By IVES GALARCEP
The 2015 MLS Draft kicks off on Thursday in Philadelphia and while it is never a good idea to try and predict how the draft will go, we will try to do just that with our final crack at an MLS Mock Draft.
The final edition of the SBI 2015 MLS Mock Draft has plenty of changes from the previous edition, with several coaches and general managers and scouts providing us with insight and feedback after the conclusion of the MLS Combine.
The overall consensus is that this year’s draft boasts a strong crop of central defenders, as well as a good number of viable left backs. An area where coaches were pleasantly surprised at the Combine is in central midfield, where some gems emerged down in Florida.
Here is the latest SBI 2015 MLS Mock Draft:
SBI 2015 MLS MOCK DRAFT (Version. 3.0)
1. ORLANDO CITY- Cyle Larin, Forward, UConn
Though they could entertain trade offers from the likes of Toronto FC and Montreal, Orlando City is likely to grab Larin if they keep the top spot.
2. NEW YORK CITY FC- Cristian Roldan, Central Midfielder, Washington
Jason Kreis loves possession-style soccer and highly-technical midfielders, and has said he wants to draft a player who he can spend time grooming. Roldan fits that mold. Now, if NYCFC passes on Roldan, he could wind up slipping several picks given the teams picking after NYCFC.
3. MONTREAL IMPACT- Romario Williams, Forward, Central Florida
The Impact will likely generate some trade offers from teams interested in grabbing Khiry Shelton at this spot, but if they stand pat, they could grab the young Jamaican forward Williams, who showed improvement through the MLS Combine, and boasts a good combination of size, speed and attacking quality.
4. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES- Khiry Shelton, Forward, Oregon State
Dom Kinnear has added some pieces to his new team’s defense, and can use this pick to focus on attack. Shelton is a player with bags of potential, but is not quite the finished product yet. He can play as a forward or winger, and is extremely mobile for his size. Kinnear could also grab Nick Besler with this pick
5. PORTLAND TIMBERS- Nick Besler, Central Midfielder, Notre Dame
Without any glaring needs, the Timbers have the luxury of going for the best available player. Besler is a polished central midfielder who is skilled enough to play in a variety of positions, though if Shelton falls to the Timbers, they will pounce.
6. TORONTO FC- Alex Bono, Goalkeeper, Syracuse
With three first round picks, TFC could choose to trade up to grab Larin. If they stand pat, look for them to grab Bono, who gives them a goalkeeper for the future and the cap relief that comes with a Generation adidas player.
7. CHICAGO FIRE- Otis Earle, Left Back, UC Riverside
Though the Fire signed an exciting left back Jovein Jones, his status as a Trinidad and Tobago international means Frank Yallop can go for depth by grabbing the best fullback in the draft. Earle is fast, looks good in the attack and has all the makings of an eventual starter in MLS.
8. HOUSTON DYNAMO- Dzenan Catic, Forward, Davenport (NAIA)
Owen Coyle could be tempted to pick from the deep crop of central defenders, but don’t be surprised if he grabs an exciting forward who caught his eye at the MLS Combine. Catic is mobile, tall and fearless in the final third. Catic looked as close to a pro-ready attacker as there was at the Combine.
9. TORONTO FC- Fatai Alashe, Defensive Midfielder, Michigan State
With Bono selected earlier and Michigan State Jay Chapman set to sign a Homegrown Player deal, TFC could choose to trade down from this spot. If they don’t, they could reunite Chapman with college teammate Fatai Alashe, one of the best defensive midfield prospects in the draft.
10. SPORTING KANSAS CITY- Tim Parker, Central Defender, St. John’s
Sporting KC learned a valuable lesson about how important centerback depth is a year ago as injuries decimated their backline. Peter Vermes can add a strong, mature and athletic defender in Parker who impressed scouts with his steady play at the Combine.
11. TORONTO FC- Connor Hallisey, Left Wing, California
Greg Vanney knows all too well how important good left sided players can be, and grabs the best left winger in the draft and a player skilled enough to contribute in year one with his excellent service and quickness on the flank.
12. SPORTING KANSAS CITY- Andy Thoma, Left Back, Washington
Defensive depth is once again on the menu for Sporting KC, and Thoma helps provide depth at left back. Despite a quiet MLS Combine, Thoma is still regarded as one of the best fullbacks in the draft.
13. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS- Conor Donovan, Central Defender, NC State
Well-known for their collection of young attacking talents, the Whitecaps can add a promising young defender to the squad in Donovan, the U.S. U-20 centerback.
14. COLUMBUS CREW – Axel Sjoberg, Central Defender, Marquette
After addressing attacking needs in the offseason, the Crew can focus on adding defensive depth in this draft. Sjoberg is a 6-foot-7 centerback that reads the game well, is dominant in the air and could fit well in Gregg Berhalter’s system.
15. FC DALLAS- Miguel Aguilar, Right Winger/Forward, San Francisco
Though he could use depth in central defense, Oscar Pareja has shown a keen eye for attacking talent in the draft. His next gem could be Aguilar, an exciting forward who impressed at the MLS Combine with his technical quality, tenacity and ability to go at defenders.
16. REAL SALT LAKE- Dan Metzger, Central Midfielder, Maryland
Having lost several key starters in the offseason, RSL finds itself with a few different positions of need. Metzger can help provide some needed depth in the midfield. RSL could also reach for San Diego left back Connor Brandt as a replacement for Chris Wingert.
17. D.C. UNITED- Eric Bird, Central Midfielder, Virginia
Though the Eastern Conference regular season champions can use a forward, look for Ben Olsen to grab NCAA champion Bird, who could provide skill and passing vision in central midfield.
18. NEW YORK RED BULLS- Leo Stolz, Central Midfield, UCLA
Before concerns about him choosing to go to Europe, Stolz was a top-five rated talent in this draft. Contract talks fell apart after Stolz attempted to dictate where he would be drafted. His lack of an MLS senior contract could scare teams off, but the Red Bulls are a team he wants to play for and he would be an absolute steal at this pick.
19. COLORADO RAPIDS-Aaron Simmons, Central Defender, UCLA
The Rapids defense was an absolute mess in 2014 and, after losing Marvell Wynne, the Rapids turn to another athletic UCLA product in Simmons, who could step in and play at centerback and also provide depth at defensive midfield.
20. SPORTING KANSAS CITY- Zach Steinberger, Central Midfielder, Butler
Sporting KC has several options at this pick, such as midfielder Matt Polster and left back Connor Brandt if they don’t address those positions earlier. Steinberger was very impressive at the Combine and excelled in PDL as an effective forward with a good motor.
21. LOS ANGELES GALAXY- Andy Craven, Forward, North Carolina
The defending champions don’t need much, but a pacey forward option like Craven could be useful off the bench. If Stolz isn’t taken by now, look for the Galaxy to jump on it.
22. ORLANDO CITY- Ramon Martin Del Campo, Central Defender, UC-Davis
23. NYCFC- Connor Brandt, Left Back, San Diego
24. PORTLAND TIMBERS- Ignacio Maganto, Central Midfielder, Iona
25. ORLANDO CITY- Matt Polster, Central Midfield, SIU- Edwardsville
26. COLORADO RAPIDS- Akeil Barrett, Left Wing, Tulsa
27. SEATTLE SOUNDERS- Oumar Ballo, Central Defender, UMBC
28. CHICAGO FIRE- Sergio Campbell, Central Defender, UConn
29. TORONTO FC- Daniel Keller, Central Defender, Louisville
30. SPORTING KC- Boyd Okwuonu, Right Back, North Carolina
31. PHILADELPHIA UNION- Anthony Manning, Central Defender, Saint Louis
32. PORTLAND TIMBERS- Oniel Fisher, Right Back, New Mexico
33. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION- Robbie Lovejoy, Forward, North Carolina
34. PORTLAND TIMBERS- Cameron Iwasa, Forward, UC-Irvine
35. COLUMBUS CREW- Sagi Lev-Ari, Forward, Cal-State Northridge
36. HOUSTON DYNAMO- James Rogers, Right Winger, New Mexico
37. TORONTO FC- Luke Mishu, Right Back, Notre Dame
38. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS- Wes Charpie, Right Back, South Florida
39. NEW YORK RED BULLS- Cameron Porter, Forward, Princeton
40. SEATTLE SOUNDERS- Saad Abdul-Salaam, Right Back, Akron
41. PHILADELPHIA UNION-Andrew Wolverton, Goalkeeper, Penn State
42. D.C. UNITED- Spencer Richey, Goalkeeper, Washington
43. ORLANDO CITY – Andrew Bevin, Forward, West Virginia
44. NYCFC -Emeka Onyonye, Central Defender, Wright State
45. MONTREAL IMPACT – Skyler Thomas, Central Defender, Syracuse
46. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES -Stefano Bonomo, Forward, California
47. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION – Seth Casiple, Midfielder, California
48. SEATTLE SOUNDERS – Jose Ribas, Left Back, Creighton
49. HOUSTON DYNAMO – Janeil Hoilett, Forward/Midfielder, Youth International
50. TORONTO FC – Jordan Murrell, Left Back, Syracuse
51. PHILADELPHIA UNION – Sal Bernal, Forward, UNLV
52. PORTLAND TIMBERS – Marc Fenelus, Forward, Cal-State Fullerton
53. SPORTING KC – Tyler Engel, Forward, North Carolina
54. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS – Will Seymore, Central Defender, Oregon State
55. COLUMBUS CREW – Shawn McLaws, Right Back, Coastal Carolina
56. FC DALLAS – Tyler Arnone, Central Midfielder, Michigan
57. REAL SALT LAKE – Nick Miele, Central Defender, New Mexico
58. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS – Craig Nitti, Central Defender, Loyola Marymount
59. NEW YORK RED BULLS – Nikola Paunic, Central Defender, South Florida
60. COLUMBUS CREW – Adria Beso Marco, Central Midfielder, UConn
61. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS – Zach Bateer, Forward, Stanford
62. LA GALAXY – Duke Lacroix, Forward/Winger, Penn