The 2015 MLS draft is just 11 days away, and with the draft class taking shape in recent days, it’s time to start looking at how the draft could shake out.
The first SBI MLS Mock Draft is out later than usual, in part because it was very tough to figure out what the MLS draft player pool would look like. The smoke has started to clear though, and even the Generation adidas class is coming into focus after weeks of uncertainty about who would be available.
This year’s draft does not boast the type of blue-chip talents that can step in and make an impact from day one, but it is arguably a deeper draft than last year for players who can make MLS rosters. The positions boasting the most talent are left back and central defender, while there are also a handful of promising goalkeeper prospects.
We will drop a few versions of the SBI MLS Mock Draft between now and the Jan. 15th draft, as we get a better sense of what teams are interested in, and as the MLS Combine either boosts or hurts the stock of draft prospects.
For now, here is a look at our first SBI MLS Mock Draft:
SBI 2015 MLS MOCK DRAFT (Version. 1.0)
1. ORLANDO CITY- Cyle Larin, Forward, UConn
Top prospect in the draft goes to a team that can bring him along slowly.
2. NEW YORK CITY FC- Cristian Roldan, Central Midfielder, Washington
Jason Kreis loves skilled midfielders and Roldan has the sort of tools Kreis can mold into something special.
3. MONTREAL IMPACT- Romario Williams, Forward, Central Florida
The Impact can use some forward depth and Williams has the tools to develop into a good pro. The young Jamaican combines speed, size and finishing ability.
4. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES- Ramon Martin Del Campo, Central Defender, UC-Davis
The Earthquakes could be tempted to grab an athletic and skilled forward in Khiry Shelton, but go for a local product who helps fill an area of need.
5. PORTLAND TIMBERS- Khiry Shelton, Forward, Oregon State
The Timbers also grab a local product, but one who can help add to the attacking corp. Shelton can play wide in Portland’s 4-3-3 and provide some depth there.
6. TORONTO FC- Alex Bono, Goalkeeper, Syracuse
TFC has three first-round picks and has a chance to grab some quality prospects who may need time to develop. With Michigan State midfielder Jay Chapman now designated as a TFC Homegrown player, TFC can focus on best talent available and Bono has the kind of upside that could see him develop into a top-end pro in goal.
7. CHICAGO FIRE- Andy Thoma, Left Back, Washington
Left back was a clear area of need for the Fire heading into the offseason, and they addressed it with the signing of Trinidadian fullback Joevin Jones. Now Frank Yallop can turn the position into a strength, and give himself some cover behind an international player with Thoma, who is good enough to play minutes as a rookie.
8. HOUSTON DYNAMO- Nick Besler, Central Midfielder, Notre Dame
New Dynamo head coach Owen Coyle may not be that familiar with college talent, but grabbing a very talented midfielder who just spent four years developing under another Scottish coach in Notre Dame’s Bobby Clark. Besler is smooth on the ball, reads the game very well, and should fit in well as Coyle molds the team into his own style.
9. TORONTO FC- Fatai Alashe, Defensive Midfielder, Michigan State
If TFC completes the signing of Jay Chapman to a Homegrown Player deal, then grabbing his college teammate could give the Canadian club some nice midfield depth to go along with star Michael Bradley and Jonathan Osorio. Alashe is very highly regarded by some teams, and could wind up going even higher, but he would be good value here.
10. SPORTING KANSAS CITY- Aaron Simmons, Central Defender, UCLA
The looming acquisition of Roger Espinoza makes central midfield a bit less of a priority at this pick, so look for Sporting KC to grab some centerback depth in Simmons, who isn’t signed to an MLS senior contract yet but is very polished and pro ready.
11. TORONTO FC- Otis Earle, Left Back, UC-Riverside
Justin Morrow was a solid addition for TFC at left back last season, but you can never have too many fullbacks and Earle is one of the best in this draft. If TFC keeps all three first-round picks, and winds up with a haul of Bono, Alashe and Earle, it will be a good day in Toronto.
12. SPORTING KANSAS CITY- Dan Metzger, Central Midfielder, Maryland
The impending signing of Espinoza makes the central midfield position less vital, but after taking Simmons earlier, it will be tough to pass on a player like Metzger.
13. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS- Conor Donovan, Central Defender, North Carolina State
The Whitecaps don’t really have pressing needs it can address at this spot, so grabbing a young talent like Donovan, who would provide some salary cap relief as a Generation adidas player, makes some sense.
14. COLUMBUS CREW- Axel Sjoberg, Central Defender, Marquette
The Crew can use some defensive depth and Sjoberg has the skill on the ball to play in Gregg Berhalter’s possession system.
15. FC DALLAS- Tim Parker, Central Defender, St. John’s
With George John moving on, and central defense depth such an issue in 2014, Oscar Pareja will look for some depth there and Parker is as polished a centerback as there is in the draft. May not have the upside of some other prospects, but he could step in and earn minutes in year one if need be.
16. REAL SALT LAKE-Leo Stolz, Central Midfielder, UCLA
Teams will be scared off by the fact Leo Stolz hasn’t signed an MLS senior deal, and there is word that he is making demands on which clubs he is willing to play for. From a soccer standpoint, Stolz could find worse places to wind up than RSL, which plays an excellent brand of soccer and could showcase his skills well.
17. D.C. UNITED- Eric Bird, Central Midfielder, Virginia
D.C. has a strong roster of vets and not many glaring needs that can be addressed at this point in the draft, so taking a player with local ties and impressive potential makes sense. The team has youngsters at other positions, so grabbing a young central midfielder is worth the pick.
18. NEW YORK RED BULLS- Anthony Manning, Central Defender, Saint Louis
The Red Bulls would love to see Tim Parker slide down, but will settle for the 6-foot-4 Manning, who is a strong and steady centerback with good feet.
19. COLORADO RAPIDS- Tyler Miller, Goalkeeper, Northwestern
The Rapids have a pair of relatively young goalkeepers in Clint Irwin and John Berner, but with Irwin coming off a disappointing year, grabbing the best senior goalkeeper makes sense. Miller could be the best goalkeeper in the draft if Alex Bono doesn’t sign a GA deal, and has the size, positioning and presence in the area to be an eventual starter.
20. SPORTING KANSAS CITY- James Rogers, Right Winger/Forward, New Mexico
Having lost Soony Saad and C.J. Sapong, Sporting KC can stand to replenish its forward ranks and Rogers is the type of player who could provide some depth as a right forward in the 4-3-3. Good speed and can take people on.
21. LOS ANGELES GALAXY- Boyd Okwuonu, Right Back, North Carolina
The Galaxy already have a “right back of the future” in Oscar Sorto, but taking Sorto’s former U.S. Under-20 teammate in Okwuonu wouldn’t be a stretch given what’s left on the board.