We all know how futile mock drafts can be, and even moreso in a draft primed for a plethora of trades, but that won’t stop us from trying to figure out which players might wind up with which teams.
As always, we remind everyone that the purpose of this mock draft is to give you a sense of the sort of players who will be going around the time your team picks so you have an idea of where plays are being valued. Of course, it only takes one team rating a player much higher than most to throw a wrench into projections.
The MLS Combine has helped several players boost their stock considerably, while also costing some players lofty standings after shaky performances. No, not all teams put a lot of weight on the combine in overall evaluation, but a player’s overall stack can fall if they really struggle, while a lesser known player can certainly skyrocket up the charts with some strong outings.
The only player in our Mock Draft who isn’t yet eligible to be in the draft is Abu Danladi, who has yet to sign a Generation adidas deal. As of late Monday night it sounded as though there was still a chance he could sign, though the odds are shrinking by the hour at this point.
With that in mind, we will project this mock draft with Danladi included. If he not signed by Wednesday morning, we will leave Danladi out of the final SBI MLS Mock Draft, which will drop on Wednesday.
Now, without any further ado, here is version 2.0 of the 2016 SBI MLS Mock Draft:
1- CHICAGO FIRE – Joshua Yaro, Right Back/Centerback, Georgetown
Though he is the consensus top talent in the draft, Yaro isn’t everyone’s top pick and it is unclear just where Chicago’s new regime stands on rating him. The previous regime didn’t rate Yaro as top-pick worthy, but he could step in and start in year one for the Fire. The sense here is trading the pick makes more sense given the Fire’s variety of needs, and the fact that several teams are interested in moving into the top spot.
2- COLORADO RAPIDS – Brandon Vincent, Left Back, Stanford
The Rapids are in dire need of attacking help, but they are prepared to address that deficiency on the international market. Another area of need is left back, where there happens to be a top prospect available in Vincent. The Rapids are more likely to trade this pick, but if they keep it, look for them to take Vincent, though Abu Danladi could prove too tough to pass up.
3- PHILADELPHIA UNION – Abu Danladi, Forward, UCLA
The Union will be hoping that Brandon Vincent slips to this pick, but if he doesn’t, and the Union can snag Danladi, you won’t hear Jim Curtin complain. Danladi is a dynamic striker who could be the most pro-ready offensive player in the draft. Of course, he hasn’t signed a Generation adidas deal yet, and if he’s not available, the Union could grab Jack Harrison and either keep him or deal him to NYCFC.
One scenario to consider is having Joshua Yaro fall to this pick, which is entirely possible if Danladi doesn’t sign and someone (read NYCFC) trades into the top spot to grab Jack Harrison.
4- NEW YORK CITY FC – Jack Harrison, Midfielder, Wake Forest
After failing in their attempt to sign Harrison as a Homegrown Player, it could be tough for Claudio Reyna to pass up the youngest and arguably most promising talent in the draft. Harrison tore up the ACC as a freshman and projects as a box-to-box midfielder, though he could contribute on the right wing as well.
There has been talk of NYCFC trading up to the top spot to grab Harrison, so having him fall to this pick would be a dream scenario or Patrick Vieira’s side. Rumors of impending surgery for Harrison made the rounds on Monday, but as of Tuesday evening he was given a clean bill of health.
5- REAL SALT LAKE – Richie Laryea, Central Midfielder, Akron
Having just lost midfielder Luis Gil to a free transfer, we can see Jeff Cassar grabbing the talented Laryea, who can fit in a number of positions. He’s coming off an outstanding season at Akron that showed his creativity and ability to break down defenses.
6- PHILADELPHIA UNION – Keegan Rosenberry, Right Back, Georgetown
As much as they probably don’t want to use a high draft pick on a player they strongly feel should have been a Homegrown Player for them, the Union might be hard-pressed to let Rosenberry go when he has been so impressive at the Combine. A week ago it would have been considered a reach to take Rosenberry this high. Now? Not so much.
7- ORLANDO CITY – Omar Holness, Right winger/Forward, North Carolina
Phil Rawlins will hope to do as well with this pick as the Lions did with last year’s No. 1, which landed eventual Rookie of the Year Cyle Larin. Holness is versatile enough to help give Orlando City some depth on the wing, as well as in central midfield.
8- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES – Jordan McCrary, Right Back/Left Back, North Carolina
The Earthquakes could be tempted to grab a forward like Ben Polk here, but McCrary is a versatile fullback who can play either side of the field, and the dropoff from him to the other fullbacks in the pool is considerable. Taking a centerback like Jonathan Campbell or Kyle Fisher could happen as well.
9- TORONTO FC – Jonathan Campbell, Centerback, North Carolina
TFC may have already added defensive reinforcements, and also took a pair of central defenders in last year’s draft, but a prospect like Campbell could be too tough to pass up here. Campbell could still be a top 5 pick if the teams higher on the board ignore is combine struggles and judge him on his impressive body of work in college (or if Campbell looks very good on the final day of the combine). If not, TFC could grab him.
10- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION – Julian Buescher, Central Midfielder, Syracuse
The Revs could look to trade up to grab a McCrary or Rosenberry to address the right back situation, but with the Jermaine Jones situation still in limbo, the Revs can grab the best defensive midfielder in the draft in Buescher.
11- SPORTING KANSAS CITY – Ben Polk, Forward, Syracuse
You could make the argument that Polk might be too similar to current Sporting KC forward Dom Dwyer, but the fact remains SKC can use depth in its forward pool and Polk is one of the best available.
12- LA GALAXY – Kyle Fisher, Central Defender, Clemson
The Galaxy aren’t likely to find a player at this spot who will step in and earn significant minutes, but Fisher is the type of player who could help provide some depth in central defense, and could be groomed to eventually be a starter after some years of seasoning. The Galaxy could instead choose to add some more speed to their attack by grabbing Hadji Berry here.
13- D.C. UNITED – Fabian Herbers, Forward, Creighton
The D.C. attack could definitely use some forward depth and if Herbers slips this far you have to think D.C. takes advantage. For a team that doesn’t have a ton of international players, bringing in a German-born Generation adidas player wouldn’t be an issue, and if he lives up to the reputation he earned with his college production, D.C. could have a steal.
14- MONTREAL IMPACT – Hadji Berry, Central Florida, Forward
With Didier Drogba leaving, the Impact suddenly have a need at forward, and while it’s obvious they will need more than a draft pick to replace the legendary striker, landing a dynamic prospect like Berry (the fastest player in the draft) could help give Mauro Biello some options as he waits on the international market to yield a proper replacement. If Berry is gone, the Impact might grab Michael Salazar here.
15- SEATTLE SOUNDERS – Andrew Tarbell, Goalkeeper, Clemson
The Sounders have some needs for depth in defensive midfield, central defense and at left back, but having a chance to grab a Generation adidas player and the clearcut top goalkeeping prospect in the draft pool will prove too much to pass up. If not, the Sounders could grab a Tony Alfaro or Cole Seiler.
16- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS – Eric Verso, Right Midfielder, Stanford
The Whitecaps could use some production on the flanks and Verso is coming off an outstanding year at Stanford, and impressive showing at the combine. His passing touch, relentless effort and ability to take people on make him a good option here.
17- FC DALLAS – Michael Salazar, Forward, UC-Riverside
Though they did add Max Urruti to the squad to help boost a thinning forward pool, adding another good option in Salazar could only give Oscar Pareja more weapons to choose from up top. Salazar hasn’t had the best combine, but is clearly on of the best forwards in the pool.
18- NEW YORK RED BULLS – Tony Alfaro, Centerback, CSU-Dominguez Hills
It is no secret the Red Bulls need depth in central defense, especially if they wind up selling Matt Miazga. Enter Alfaro, a very promising defender with the type of technical skill to be a surprise standout of this draft class.
19- COLUMBUS CREW – Alex Morrell, Right winger/forward, North Florida
The Crew can use some depth at centerback, but instead grab an intriguing prospect in Morrell, a speedy attacker from a small school who turned heads at the combine with his ability to take people on and make things happen in the attack.
20- PORTLAND TIMBERS – Todd Wharton, Defensive Midfielder, Virginia
Given how well the Timbers are doing in replacing those key players they lost this winter, there aren’t many needs for the defending champions. Caleb Porter can afford to grab a player he likes in Wharton, who impressed with the Timbers U-23 team last summer, and has shown well at the Combine.
21- COLUMBUS CREW – Cole Seiler, Centerback, Georgetown
The Crew could use some depth in central defense and Seiler is a polished and tough defender from a top program.
22- COLORADO RAPIDS – Taylor Washington, Left Back, George Mason
The Rapids went into the draft needing help at left back, and Washington was the most impressive left back at the Combine.
23- PHILADELPHIA UNION- Justin Bilyeu, Left Back/Centerback, SIU-Edwardsville
The Union need defensive depth and Bilyeu provides some versatility. He looked equally adept at playing left back and left centerback at the combine.
24- MONTREAL IMPACT – Zach Carroll, Centerback, Michigan State
Mauro Biello’s side can use some defensive depth and Carroll is a strong 6-foot-3 force with good technical ability for his size.
25- REAL SALT LAKE – Michael Gamble, Forward/Winger, Wake Forest
RSL could reach for a central defender, but instead goes with a promising attacker with the potential to emerge as an Ethan Finlay type.
26- HOUSTON DYNAMO – Chase Minter, Central Midfielder, Cal Poly
The Dynamo have been busy shaking up their roster this winter, and one area they could use some new blood in is in central midfield. Minter turned heads at the combine with his work rate and quickness, and may not even be available at this pick.
27- SEATTLE SOUNDERS – James Moberg, Central Midfielder, Washington
The Sounders can use some depth in the middle after the departures of Andy Rose and Gonzalo Pineda, and find a local product who could be a steal if he can regain the form that made him a top prospect a year ago, before injuries struck in 2015.
28- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES – Liam Doyle, Centerback, Ohio State
Dom Kinnear can use some depth in central defense and Doyle is an intriguing prospect. He’s 6-4, and though there are questions about his speed on the turn, he tested very well at the combine and is quicker than you would expect for a player his size.
29- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS – Colin Bonner, Forward, UNC-Wilmington
The Whitecaps haven’t had a true target striker since Kenny Miller went back to Scotland, and while Bonner won’t be needed to step in and start, his combination of size (6-foot-4) and speed (fifth-fastest speed time at the combine) making him an enticing prospect.
30- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION – Dennis Castillo, Right Back/Centerback, VCU
The Revs are light on right back options and Castillo is tough and versatile and capable of contributing minutes there as a rookie.
31- COLUMBUS CREW – Femi-Hollinger Janzen, Forward/Left Winger, Indiana
The Crew could use another left-footed option in attack and Hollinger-Janzen offers the versatility of being able to play as a forward or left winger.
32- ORLANDO CITY – Callum Irving, Goalkeeper, Kentucky
Adrian Heath’s Lions are light on goalkeepers and who better to send to affiliate Louisville for an apprenticeship than a Kentucky product considered the second-best goalkeeper in the draft?
33- CHICAGO FIRE – James Nortey, Forward/Winger, Marquette
After recently dealing away Patrick Nyarko, the Fire find a potential replacement in another Ghanaian-born speedster in Nortey.
34- MONTREAL IMPACT – T.J Casner, Right winger, Clemson
Having lost Justin Mapp to free agency, the Impact could use some depth on the flank and Casner slips a few spots to give the Impact good value at this pick.
35- SEATTLE SOUNDERS – Josh Turnley, Left Back, Georgetown
With Leo Gonzalez gone, the Sounders can use some left back depth and Turnley is the best on the board, having looked solid at the combine and during his senior season for Georgetown.
36- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS – Tsubasa Endoh, Attacking Midfielder, Maryland
Grabbing one of the combine’s most impressive players, and a player who could appeal to the large Asian population in the Vancouver area, makes this pick a potential steal if Endoh can cope with the physicality of the pro level.
37- FC DALLAS – Paul Clowes, Central Midfielder, Clemson
As young as FC Dallas is in central midfield with options like Victor Ulloa and Kellyn Acosta, Oscar Pareja won’t mind adding another prospect to that mix, and Clowes was one of the better central midfielders in college soccer in 2015.
38- NEW YORK RED BULLS – Thomas Libih, Centerback, Cameroon
Though Libih is a youth international, the Red Bulls would do well to finish up with Libih and Alfaro as a pair of young central defenders to try and mold into contributors.
39- MONTREAL IMPACT – Jorginho James, Central Midfielder, Jamaica
Having tabbed players in several other areas of the field, the Impact can go for a project in central midfield in James, who has already been capped by Jamaica’s senior team. A big, athletic and imposing central midfielder player, James hasn’t made the most of the combine, but scouts still consider him an enticing option.
40- PORTLAND TIMBERS – Cole Missimo, Right/Left Winger, Northwestern
The Timbers are sure to hit the international market for a replacement for Rodney Wallace, but they can snag a promising winger in Missimo, who can play on either flank and has good speed and technical quality.
41- COLUMBUS CREW – Emir Alihodzic, Right Back, Omaha
A backup for Harrison Afful would be a good option, and Alihodzic has the dynamic qualities to develop into a first-team player in Gregg Berhalter’s system.
42- LA GALAXY- Ben Strong, Central Midfielder, Louisville
43- COLORADO- Calvin Rezende, Forward, St. Francis (PA)
44- PHILADELPHIA- Patrick Hodan, Attacking Midfielder, Notre Dame
45- FC DALLAS- Josh Heard, Right Winger, Washington
46- REAL SALT LAKE- Timo Pitter, Forward, Creighton
47- HOUSTON- Neco Brett, Forward, Robert Morris
48- ORLANDO CITY- Zach Mathers, Defensive Midfielder, Duke
49- SAN JOSE- Max Lachowecki, Left Back, Notre Dame
50- VANCOUVER- Tyler David, Centerback, Saint Louis
51- NEW ENGLAND- Emmanuel Appiah, Central Midfielder, Cincinnati
52- SPORTING KC- Vincent Keller, Centerback, Creighton
53- LA GALAXY- Tyler Thompson, Defensive Midfielder, Stanford
54- SEATTLE- Mitchell Lurie, Centerback, Rutgers
55- MONTREAL- Chris Hellman, Forward, Lynn
56- TORONTO FC- Zach Bennett, Goalkeeper, Michigan State
57- CHICAGO- Jamie Luchini, Forward, Lehigh
58- FC DALLAS- Darius Madison, Forward, UMBC
59- TORONTO FC- Mikhail Doholis, Right Winger/Left Winger, Oregon State
60- COLUMBUS- Kevaughn Frater, Central Midfielder, Jamaica
61- PORTLAND- Ryan Herman, Goalkeeper, Washington