The 2016 MLS Draft is just hours away, and while we still don’t know what trades may go down to shake up the first round, we can take one final look at how Thursday’s draft proceedings might go.
The final SBI MLS Mock Draft does discuss potential trade scenarios, but this rundown is based on a draft with no trades, which we all know isn’t what will happen.
We base these picks on draft position, player value, team needs and information gathered both at the MLS combine and from conversations with coaches and general managers.
Here is the final SBI MLS Mock Draft for the 2016 MLS 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. If the Fire trade this pick, Jack Harrison should be the first player taken.
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.
3- PHILADELPHIA UNION – Jack Harrison, Midfielder, Wake Forest
The Union will be disappointed to see Vincent off the board and will have no choice but to grab the most talented player available in Harrison. Though the sense all week had been that Philadelphia won’t trade this pick, the Union could find themselves fielding strong offers for Harrison.
4- NEW YORK CITY FC – Omar Holness, Right winger/Forward, North Carolina
Look for Claudio Reyna to do everything possible to land Harrison, including trading up to the top spot. If NYCFC is stuck at four, Holness wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize. Patrick Vieira probably came away impressed with what he saw from the young Jamaican at the Combine. Don’t be surprised if NYCFC reaches for a defender like Jordan McCrary.
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 – Ben Polk, forward, Syracuse
Adrian Heath was probably hoping to be able to land Holness or Laryea but won’t mind settling for the Dom Dwyer clone in Polk. Though Orlando City is stacked at the striker position with Cyle Larin and Bryan Rochez, Polk is versatile enough to play on the left wing and also provides insurance in the event Orlando eventually sells one of its other forwards.
8- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES – Jordan McCrary, Right Back/Left Back, North Carolina
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. Though he struggled at the Combine, Campbell’s impressive body of work in college should be enough to convince TFC to take him ahead of the likes of Kyle Fisher, Zach Carroll and Tony Alfaro.
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 – Tony Alfaro, Centerback, CSU-Dominguez Hills
With no real glaring needs, Sporting KC can afford to take a player who might be a bit more of a long-term project in Alfaro, who really impressed at the Combine. A skilled left-footed centerback, Alfaro is the top centerback target among teams that like to build out of the back.
12- LA GALAXY – Andrew Tarbell, Goalkeeper, Clemson
If Alfaro is available, look for the Galaxy to grab the local product, but since he’s gone, the Galaxy go for value by grabbing Andrew Tarbell. His Generation adidas status helps the Galaxy’s salary cap situation, and they can also turn around and trade Tarbell to one of the many teams who covet the All-American goalkeeper.
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 – Michael Salazar, Forward, UC-Riverside
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 Salazar could help give Mauro Biello some options as he waits on the international market to yield a proper replacement. If Salazar is gone, the Impact might grab Hadji Barry here.
15- SEATTLE SOUNDERS – Eric Verso, Right Midfielder, Stanford
With the departures of Marco Pappa and Lamar Neagle, the Sounders can use some depth on the wing. After having one of the more impressive showings at the Combine, Verso makes sense. It also doesn’t hurt that he is the former college teammate of Jordan Morris. Seattle could also go centerback with Kyle Fisher or Zach Carroll.
16- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS – Hadji Barry, Forward, Central Florida
The Whitecaps love speed and taking the fastest player in the draft makes sense, especially since Barry can be used on the wings. With Darren Mattocks’ days in Vancouver likely numbered, Barry can also offer cover at forward. Carl Robinson could also be tempted to secure some centerback depth by grabbing Kyle Fisher.
17- FC DALLAS – Kyle Fisher, Centerback, Clemson
Oscar Pareja will be hoping to see either Salazar or Barry slip this far, but since neither does, he grabs an excellent value in Kyle Fisher.
18- NEW YORK RED BULLS – Zach Carroll, Centerback, Michigan State
It is no secret the Red Bulls need depth in central defense, especially if they wind up selling Matt Miazga. Enter Carroll, who is the best centerback on the board.
19- COLUMBUS CREW – Alex Morrell, Right winger/forward, North Florida
The Crew can use some depth at centerback, but with all the top central defenders already taken, the Crew 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. The Crew could be tempted to grab a local product in Ohio State centerback Liam Doyle or Georgetown’s Cole Seiler
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 showed well at the Combine. Wharton also signed a senior deal on Wednesday, which suggests he will go in the first round.
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 – Chase Minter, Central Midfielder, Cal Poly
Having addressed left back in the first round, the Rapids can grab some central midfield depth in Minter, one of the players most talked about after his Conbine showing.
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 – Liam Doyle, Centerback, Ohio State
The Impact could use depth at centerback, and although many have been taken, Doyle isn’t a bad consolation prize. The 6-4 defender posted surprisingly impressive speed times, though their are questions about his speed on the turn.
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 – Taylor Washington, Left Back, George Mason
With DaMarcus Beasley set to turn 34 this season, the Dynamo grab a potential successor at left back in Washington, who quietly posted one of the more impressive overall Combine performances.
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. A first-round talent when healthy, Moberg could slide this far if enough teams overlook the fact that the MLS Combine was his first action in months.
28- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES – Dennis Castillo, Right Back/Centerback, VCU
Dom Kinnear can use some depth in central defense, but with all of the top centerback prospects taken, he may have to settle for a centerback/fullback hybrid in Castillo. Though smallish for a central defender, Castillo is tough, good on the ball and can also provide depth at right back.
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 – Tyler David, Centerback, Saint Louis
Though the Revs need help at right back, all of the top options are taken at this point. The Revs can also use some depth in central defense and David boosted his draft stock with a strong showing at the Combine.
31- COLUMBUS CREW – Thomas Libih, Centerback, Cameroon
Having already parted ways with Emanuel Pogatetz, the Crew could us some defensive depth and Libih was arguably the most impressive of the youth internationals at the Combine.
32- ORLANDO CITY – Callum Irving, Goalkeeper, Kentucky
Adrian Heath’s Lions are light on goalkeepers and can bring in Irving to either compete for a roster spot in 2016 or be allowed to develop at affiliate Louisville City, a club Orlando City is expected to maintain ties with. The fact that Irving secure a senior deal makes you wonder who might be targeting him as a first round pick (Toronto FC?).
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 – Rodrigo Saravia, Central Midfielder, Florida Gulf Coast
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 Saravia has already been capped by the Guatemalan national team and quietly turned heads at the combine.
38- NEW YORK RED BULLS – Femi Hollinger-Janzen, Forward/Winger, Indiana
The Red Bulls could use another left-footed option in their attack and Hollinger-Janzen is versatile enough to play wide or offer depth at forward.
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- Paul Clowes, Central Midfielder, Clemson
43- COLORADO- Calvin Rezende, Forward, St. Francis (PA)
44- PHILADELPHIA- Ben Strong, Central Midfielder, Louisville
45- FC DALLAS- Neco Brett, Forward, Robert Morris
46- REAL SALT LAKE- Max Lachowecki, Left Back, Notre Dame
47- HOUSTON- Emmanuel Appiah, Central Midfielder, Cincinnati
48- ORLANDO CITY- Kevaughn Frater, Right Winger, Jamaica
49- SAN JOSE- Ivan Magalhaes, Centerback, Maryland
50- VANCOUVER- Mitchell Lurie, Centerback, Rutgers
51- NEW ENGLAND- Zach Mathers, Defensive Midfielder, Duke
52- SPORTING KC- Timo Pitter, Forward, Creighton
53- LA GALAXY- Vincent Keller, Centerback, Creighton
54- SEATTLE- Chris Hellman, Forward, Lynn
55- MONTREAL- Zach Bennett, Goalkeeper, Michigan State
56- TORONTO FC- Jamie Luchini, Forward, Lehigh
57- CHICAGO- Patrick Hodan, Attacking Midfielder, Notre Dame
58- FC DALLAS- Darius Madison, Forward, UMBC
59- TORONTO FC- Josh Heard, Right Winger, Washington
60- COLUMBUS- Thomas Sanner, Forward, Princeton
61- PORTLAND- Ryan Herman, Goalkeeper, Washington