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The latest on the 2013 Generation adidas class


With the NCAA Tournament in full swing, and players boosting and hurting their stock with each passing round, there is plenty to catch up on regarding the 2013 MLS Draft class.

From the growing likelihood that the Generation adidas class will be a small one, to the increasing sentiment that this year’s draft will be weak compared to previous year’s draft, the onus will be on teams to uncover the diamonds in the rough in a relatively shallow pool.

Does this mean the college talent pool is ready to take a long-term hit because of MLS academies? No, that isn’t what this year’s relatively weak class is about. The talent pool for the 2014 draft actually looks like it will be stronger than this year’s, but with MLS unlikely to hand out as many GA deals this year, that means more young talents will have to stay in school and have another year to develop, which will only help the 2014 draft pool.

Later today SBI will offer up the latest version of the MLS Draft Big Board (which will include several major changes because of the GA information we have received), but for now it is time to catch up on the latest on the Generation adidas and the draft pool.


So just how small could the 2013 Generation adidas class be? As few as six, with eight being the likely cap this year. If it winds up being that many, it will mark the third straight year the GA class has been smaller than the previous year’s. From 13 in 2010, to 11 in 2011, and nine last year, the GA class is getting smaller as MLS looks to direct more resources toward signing Homegrown Players (academy products).

So who are the GA locks? Right now only Andrew Farrell, Walker Zimmerman and Mikey Lopez can be considered locks to secure contracts if they want to sign deals. Beyond that though, there are no sure things, which comes as a surprise when you consider a player like Patrick Mullins, who has had an outstanding season.

That doesn’t mean Mullins won’t get a GA offer, but he isn’t as much of a sure thing as most would expect. He can fix that with a strong tournament run.

Two forwards who are very good bets to secure GA deals are VCU forward J.J. Johnson and Central Florida striker Deshorn Brown. Johnson is a physical striker in the C.J. Sapong mold while Brown is a pure speedster. Both have MLS scouts buzzing and both should be part of the GA class if they accept offers.

Two players who look more likely to stay in school are UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake and Indiana star Eriq Zavaleta. Blake is only a sophomore and the consensus is that since he isn’t really ready to play on the pro level that another year of development in college can only help. Zavaleta, another sophomore, has apparently been freed from any Homegrown Player claims but the sentiment in league circles is that another year in college would serve him better. Does that mean a strong finish in the NCAA tournament couldn’t earn him an offer? No, but it seems more likely at the moment that he won’t be offered a GA deal.

Ema Boateng is generating GA interest, but concerns about whether the UCSB freshman is ready for the jump has him on the fringes of the GA conversation right now. Coastal Carolina midfielder Pedro Ribeiro was thought to be a strong GA option, but I’m told he is on the fringes and far from a lock.

The big surprise regarding the current GA class is word that MLS is strongly considering signing youth prospect Kekuta Manneh. The Texas-based forward and native of Gambia has been turning heads on the youth soccer front for some time, and spent last summer with the Austin Aztex. For a glimpse of his skills, you can watch him tearing it up for Austin in this video.

Louisville’s Dylan Mares and Creighton’s Eric Miller are two sophomores who appear more likely to be part of next year’s Generation adidas class, while Wake Forest midfielder Jared Watts has garnered some attention, though he’s on the outside looking in, as is UConn’s Mamadou Diouf.

So what does the draft class look like at the moment? Here is the group we could see getting the nod:


Andrew Farrell, Walker Zimmerman, Mikey Lopez, J.J. Johnson, Deshorn Brown, Patrick Mullins, Kekuta Manneh


What do you think of this group? Surprised to hear which players aren’t being considered? Disappointed to hear the GA class will be smaller, or think it’s inevitable given the increased quality of Homegrown Players?

Share your thoughts below.



  1. As for Yannick smith….you cant bypass his junior campaign. He should fall somewhere in the super draft if he seals the deal at the mls combine. He battled injury alot this season and teams schemed against him. He not someone that should be overlooked

  2. They havent announced the GA players this year. Its not crazy to say he could be a GA this year. He is top 10 defenders in this year draft. He has nothing left to prove as a 3 yr starter at New Mexico. Also he has been a GA all year according to multiple sources. With the many HGP signings potentially this year, it could have an effect on his potential to lock in a contract. Additionally if other players such as sophomores stay another year it should be highly possible. Many teams need depth at Def positions and Kyle has all the attributes physically to contribute rt away.

    • Venter isn’t a GA candidate this year, but is pretty highly regarded as a CB and should be a first-rounder in 2014. Smith has been injured in 2012 and hasn’t really impressed as much as he did last year.

  3. If I could chime in on Deshorn Brown, he is a lethal goal scoring machine. I had the pleasure of watching him this past summer during his PDL stint in Reading United AC. Amazing speed, great vertical ability and he always puts himself in great positions to score. We’ve been fortunate to have some special players and some excellent goal scorers come through Reading (Wenger, Sapong, Schuler, Hertzog, Bates) but Deshorn may have been the best of that bunch.

  4. What about Brandon Allen of Georgetown? He scored 15 goals and he’s only a freshman. Deshorn Brown scored 13 goals for Central Florida, JJ Johnson scored 15 goals for VCU, however both are Juniors. Isn’t it more impressive to score 15 goals as a Freshman especially against better competition. Big East is a much tougher division, it sent the most teams to the NCAA tournament.

    • Allen is a New York Red Bulls Academy player, therefore not eligible for the Generation adidas program, and therefore not someone who would go in the draft.

      • Wasn’t sure how it worked. Thought a player had a choice of signing a Generation Addidas contract with the league (which is longer, more lucrative and guaranteed) or sign as a homegrown with his youth team?

    • Not sure how much this has to do with it, but a lot of these underclassmen aren’t quite ready to contribute right away. Many likely get their GA deals based on potential and teams are then willing to draft them based on a high ceiling and the fact that they don’t count against the salary cap.

      If you allow these kids to hire an agent and enter the draft without these deals, if they aren’t ready to step in and play right away, they’re much less likely to get drafted and you could very easily see these underclassmen not get drafted and lose their eligibility in college because of the agent. It’s simply a way to try and protect the kids more.

  5. If the goal is to produce players who will make a big mark in the big leagues, then college soccer is not a good developmental tool. But I don’t think that’s the only goal, nor should it be. College has produced a large number of solid professionals to fill out our domestic league, some of whom then make the leap to Europe. It’s very tough to get to the top top level this way–Dempsey is the exception–but otherwise it works fine.

    Besides, if you talk to Euro coaches who know something about US talent, the only thing keeping a flood of Americans from playing professionally in Europe now are the work permit issues. Quite a few former college players can play at at least the Championship level in England, but can’t get permits.

    Put another way, were guys like Holden, Cameron, and Ream dominating MLS before they went to Europe? No, they were good players but not world beaters. Rather, these were the guys who managed to get work permits. Change the work permit rules (not going to happen), and we’d see a whole host of American former collegiates sign for lower level EPL and Championship sides (to name a few: Omar, Besler, Berry, Zusi, Sapong, Gavin, Wondo, Beitashour, Morrow… I could go on but you get the point)

    • The Work permit problem is only a British one. That’s why so many go to Scandenavia, right? But many kids that age don’t want to go to a nation that speaks a different language which will just be yet another barrier to their success. I am surprised more kids don’t go play in countries where English is quite common even if it isn’t the official language (Switzerland for example, maybe Belgium?).

  6. MLS should partner with another lower level league and create some type of developmental league with affiliates. The reserve league now is such a joke and MLS has failed so miserably at developing talent that something has to be done soon.

    • It’s hard to do what Germany does with reserve teams (have them play in lower divisions) because the USL Pro Division is so small that MLS reserve teams would instantly form the majority of the league.

      One possibility is to have MLS reserve teams play the MLS reserve league schedule and play in the PDL in addition to that. That would mean 10 games against other MLS reserve teams plus 16 games against PDL teams, for a total of 26 games. Compensate for fixture congestion by calling up more academy players; the PDL is going to be a higher level of play than the academy players normally see anyway.

  7. I wish MLS would just get rid of the GA program and the draft altogether. I understand why they are both implemented but I think they could be phased out. Players and clubs should be able to sign who they want. They shouldn’t be bound to a draft order. I’d rther see players trialed at clubs than thrown into a combine pool. Probabky won’t ever happen but I can dream!

    • I think the the use of GA contracts will be phased. But why phase out the draft? There will always be players who develope later or a youth scout misses. Plus it does help the teams that don’t do well get first shot at some one who is good.

      • In England they don’t have a draft but they have geographical limits on what teams you can play for (was it 30 miles from your home?) but then those are ignored quite often so who knows.

  8. Wrong again, Ives. Playing in college does not give young players “another year to develop.” The college environment is full of distractions and is well agreed upon by the higher levels of US soccer and the rest of the world to be detrimental to player development. Soccer is not American football. Soccer is not baseball. Soccer is not basketball and player development should not follow the typical model in other American sports. That is the whole point of the academies….to get players into a professional environment as soon as possible. Sooner or later, any player with a prayer of making an impact at the pro level will not be playing in college at all.

    • Thas the dam truth, the collegiate environment does not seem to produce the level of players needed to make an impact on the international stage.

      • How many world class players did they develop? They may be good college coaches and I think that Caleb is likely to succeed coaching a professinal club, but NCAA restrictions on duration of the playing season and the number of hours devoted to athletic activities put college players at a big disadvantage when compared to players who are at a midtable club academy in Europe or South America. Plus, most college teams are coached to play a longball style that normally fails at the international level.

      • How many world class players did they develop? How many world class players have been produced in the US as a whole? The breakdown in development is not because our 18-22 year olds play in college, the breakdown in developing players starts far before that. College is an easy scapegoat, but most people have little to no idea what they’re talking about because they don’t actually watch it.

      • I agree that the whole youth development system is broken down, not just college. It’s not like we would start churning out world class players, if we were to get rid of college programs. My point is simply that from the player development prospective college soccer is the wrong place to go if you want to reach the world class level.

      • They can develop MLS players, but the cast of players who have played four years through college (or even three) and made it big on the international stage is slim.

        And it’s getting slimmer now that teenagers are becoming professionals. There’s just no way a player who turns pro at 22 competes with a player who turned pro at 17. The older player may have played more minutes, but it’s on a less structured team, training with lesser players, and playing against poor teams.

        I think college had it’s place pre-academies. But it’s quickly downsizing except for those who are either A. not good enough to be an MLS starter anyway or B. someone who doesn’t know if turning pro is for them.

        It’s also interesting to see the GA players whose contracts are up. Are we paying GA players too much like Opra who didn’t develop enough to justify the $300,000 salary.

    • Depends on how you look at it. Is playing games is more important than playing scrimmages in practice. Until the youth league plays more games per year College can and will be important to develope players.

      • But an average college soccer player is in school for four years. What would happen if those same players began their professional soccer careers earlier? Would they have been in their prime four years earlier, giving them longer and more successful careers?

      • Not necessarily. It can be argued that given the current set-up in the pros for young American players, many wind up struggling because they aren’t prepared from a maturity standpoint to deal with the off-field stuff as well as on-field stuff. The current MLS set-up isn’t necessarily conducive to cultivating young talent. That isn’t to say that some young players don’t make it through, but there is something to be said for the college experience, both on and off the field, creating players who are better prepared for all the things that go into being a pro.

      • Average college soccer players aren’t even making the MLS, so you shouldn’t really be focusing on them. It’s the elite at the top that could potentially be world class if given the proper development (which a lot of them get)

    • For the most part, the very best players are not found in college because they are already good enough to play professionally by the time they reach 18 or 19. However, there are quite a few players that have contributed to the MNT that did go to college and likely benefited from that time or that were late bloomers. So, the reality is that both tracks can be helpful.

      • Extremely rare for 18-19 year old to be on the first team in Europe. Thats why they have have U19, U21, U23 teams and reserves.

      • Absolutely! This is the real issue as MLS clubs need more (and higher) levels than just U-16 and U-18. The reserves isn’t enough.

    • College can became a great place to dev. talent, college just needs to allow more games and changes the rules. That is only going to happen, when soccer becomes a sport that is worth money. Basketball, Baseball and Football have forced the NCAA to build they rules, to their sport needs.Again college will always be important and is needed because of the size of this country.

    • So you are saying that players who spend another year in college will become worse? So all players peak the day before they start college?

    • until we expand the reserve league from 10 games to 30 games, the NCAA environment is the best we have for the 18-22 year old player who is not yet MLS-ready.

    • you’re simplifying the argument far too much. Is a professional academy a better option than a college program? Most would say yes, and I’m one of them. But, for kids that are already in the college system they have two choices: Stay in school, develop more, and get playing time at a high level or go pro. If they go pro, and they aren’t ready to step in as a starter or impact sub, it’s entirely possible that they’d find themselves out of the league, or playing for his teams reserve squad (where competition probably isn’t much better than big time college soccer).

      If you go pro and aren’t a starter, you wont be doing much of anything outside of practice. This year MLS reserve teams played 10 games. UCONN has played 21 games this year. In this discussion its not about college vs/ academies, its about playing time and developing, which is much harder as a rookie than it is as a college stud.

      • Excellent point. The same people that complain when a young player moves abroad and nearly flatlines their career by playing in reserve matches and sitting the bench then argues that more Americans 18-22 should quit playing college to set the bench for an MLS team and play 10 reserve league matches against other guys not good enough to play with the full squad.

    • No BK, you’re the one who doesn’t grasp the fact that given the lack of playing options for young players not ready for the pro jump, staying in college is a better alternative than wasting a year getting no real games. This is especially true for a goalkeeper. It is also more beneficial to MLS to leave a prospect who isn’t ready in college rather than paying them to warm a bench.

      College soccer isn’t the problem. The lack of a better development alternative is the problem. Unfortunately, some people continue to launch misguided critism at the college game. It is far from perfect but you can argue four-year college players do better in MLS than GA players.

      • and besides most of the big programs that produce the players that actually send players to the pros do not follow the stupid NCAA rules that limit practice time , work-outs, off-season training, and are good players to constantly play year round with a bunch of like minded players .

        College game should go to 6 subs total and no re-entry , just to force more and more teams to not turn games into track meets. MLS is getting better and the level of college play isn’t dropping off either. Shows more and more youth setups are getting it right across the country.

      • Sorry again, sir, but I played D-1 soccer for a conference championship team and I will double down on my earlier statement that college does not develop players and, to answer one reader’s question, yes, some players do get worse…I’ve seen it.

        Sure college has produced the top US players up until now…duh. That’s because it was the best option we have had for that age group. For a large percentage of the country not within driving distance of an academy, it is still the best option for young men. Statistically, it’s also no surprise that some of our top player have been able to compete on an international level. But what I believe, and what Klinsmann has said repeatedly, is that players need a professional environment early if we expect to take the next step. I’m not talking about 18 year olds. I’m talking about 13, 14, 15 year old kids. Is it any wonder that the best player in the world right now was making his debut for Barcelona at the age of 17? He certainly wasn’t gargoyling beers until 3 in the morning before training everyday.

        “No real games?” What does that mean? Games in front of 20k fans? Or games against the top competition in an environment focused on development and not results? These guys should be playing in academy leagues for their games….leagues that foster the individual development and not conference championships. No one is saying they need to be getting first team pro action or “ride the bench.” The first team is for winning games and making ownership and fans happy….the reserves and academies are for developing players for the first team and that’s where these guys should be cutting their teeth.

        Agreed, in the lack of an alternative, college will remain a primary source for MLS talent. And the US will remain a #30 national team and MLS will remain a second tier professional league. Until the league gets serious about a reserve league or until US soccer can come up with something like Spain’s regional Tercera, college is the best of mostly crappy options for all but the earliest developers.

      • Being on a conference champion doesn’t qualify you to be the almighty know it all concerning the development of NCAA soccer. There’s a difference between winning the ACC and CUSA. Of course players at crappy schools playing for crappy coaches don’t develop, but this conversation isn’t about them. It’s about the 1% good enough to play professionally.

    • Why do you stop at 3 sports. Every Olympic sport out there uses college to DEVELOP athletes. Keep telling us how soccer is not…track, gymnastics, swimming, etc

      College is and will be the way almost everyone goes. Foolish to think otherwise.

      • there is room for academy development AND college soccer. it does not have to be one or the other. and college players can get a lot more games than they get during the traditional season. they play a spring season and they can play on a team in the summer too. not to mention the captains practices and access to workout facilities that the college provides. it is not a professional environment, but it is not far from it and getting closer and closer if you ask me…

    • For one they get a pretty good size contract. Also, MLS pays for it not the club team that drafts. SO it helps a club team with salary cap room.

    • MLS only drafts underclassmen if they are GA. So for all the non-seniors, it’s GA or back to college (well, or to another league). GA players also don’t count against the salary cap, which gives teams an incentive to draft them. GA players also have guaranteed salaries for their first couple years. In the past, GA players were also much better paid than most MLS rookies, though the money has been cut back in the past couple years.

      • Got it, thanks guys. So essentially it’s a way for MLS to keep young talent in the domestic league that could otherwise choose a foreign league and it gives incentive to teams who are willing to do that.

      • Well — if top players like Mullins don’t get GA offers this year, it means the draft lass next year should be pretty deep.

      • i’m assuming you mean that mullins, and others like him, will just stay in school til next year, as opposed to going pro (and maybe that what ives was saying too–just missed it).

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