By IVES GALARCEP
The MLS Draft is taking shape as we draw closer to this week’s 2015 MLS Combine, and we are slowly starting to see a more clear picture of which players will be taking part.
The Generation adidas class chase had ground to a halt, but my latest story for Goal.com revealed the latest in the league’s attempts to put together the group. UCLA’s Abu Danladi is staying in school, leaving UConn forward Cyle Larin and Washington midfielder Cristian Roldan as the top targets MLS is still going after.
MLS may be struggling to reel in its top Generation adidas targets, but has had more success signing up the top seniors in the draft. My Goal.com story revealed seven seniors the league will be signing to senior contracts prior to the MLS Draft. One senior who hasn’t been signed is UCLA’s Leo Stolz, who now seems unlikely to sign.
Our latest SBI MLS Draft Big Board is up to 70 players, and reflects the latest developments on the GA and senior signing fronts. Stolz has dropped on our board due to the uncertainty of his contract status (and the fact that several teams see an international player who turns 24 next month, and thus not worth a high draft pick). Saint Louis forward Robbie Kristo is also off our Big Board after reportedly preparing to sign a deal with an unnamed Serie B team.
The first SBI MLS Mock Draft will drop on Monday, but for now be sure to check out our latest edition of the SBI 2015 MLS Draft Big Board:
SBI 2015 MLS Draft Big Board (Version 2.0)
(@-Potential Generation adidas players)
1-@ CYLE LARIN, Forward, UConn (BIO)
Teenage Canadian striker is highly coveted, boasting the tools and potential to be an impact player on the pro level. Already has Canadian national team experience and is a lock top two pick. Is in talks on a Generation adidas deal, and is expected to sign.
2-@ CRISTIAN ROLDAN, Midfielder, Washington (BIO)
Skilled central midfielder with excellent vision and a good motor. Has been offered a Generation adidas contract for the second straight year, but has yet to accept an offer. Would be a longer-term project, and not all teams convinced he’s ready for the next level yet.
3-@ ROMARIO WILLIAMS, Forward, Central Florida (BIO)
Fast Jamaican forward was a bit of a surprise Generation adidas target, but looks to be a lock for the class. There are conflicting accounts about whether he has a signed a deal yet, but he has been offered one and if he hasn’t signed one yet, it is only a matter of time. Especially given Abu Danladi’s decision to stay in school.
4- KHIRY SHELTON, Forward, Oregon State (BIO)
Strong and skilled forward with the pace and technical quality to play as a striker or winger, Shelton boosted his stock considerably during a standout senior season. Could definitely be the first senior off the board. Has signed an MLS senior contract.
5-@ ALEX BONO, Goalkeeper, Syracuse (BIO)
Best available goalkeeper in the draft pool, but it remains unclear whether MLS will make him a Generation adidas offer. The 6-foot-3 shot stopper is the top goalkeeping prospect in a good crop of netminders.
6- RAMON MARTIN DEL CAMPO, Defender, UC-Davis (BIO)
The U.S. Under-23 central defender was first spotted by the San Jose Earthquakes, but chances of landing him as a homegrown player were always slim. Very highly rated by a handful of teams, and could be a target for San Jose with the No. 4 pick in the draft. Has signed an MLS senior contract.
7- NICK BESLER, Central Midfielder, Notre Dame (BIO)
Matt Besler’s younger brother is a smart central midfielder who reads the game well and has the kind of poise on the ball and intelligence pro coaches love. Has signed an MLS senior contract.
8- FATAI ALASHE, Defensive Midfielder, Michigan State (BIO)
Another player with the characteristics to contribute as a rookie, Alashe covers ground in midfield well, is strong on the ball and passes well from deep in midfield. Has signed an MLS senior contract.
9- DAN METZGER, Defensive Midfielder, Maryland (BIO)
Tough and intelligent midfielder who heads into the draft with the polish of four years starting for one of college soccer’s top programs. Doesn’t boast the athleticism of some other midfielders in the draft, but there aren’t many better soccer players. Has signed an MLS senior contract.
10- ANDY THOMA, Left Back, Washington (BIO)
Best fullback in the draft, Thoma is a quick left back who provides good service. The consensus top choice in a good class of left backs, and has signed an MLS senior contract.
11- AARON SIMMONS, Central Defender/Defensive Midfielder, UCLA (BIO)
One of the more pro-ready prospects in the draft, Simmons has the experience and physical attributes to play right away, either as a central defender or defensive midfielder.
@12. CONOR DONOVAN, Central Defender, North Carolina State (BIO)
A new name in the Generation adidas conversation, Donovan is a long-time youth national team player who is now a part of the U.S. Under-20 national team setup. The 6-foot-2 centerback is only 19, but his work with the U-20s has helped boost his stock and if Roldan isn’t signed then Donovan could definitely wind up signing.
13- OTIS EARLE, Left Back, UC Riverside (BIO)
The son of NBC analyst Robbie Earle is a very talented fullback with the skill set to be one of the first defenders off the board. Boasts good technique as a left back, and will push Thoma to be the first fullback off the board. Has signed an MLS senior contract.
14- LEO STOLZ, Midfielder, UCLA (BIO)
The German standout is a talented central midfielder who can create his own chances and also set up teammates. From a talent standpoint, he should be higher on this list, but he will be 24 when 2015 begins. His age, coupled with his status as an international player will cost him on the draft boards of several teams. He also hasn’t signed is MLS senior deal yet.
15-BOYD OKWUONU, Right Back, North Carolina (BIO)
The former U.S. Under-20 national team defender is one of the more experienced and polished prospects in the draft. Projects as a right back, though he has played his share of central defense. Passed over for a Homegrown Player deal by FC Dallas, which is already loaded with homegrown players, but Okwuonu should still be a first-round pick. Has signed an MLS senior contract.
16- AXEL SJOBERG, Central Defender, Marquette (BIO)
A 6-foot-7 Swedish central defender, Sjoberg moves very well for his size and makes full use of his imposing height on set pieces. He is a graduating junior, but turns 24 on MLS opening day, so he isn’t exactly young.
17- ERIC BIRD, Central Midfielder, Virginia (BIO)
Boosted his stock with a good senior year, showing good skill on the ball, creativity and quickness while helping lead UVA to an NCAA title, but there are still some questions about whether his skills set can translate to a higher level.
18- TIM PARKER, Central Defender, St. John’s (BIO)
Tough and strong central defender who has the attributes to transition well to the pro game. A four-year starter at St. John’s, Parker is a 6-foot-2 centerback who is a safer prospect than some others with more upside but more question marks.
19- TYLER MILLER, Goalkeeper, Northwestern (BIO)
Will be the top goalkeeper in the draft unless Alex Bono signs a Generation adidas contract. The 6-foot-4 shot stopper is strong in the air and commands the penalty area well.
20- OUMAR BALLO, Central Defender, UMBC (BIO)
A talented 6-foot-2 central defender who has scouts split on just how enticing a prospect he is. Left-footed centerback who boasts good athleticism and aerial prowess, but is shaky on the ball and there are questions about him being able to defend in space. Also turns 24 in April, so not exactly a young prospect.
21- JAMES ROGERS, Right Winger, New Mexico (BIO)
22- ANTHONY MANNING, Central Defender, Saint Louis (BIO)
23- AKEIL BARRETT, Right Winger/Forward, Tulsa (BIO)
24- JORDAN MURRELL, Left Back, Syracuse (BIO)
25- JOSE RIBAS, Left Back, Creighton (BIO)
26- MIGUEL AGUILAR, Forward, San Francisco (BIO)
27- WES CHARPIE, Right Back, South Florida (BIO)
28- DZENAN CATIC, Forward, Davenport (NAIA) (BIO)
29- CONNOR HALLISEY, Left Winger, California (BIO)
30- ROBBIE LOVEJOY, Forward/Midfielder, North Carolina (BIO)
31- LUKE MISHU, Right Back, Notre Dame (BIO)
32- ANDY CRAVEN, Forward, North Carolina (BIO)
33- DANIEL KELLER, Central Defender, Louisville (BIO)
34- ANDREW WOLVERTON, Goalkeeper, Penn State (BIO)
35- MATT POLSTER, Central Defender, SIU-Edwardsville (BIO)
36- ADRIA BESO MARCO, Midfielder, UConn (BIO)
37- ANDREW BEVIN, Forward, West Virginia (BIO)
38- SAL BERNAL, Forward, UNLV (BIO)
39- EMEKA ONYONYE, Central Defender, Wright State (BIO)
40- SERGIO CAMPBELL, Central Defender, UConn (BIO)
41- SKYLER THOMAS, Central Defender, Syracuse (BIO)
42- ALEX SHINSKY, Forward, Maryland (BIO)
43- DUKE LACROIX, Forward/Winger, Penn (BIO)
44- SETH CASIPLE, Midfielder, California (BIO)
45- CONNOR BRANDT, Left Wing/Left Back, San Diego (BIO)
46- MARQUEZ FERNANDEZ, Right Back, UMBC (BIO)
47- SAGI LEV-ARI, Forward, Cal-State Northridge (BIO)
48-FABIO MACHADO, Midfielder, Providence (BIO)
49- ZACH STEINBERGER, Forward, Butler (BIO)
50- NICK MIELE, Central Defender, New Mexico (BIO)
51-NIKOLA PAUNIC, Central Defender, South Florida
52- SAAD ABDUL-SALAAM, Right Back, Akron
53- SPENCER RICHEY, Goalkeeper, Washington
54- RICKY GARBANZO, Forward, Coastal Carolina
55- ADAM MONTAGUE, Forward, Michigan State
56- CAMERON IWASA, Forward, UC-Irvine
57- CRAIG NITTI, Central Defender, Loyola Marymount
58- ONIEL FISHER, Midfielder, New Mexico
59- SHAWN MCLAWS, Right Back, Coastal Carolina
60- TYLER ENGEL, Forward, North Carolina
61- LAURIE BELL, Defender/Midfielder, Wisconsin-Milwaukee
62- TYLER ARNONE, Central Midfielder, Michigan
63- EARL EDWARDS, UCLA, Goalkeeper
64- ZACH BATEER, Forward, Stanford
65-TOMAS GOMEZ, Goalkeeper, Georgetown
66-WILL SEYMOUR, Central Midfielder, Oregon State
67-STEFANO BONOMO, Forward, California
68- DOMINIQUE BADJI, Forward, Boston U.
69- WILL VITALIS, Forward, Louisville
70- CHRISTIAN VOLESKY, Forward, SIU Edwardsville
Interesting list. Out of curiosity, maybe too much, looked at list of 70 noticed 12 draft possibilities (if I counted right) who were not invites to the combine among the first 55 invited. I always thought the college coaches sent a list to the MLS, and then the MLS sent a list back of who they wanted to see. Looking at past drafts (outside of Generation Adidas players) I saw very few who were not on the original MLS list and were subsequently drafted in the first two rounds; a few on the secondary list (ie. additional 10-12 invitees) made it but these were relative unknowns from small schools who really shined at the combine (ie. Marquez from Redlands and Akindele from Colorado Mines in 2014). Last year (and it seems prior ones) almost everyone who was on the Hermann Watch List and got invited among the first 50 was drafted in the first two rounds. I would probably move up anyone who was in the first 55 invitees ahead of the non invitees, and move up anyone on the watch list and also among first 55 first as ending up a pick in the top two rounds. The top 55 were probably invited for a reason – some team in the MLS scouted them, followed them and still wanted to see them at the end of the collegiate season. This might create a more realistic projection in your choices from around 25 – 70.
Any idea what Omar Holness is going to do? He already received a call up to the full squad with Jamaica in 2014, and I would be surprised to see him back in college next year.
I don’t get something. I keep reading how other nations have a great youth development system. But, then I see on this list that some players have come to the US to play college soccer. What’s the explanation for this? See:
Leo Stoltz – Germany
Axel Sjoberg – Sweden
Yes, it’s only 2 but I wonder why they didn’t stay in Germany & Sweden to develop as players. Why come to the US to play college soccer?
not good enough to hack it in the European academy set up, got an offer at 20 ish to 1- get a free education in case soccer doesnt work out and 2- have another crack at making it as a professional? Believe me, if they were studs they would be in the academy set up. Frankly, they should be starting in a professional league at 24.
Dom Dwyer wants to have a word with you
They are not the only 2 smarties
They value higher education, and they aren’t wrong. Unfortunately, most soccer players in the rest of the world only care, or care to know about, one thing (soccer). US can rightly claim to have an edge there.