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What a difference one decision can make.
Danny Mwanga's decision to sign a Generation adidas contract and enter the 2010 MLS Draft served to set off a string of dominos throughout the first round of SBI's MLS Mock Draft. With Philadelphia coveting Mwanga with the No. 1 overall pick, several top players have moved down the first round.
That is music to the ears of several teams who will watch players they covet fall to them. Kansas City scores the striker it needs, D.C. United gets the top defensive midfielder it covets and the New York Red Bulls land the hometown prospect they knows so well.
Here is how the SBI 2010 MLS Mock Draft shakes out this week:
SBI 2010 MLS Mock Draft
1. Philadelphia Union- DANNY MWANGA, F, Oregon State
Ike Opara is regarded by many as the top prospect, but with Philly already boasting Danny Califf and Shavar Thomas (and the club linked to a Colombian defender), the Union will go with Mwanga, the most dangerous forward in the draft. Teal Bunbury had been believed to be the choice here, but that was before Philly pressed the league to sign Mwanga.
2. New York Red Bulls- IKE OPARA, D, Wake Forest
The Red Bulls' defense was awful at times in 2009 and doesn't boast a single shutdown defender. Enter Opara, who some regarded as good enough to be a Top Three pick in 2009. He had shaky moments in the Under-20 World Cup, but Opara is a top-notch defender who should be able to step in and start from year one.
3. San Jose Earthquakes- CORBEN BONE, M, Wake Forest
The Earthquakes under Frank Yallop are notorious for not being big fans of the draft, but if they keep this pick it will be a tough call between Tony Tchani, Teal Bunbury and Corben Bone. Having lost Darren Huckerby (and Shea Salinas), and with last year's top pick, Brad Ring, expected to return in central midfield, we see San Jose going with Bone over Bunbury.
4. Kansas City Wizards- TEAL BUNBURY, F, Akron
The Wizards will be overjoyed if this scenario plays out and the son of a former Wizard becomes the first son of an MLS player to join MLS. Alex Bunbury's career in Kansas City was brief, but former teammate Peter Vermes will be hoping Teal's career with the WIzards is longer and filled with more goals.
5. FC Dallas- TONY TCHANI, M, Virginia
The word around MLS circles is that FC Dallas is looking to package these two picks to move up (with Opara making sense as a target). Dallas has enough young players, and Generation adidas players at that, but Schellas Hyndman will be hard-pressed to pass on a talent like Tchani, who could go anywhere in the Top Five.
6. FC Dallas- ANDRE AKPAN, F, Harvard
Dallas-area fans will be happy to see the hometown product returning to Texas, but Akpan is more than just a homer pick. He's arguably the best forward in the pool, and could be this draft's Chris Pontius.
7. D.C. United- TONI STAHL, M, UConn
D.C. United lost Ben Olsen to retirement and Andrew Jacobson to the MLS Expansion draft, so landing a defensive midfielder as good as Stahl makes perfect sense. Stahl is regarded by some as the best senior in the draft and a player capable of stepping in and starting in MLS right away. D.C. could also go after California striker Andrew Wiedeman.
8. Columbus Crew- ANDREW WIEDEMAN, F, California
The Crew hasn't had the best track record of drafting forwards in the first round, but it will be tough to pass on Wiedeman after losing Alejandro Moreno to the expansion draft. Wiedeman is a quality goal-scorer and mature player who should be able to contribute immediately.
9. New England Revolution- ZACH LOYD, M, North Carolina
The Revs always do well in the draft because they take proven and mature players. Enter Loyd, a player who could step in and replace Jeff Larentowicz if he leaves this winter as expected. Loyd can play defensive midfielder, but also proved this year that he can slide into a central defense role if needed.
10. Chivas USA- LUIS GIL, M, U.S. Under-17
The Goats don't have any glaring needs, though Jonathan Bornstein's potential departure could hurt Chivas USA in the back, where the club could use some depth. Martin Vasquez can take a chance on a long-term prospect in Gil, who has the ability to potentially be the best player this draft produces. Only 16, he's technically gifted and someone who could develop into a franchise player under the right guidance. Now, if Gil doesn't sign with MLS, Chivas USA could turn to Amobi Okugo or Dilly Duka.
11. Seattle Sounders- AMOBI OKUGO, M, UCLA
The Sounders are another team that doesn't have any glaringly obvious needs, so Sigi Schmid can go with the best available player here. Okugo is a first-rate central midfield prospect who looked mature beyond his years in the NCAA Tournament. Schmid's UCLA ties have surely allowed him to have a good scouting report on Okugo, who gets the nod here ahead of Duka.
12. Columbus Crew- BLAIR GAVIN, M, Akron
Having addressed the need at forward with its earlier pick, the Crew can go for a talented product in central midfield. Gavin is skilled, young and full of potential. He might not be as MLS-ready from a physical maturity standpoint, but his upside is hard to ignore.
13. Chicago Fire- OFORI SARKODIE, D, Indiana
The Fire enter the draft with several needs as a load of departures have depleted a once-deep roster. With Gonzalo Segares leaving and Brandon Prideaux retired, fullback is a need position and Sarkodie is regarded by some as the best fullback in the draft. The Fire could also select Zach Schilawski or Duka here.
14. New York Red Bulls- DILLY DUKA, M, Rutgers
Red Bulls fans will be overjoyed if this scenario plays out and Duka lands at No. 14. Duka was a largely unknown quantity as recently as a year ago, and despite his impressive showing with the U.S. Under-20 team, there are clubs who still aren't sold on him. He's still a supremely skilled midfielder that a handful of teams could pounce on in the Top Ten, but with the Generation adidas midfield class being so deep, Duka could definitely slip to his hometown team. If Duka is taken, the Red Bulls would find a nice consolation price in Austin Da Luz.
15. Los Angeles Galaxy- AUSTIN DA LUZ, F, Wake Forest
With Eddie Lewis coming to the end of his career, and with David Beckham gone for half the season on loan, the Galaxy can use some depth in midfield. Enter Da Luz, one of the most skillful players in the draft and a player who can add depth in a playmaking role and on the left flank.
16. Real Salt Lake-JACK McINERNEY, F, U.S. Under-17
The champions head into 2010 with all its key players set to return so there's not much on the need list. Adding a 17-year-old prospect as highly-regarded as McInerney makes the most sense, assuming McInerney slides this far. RSL could use a goalkeeper, but taking one here would be a reach.
17. Philadelphia Union- KYLE NAKAZAWA, M, UCLA
The Union look for more attacking talent and find one in Nakazawa, who was a standout on the 2005 U.S. Under-17 World Cup team coached by Philly assistant John Hackworth.
18. New York Red Bulls-KWAME WATSON-SIRIBOE, D, UConn
Red Bulls already landed Opara, but you can't have too many central defender prospects and Watson-Siriboe gives New York the two best in the draft.This is assuming some team in dire need of a central defender doesn't grab Watson-Siriboe in the first round, which is entirely possible.
19. San Jose Earthquakes- ZACK SCHILAWSKI, F, Wake Forest
After making the tough call of choosing Bone over Bunbury, the Earthquakes are rewarded by having a first-round forward talent fall to them at 19. Schilawski and Bone worked very well together at Wake and should carry over that connection to a San Jose attack that could use the boost.
20. Kansas City Wizards-SEAN JOHNSON, GK, Central Florida
The Wizards grab the best talent on the board in Johnson, the most highly-rated goalkeeper in the pool and a potential replacement for Kevin Hartman.
21. FC Dallas- CHRIS SCHULER, D, Creighton
After landing Tchani and Akpan, FCD can focus on some defensive depth and grab the 6-foot-4 Schuler, a tough and mature centerback. Nick Cardenas and Phil Edgington are other options, but we see Dallas grabbing the player considered the strongest of the three.
22. Colorado Rapids-MICHAEL STEPHENS, M, UCLA
The Rapids won't mind landing Stephens here. A year ago Stephens was nearly a Generation adidas signing and someone who was considered a first-round talent. This year, Stephens has been lost in the shadow of all the underclassmen and could wind up slipping this far.
23. Colorado Rapids-NICK CARDENAS, D, San Diego State
The Rapids will be tempted to grab a left back here to help cover for the loss of Jordan Harvey, but they will be hard-pressed to pass on hometown product Cardenas, a Colorado native who's a 6-foot-5 centerback adept at heading home set pieces.
24. Toronto FC- PHIL EDGINGTON, D, Louisville
Anyone who watched TFC fall short in its hunt for a playoff spot knows the team's defense failed badly. Edgington is the best defender on the board, and as much as some TFC fans might think of Andrew Boyens when they see a tall centerback from New Zealand being drafted, Edgington was one of the more impressive central defenders in college last season.
25. New England Revolution-JOVAN BUBONJA, GK, Illinois-Chicago
The Revs always find a way to make out on draft day, don't they? After losing back-up goalkeeper Brad Knighton in the expansion draft, New England enters this draft needing to find a new one. How do they? They only land a goalkeeper who some scouts thought might be a first-round pick if he left school a year ago.
26. Chivas USA-NELSON BECERRA, M, St. John's
After drafting a teenage prospect in the first round, first-year coach looks for someone who can help more immediately here and he finds a good talent in Becerra. Adept at the sharp pass and dangerous shot, Becerra is a sleeper who could surprise some people at the Combine and catapult up these rankings. The Goats could also go for one of the quality left backs available, such as Ryan Peterman or Tim Ream.
27. Seattle Sounders-COLLEN WARNER, M, Portland
If the Sounders are hoping to find some attacking talent late, it could do worse than Warner, a dynamic midfielder who has the speed to move up top as well. The question is whether he will play himself into a higher position on draft boards at the Combine.
28. San Jose Earthquakes- ROSS LaBAUEX, M, Virginia
The Earthquakes can afford to go for the best available player here and LaBauex's versatility (he can play defensive midfielder and could be converted into a right back) as well as his work rate and athleticism makes him an easy pick here.
29. Chicago Fire-DREW YATES, F/M, Maryland
While Sarkodie helps offset the fullback losses, Yates could become Chicago's answer for the loss of Chris Rolfe. Though not as fast as Rolfe, Yates is a quick and versatile attacker who can play up top as well as on the wing.
30. San Jose Earthquakes- BARRY RICE, D, Kentucky
Having grabbed quality striker, attacking midfielder and defensive midfield prospects, the Earthquakes go for a central defender and find an athletic standout in Rice, who was inexplicably left out of the MLS Combine but who is still highly-regarded by some teams. San Jose could also grab one of the many promising left back prospects in the draft as well.
31.New York Red Bulls-RYAN PETERMAN, D, San Diego
The Red Bulls will look to help address their left back needs by grabbing Peterman, one of the best fullbacks in the pool. Left back is surprisingly deep this year so the Red Bulls could grab any number of prospects (including St. Louis' Tim Ream and Creighton's Seth Sinovic). Combine performances could ultimately decide who the Red Bulls grab here.
32.Real Salt Lake- BRIAN PERK, GK, UCLA
The champs traded back-up goalkeeper Chris Seitz to Philly, but land a quality prospect in Perk, who is cut from the Nick Rimando mold as a quick and aggressive shot-stopper (who also happens to come from goalkeeper factory UCLA).
What do you think of these rankings? Like the players your team ended up with? Who would you want your team to take in this draft?
Share your thoughts below.