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SBI MLS Draft Big Board (Version 2.0)

Tony Tchani (

The NCAA College Cup was supposed to provide a showcase for some of the best young talent in the nation, including several players considered good bets to be MLS First-Round draft picks next month.

It wasn't quite the showcase most expected, but some players definitely took advantage of the stage. Virginia midfielder Tony Tchani (pictured) and Wake Forest midfielder Austin Da Luz were two of those players. Tchani didn't dominate, but he showed strength, poise and maturity that left little doubt that he can make the move to the pro level right now. Da Luz stood out among Wake Forest's star-studded lineup, playing himself into a lock first-round spot as he heads into next month's MLS Combine.

Our second installment of the MLS Draft Big Board has some changes, though not too many drastic ones. We have increased the size of the board from 25 to 30 and will settle on a Top 32 when version 3.0 comes out just before Christmas. If you are wondering when MLS Mock Drafts will start to show up on SBI, you can expect the first one to hit in early January, before the MLS Combine (which SBI will be covering in full force).

Now, onto this week's installment of the SBI MLS Draft Big Board:

SBI 2010 MLS Draft Big Board


1. IKE OPARA*, Wake Forest, D

A prototypical central defender with an impressive combination of speed and size. Woul have been a Top Three pick in 2009 draft, is a lock to be top two pick, assuming he signs which MLS, which most folks believe he will. Didn't have the best College Cup, but scouts still love him and he's a lock Top Two pick if he comes out.

2. TONY TCHANI*, Virginia, M

Didn't dominate the College Cup, but still did more than enough to move up the Big Board. His strength on the ball was impressive, as was his ability to cover ground. Tchani's season started slowly due to injuries, but no player has boosted their stock more in the past month than Tchani. A 6-foot-4 playmaker who combines strength, a deft passing touch and goal-scoring ability, Tchani is at the top of some team's draft boards.

3. CORBEN BONE*, Wake Forest, M/F

Wasn't the impact player some expected in the College Cup, but he did show flashes of the attacking qualities that have him so highly-rated. The most dangerous attacking player in the draft, Bone is a dynamic playmaker with great vision and a terrific motor. Has played predominantly on the wing for Wake Forest, but he's more likely a central midfielder on the pro level.

4. TEAL BUNBURY*, Akron, F

Didn't have the College Cup Tournament you would have expected from a star forward, and with Caleb Porter returning to Akron you have to wonder whether Bunbury will leave school or not. MLS is chasing this sophomore hard, and with good reason. He's got the size-speed (6-foot-2) combo at forward that clubs love, and maybe most technically gifted striker in the class. A guaranteed high pick if he comes out, could potentially be the No. 1 overall pick.

5. DANNY MWANGA*, Oregon State, F

Possesses similar size-speed combination to Bunbury, and regarded by some as the more athletic prospect. Produced 14 goals this season. MLS is in hot pursuit and signs are pointing to a deal being reached, though he does have options in Europe.

6. TONI STAHL,  UConn, M

Strong, smart and technically sound, Stahl is widely-regarded as the best defensive midfielder in the draft and potentially someone who can step in and start in year one like Sam Cronin did for Toronto FC. He has signed a deal with MLS, which will only increase his value.

7. ANDREW WIEDEMAN*, California, F

A productive goal scorer in the mold of Taylor Twellman, Wiedeman is considered polished enough to play minutes in MLS now and could be seen as a year-one contributor at forward.


The nation's best freshman is also one of the players whose stock has increased the most in recent weeks. He's still just 18, and could stay in school since he's just a freshman, but MLS teams are already drooling over his box-to-box midfielder tools and upside.

9. DILLY DUKA*,  Rutgers, M

Regarded by many as the most impressive of the U.S. Under-20 World Cup participants, Duka boasts good skill, touch and a surprising bite for his small size. The questions that plague him surround his upside, and just what is his ceiling.

10. AUSTIN DA LUZ, Wake Forest, M

Already a highly-regarded prospect, Da Luz boosted his stock more than any other player at the College Cup. His vision, touch and ability to work the left flank had scouts impressed. Should challenge Andre Akpan as second senior taken after Stahl.

11. LUIS GIL*, U.S. Under-17, M

One of the more enticing long-term prospects in the pool. Gil is just 16, but he's a bundle of skill who could blossom into a star if he's groomed properly. The question is where in the draft do you take a young talent who is a few years away from contributing? He has been approached with a considerable offer by MLS but has yet to sign.

12. ANDRE AKPAN, Harvard, F

An experienced and polished forward who has been linked with moves to MLS for years, Akpan could be the victim of a slide in the draft if MLS succeeds in signing all the Generation adidas targets it has in mind. That won't stop Akpan from being a first round pick, or from potentially being this class' Chris Pontius.

13. JACK McINERNEY*,  U.S. Under-17, F

While Dilly Duka's stock jumped after the Under-20 World Cup, McInerney's dropped. That said, he's still an exciting prospect with a nose for goal and good touch and moves. If he signs a Generation adidas deal then it will be interesting to see who takes a chance on him given the fact that he isn't going to help right away. There are other more experienced players on the board who could go higher if teams are looking for help right away, but McInerney is still a quality prospect some teams will look to pounce on early, if he accepts the sizeable Generation adidas contract he has been offered.

14. OFORI SARKODIE, Indiana, D

The second-best defender available, Sarkodie is a left back prospect who should garner serious attention on draft day. He has been on  MLS radars for years and is a safe bet to be a first-round pick.


Injuries have plagued Nakazaway throughout his UCLA career, but the former U.S. youth international put together a solid senior season that catapulted him up the rankings. There are still concerns about his health, but he will have a chance to ease some of those concerns at the MLS Combine.

16. ZACH SCHILAWSKI,  Wake Forest, F

Showed some good speed and movement in the College Cup, but he didn't finish chances and lost some ground to teammate Da Luz.


18. SEAN JOHNSON*, Central Florida, GK


20. NELSON BECERRA, St. John’s, M



23. RONNIE BOUEMBOUE, North Carolina State, F

24. PHIL EDGINGTON, Louisville, D

25. JOVAN BUBOJNA, Illinois-Chicago, GK 

26. ALAN SANCHEZ, North Carolina State, M/F

27. NICK CARDENAS, San Diego State, D

28. ZACH LOYD, North Carolina, M

29. BRIGHT DIKE, Notre Dame, F

30. BROOKS HAGGARTY, North Carolina, GK


What do you think of the list? Which players impressed you the most at College Cup? Who are you hoping your team winds up taking in the first round next month? Would you like to see an SBI MLS Mock Draft sooner rather than later?

Share your thoughts  on The Big Board below.


  1. how do you rate IKE OPARA #1 thats the biggest joke i ever seen didnt you see this kid play he has no feet what so ever lol thats not a world class player ivyes ur really funny did u see his lasted game it was because of him they losted, when he could of kicked the ball off of ownby feet, but he uses his shoulder like that will ever do anything, he would have fouled him in the box, just like when he played with the u20’s

  2. why do ives rate duka so low when he already knows that duka is the best skilled player for the superdraft, you were there at the national team practices when duka showed everyone why he should be wherein the number 10, and what other player in the draft made another euro national team squad, this player must be amazing he could be first pick in this draft

  3. Ives, you are right about Austin da Luz. Most underrated player in the country. He has been fantastic at Wake ran the show all season long but fails to get recognized. College Cup was just a glimpse, shame the country didnt get to see him more. Purest soccer player in the country!

  4. Not for nothing, but Akpan is finishing his degree early, so that makes him free to join any team immediately, not that this will influence his draft position.

  5. While it is great that the college game is developing some decent prospects it is sad to see that most of these guys are 22 years old. In soccer term they are about 4 years behind where they should be. Of course its better than nothing but it could be allot better.

    I imagine none of the 22 year olds have spent time in the USSF Development Academies as it started less than 4 years ago. The future is brighter for US prospects.

  6. GOD bless SBI for such detailed coverage of this. im already excited for the next season. hopefully nowack knows what he’s doin and builds a solid team

  7. also they have already signed Calif and Thomas at CB so do you use your #1 pick to take Opara or an offensive threat like Tchani, Bone or Teal?

  8. Bunbury is a dual citizen, but has played at the junior levels for Canada. His dad, Alex, is one of the best ever strikers to play for the Canadian national team. If he goes into the draft, look for TFC to try and trade its way back into the first round. A lot of buzz already about bringing another Canadian to Toronto.

  9. Any thoughts as to why Kentucky’s Barry Rice was not invited to the Combine?

    (SBI-I reached out to the Kentucky coach to see if there was more to that story but he had no real explanation. In other words Rice isn’t injured and did not turn down an invite, he just wasn’t invited.That’s pretty surprising considering the career he had.)

  10. Ives what do you think about the two seniors coming out of UCSB. I know that David Walker was on a top Senior prospect list. Also, Martin Hedevag helped anchor a team that earned 16 shutouts including shutting out Indiana and USD. He’s also a utility player if you will and can play up top as a target forward if needed.

  11. Because he wasn’t really out of their Academy. He only officially signed up with the Red Bulls after he’d already started with Rutgers. The idea of the Academy rule is to discover and develop prospects, Bringing is guys who are already with Division I programs is not what MLS had in mind.

  12. Replying to Ives — that kind of thinking is why Nick Rimando has been underestimated and undervalued repeatedly, including by his own teams, until he found RSL.

    (SBI- Restrepo is actually a redshirt junior, so that’s probably why he’s not being mentioned. He’s actually pretty well-regarded so he’s one to watch in 2011, assuming he signs with MLS.)

  13. I saw Dike play in person. The kid is a beast physically, he has the size of a NFL player. If he develops technically he will be a handful to cover at Forward.

  14. Even though early mock drafts are somewhat silly in general, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love to see them and think about who will pick who. As soon as you want to release one Ives I’d enjoy it!

  15. If you’re Philly and in a perfect world can pick any guy on the list above- who do you choose. Big CB emulating the success LA has had or go offensive threat. I think I go offensive threat with either Teal or Mwanga.

  16. Opara def. had a couple bad moments in the World Cup but I think a couple of those times he had to cover for other’s mistakes (like the 17 yr old next to him and the outside backs). I actually thought he showed glimpses of rare talent- the guy is huge, can be an offensive threat and is pretty good at playing the ball out of the back which is a rare ability from big CBs

  17. i know this question’s been answered, but i forget the reasoning… why don’t the red bulls have the rights to duka, a player out of their academy?

  18. I second that. Would like to see which of these names are US eligible if you know it Ives.

    Not sure I would use a pick of McInerney. I only saw him play at the WC, but didnt see much upside. Would rather take one of the strikers in the draft and hope to find the next Damani Ralph.

  19. I only saw a few players from the new U20’s Gil, Mac, Duk? Are the others mostly foreign, too old, or overlooked? I’m guessing too old.

  20. I usually agree with you by Opara was woeful at the World Championships and woeful (due to what seemed like over confidence/arrogance) against UVA. Maybe after a good wake-up call in the pros he may develope into a good player, but he won’t contribute on day 1. Tchani is what you said he is, but his vision, decision making, and speed of play were horrible in the College Cup. All of those factors are what he needs to be successful in the MLS. I just don’t see these two being the sure things everyone says they are.

  21. Look at the contributions that draftees made last year to MLS. Now they are saying this is a deep and talented class this year too.

    I realize a lot of the Euro-lovers/MLS haters will hate to admit this and maybe they will claim MLS still stinks…. but, MLS is getting better, quickly.

  22. Interesting that Restrepo is not on this list. I’d think the probably seriously boosted his prospects with a clutch performance during the PKs in the NCAA final.

    (SBI-When it comes to goalkeepers, I get the sense that teams like upside, like guys with serious size and/or athleticism. This is why the likes of Johnson and Haggarty are rated higher than the likes of Perk and Restrepo by some scouts (though Restrepo’s stock has to be high after this year). As it turns out, Restrepo is a redshirt junior so he should be back in 2010, unless he heads to Europe.)

  23. Tony Tchani 6’4″ midfielder with a deft passing touch.. Is this wave of future of US soccer. Bigger stronger players with skills. Very typical of US sports, bigger faster and more skilled.

  24. Only three seniors in your Top 13. I’d say MLS has a LOT of work to do to get underlcassmen and HS kids signed or you’re gonna lose a lot of talent off your draft board.

    (SBI-I believe I said it in the original Big Board, but not every one of the players listed will wind up signing, which will wind up effecting the final big board before the draft. Last year you had players like Opara and Akpan who some thought would come out. This year I’m sure some of these players will either stay in school or will be left out due to MLS having enough Generation adidas players.)

  25. Good stuff. I’m really trying to pay more attention to MLS in general, good to find out more background on these guys before they’re drafted.

  26. Ives, Thanks for the good work and congrats on the BIG AWARD!! Meanwhile, may I suggest listing the prior position (in brackets) for us to be able to see who moved up/down and how much in future Big Board posts?

  27. Ives, awesome stuff, but it would be helpful if you put each player’s previous rank in parentheses or something so we can get an idea for the movement on it. Thanks a ton.

  28. Is this related to the teams who have those draft positions, or just the 30 “best available”?

    (SBI-Sean, a Big Board is a ranking of the prospects, if it pertained to draft positions it would be a mock draft. I think you’re still hungover from Seattle. LOL)


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