbus Crew


1. Gyasi Zardes, LA Galaxy, F

2. Kekuta Manneh, Vancouver Whitecaps, F

3. Walker Zimmerman, FC Dallas, CB

4. Andrew Farrell, New England, RB

5. Erik Hurtado, Vancouver Whitecaps, F/RM

6. Kyle Bekker, Toronto FC, CM

7. DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders, RB

8. Mikey Lopez, Sporting KC, DM/CM

9. Eriq Zavaleta, Seattle Sounders, CB

10. Carlos Alvarez, Chivas USA, AM

11. Bryan Salazar, Houston Dynamo, F

12. DeShorn Brown, Colorado Rapids, F

13. John Stertzer, Real Salt Lake, CM

14. Carlos Salcedo, Real Salt Lake, CB

15. Dillon Powers, Colorado Rapids, DM/CM

16. Scott Caldwell, New England, CM

17. Blake Smith, Montreal Impact, LM/LB

18. Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew, DM

19. Dillon Serna, Colorado Rapids, CM

20. Santiago Castano, New York Red Bulls, GK

21. Michael Seaton, D.C. United, F

22. Steven Evans, Portland Timbers, CM

23. Armando Moreno, New York Red Bulls, F

24. Jason Johnson, Houston Dynamo, F

25. Emery Welshman, Toronto FC, F

26. Dylan Tucker-Gangnes, Portland, CB

27. Maxim Tissot, Montreal Impact, LB

28. Taylor Kemp, D.C. United, LB

29. London Woodberry, FC Dallas, RB

30. Tommy Muller, San Jose Earthquakes, CB

      • mgrich

        I could see Lopez getting some of Nagamura’s minutes also. Plus with Open Cup and Champions League games he should oppurtunity for games.


    • Sporting Ghana

      Currently Sporting has Rossell, Nagamura, Peterson Joseph, Michael Thomas and Lawrence Olum in the depth charts before Mikey Lopez. Especially with his U-20 absences I don’t predict him seeing the field anytime soon.

      I am excited about how young the central midfield and how good they may be in the future Uri(20), Mikey(20), Joseph(22), Thomas(25)


    • RAMONE

      I am a bit confused by Ives post here. He puts Tucker-Gagnes in his Best XI which is, of course, positional. Tucker-Gagnes doesn’t make either his top 10 or top 30 long term lists though….. I’ll admit ignorance about a lot of the players in the top 30 (particularly position they play), maybe none are center backs or Ives thinks DT-G has already peaked?

      I’d love to hear more details about the reason somebody would be ranked in the Bext XI yet not make a top 10 (maybe they were 11th) or a top 30 long term prospects list though.


      • Bobb

        There are certainly CBs, Walker Zimmerman for example.

        Yeah I don’t know what that’s about, aside from Gagnes being the most pro-ready but not having the high upside of a guy like Zimmerman?


      • Ives Galarcep

        I didn’t put Zimmerman on because I don’t seeing playing this year. Dallas has George John and Matt Hedges (and Ugo Ihemelu). Zimmerman will be a great one down the road, which is why I rated him so highly on the long-term prospect list, but for 2013 I don’t see him playing that much.


      • Ives Galarcep

        Pretty simple. Of the centerbacks in this year’s draft class, the only one I see getting playing time this year is Tucker-Gangnes, and I wanted to put at least one centerback on the Best XI, BUT I don’t think Tucker-Gagnes is one of the 10 best rookies this year. He was supposed to be in the Top 30. That was a mistake on my part when putting the list up (I listed Blake Smith twice and accidentally left Tucker-Gangnes off).

        If we’re talking about the future, Zimmerman and Zavaleta will probably be the best two centerbacks long-term, and I rate Muller pretty highly too (but he likely won’t play in San Jose this year barring injury).

        Now please don’t try and spin this into me not rating Tucker-Gangnes. I rated him in college, rated him higher than most going into the draft, and praised Portland for taking him. I think he could do well.


  • The Missing Centerback

    Is there a single team in MLS that even occasionally plays only 3 in the back?

    Why not define a best-XI that resembles a lineup you might actually see on the field? You still get the “honorable mention” section to highlight those attacking players that didn’t quite make the cut.

    I realize the rookie CB pool looks a bit shallow this year, but we also see this regularly happen in the weekly best-XI and end of season best-XI awards. It’s an epidemic.


    • kenji

      Who else could be added? They had to stretch as far as DTG, a late second round pick who didn’t even make the long term prospect list.


      • RAMONE

        To be fair though, many were surprised to see him drop that far, had him penciled in to be drafted higher and felt Portland got the steal pick of the draft. See my comments above about why DT-G on the list but not the rest … a dearth of rookie center backs I presume.

        All of this is still just educated guesswork. We will see in 2-4 years who the best players are and sometimes there are second round surprises, sometimes top picks fail to develop.


      • RAMONE

        “sometimes top picks fail to develop”

        See Danny Mwanga. As a Timber fan it pains me to see him go today, but he just never seemed to find his niche … same in Philly and I am rather concerned that will be the story of his professional career. I loved it that we could bring him in, local kid and all, and was bummed that we didn’t have the first pick in 2010 (Timbers didn’t get to MLS until 2011) to take him. Now I am glad that Nagbe was our first pick because his talent and quality even under Spencer’s and Wilkinson’s unworkable systems is much more obvious than Danny’s was in a Timber shirt.


    • Ives Galarcep

      I didn’t use a traditional formation because the point of the post wasn’t to build a team to take the field. It was to highlight the players we think will be the best rookies.

      As for other Best XIs not being true to position, I don’t think it really matters all that much. If the team isn’t really going to be taking the field anyway then why does it matter if positions aren’t true to form? I find this whole issue one of the most pedantic things around.

      If we’re talking say a team that’s going to play in an all-star game, then sure, if you’re going to be putting a team on the field then there’s some practical value to staying true to positions. Beyond that, I don’t see the big deal.


      • Brain Guy

        “I didn’t use a traditional formation because the point of the post wasn’t to build a team to take the field. It was to highlight the players we think will be the best rookies.”

        Then why use any formation at all? Three of your top ten (Hurtado, Brown, Finley) aren’t part of your Best XI.


  • Gordo Stretch

    ROY seems like it depends on which team is desperate enough to throw a rookie into a starting role. Most teams prefer to bring their rookies along slowly, even the very good ones.


  • dan

    Almost seems unfair that the Galaxy dominate MLS and get the best prospect this year as well ;)


  • a

    to Dan

    we get him because thats how great teams operate intead of waiting around for college to develope players(yeah right…..like they really do). we go out and to the traditional way the way the rest for the world does it. we sign guys from our acadamy. I think this is what eventualy will happen in mls. teams need to scount and find players on their own. the one exception to this for us (la) is omar and aj we hit the lottery with those guys. Omar has a bigger ceiling and he seems to be a part on the National team. But I think thats what will happen. Look MLB they do the samething only that they have acadamies in latin america. Hopefully MLS wont to that and why should they the talent is already here they just need to go out and find it. here(USA).


  • Zack

    Yedlin looked good going forward, but who knows if he can defend. The desert diamond weren’t typical games. Also, Leo Gonzales might have a hing or two to say.


  • BillyFünf

    Thank you Ives! This is essentially what most have been asking for all offseason; a sbi draft board plus homegrowns. Count me as one who is excited to see the list, especially after eliminating some of the speculation by waiting to see some preseason games. Looking forward to seeing this crop grow.


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