SBI MLS Mock Draft (Version 2.0)

RodneyWallace (ISIphotos.com) 

                                                                  Photo by ISIphotos.com

One week down and three to go as we slowly move toward the 2009 MLS Draft in St. Louis and every passing week produces more information, more names and more scenarios we could see come draft day on Jan. 15th.

Among the latest developments SBI has been informed about regarding the draft, here are some of the most interesting:

Highly-touted Wake Forest defender Ike Opara, the No. 2 pick in last week's SBI MLS Mock Draft 1.0, is leaning toward staying in school. In a year when several teams are in dire need of a central defender, Opara would be a Top Three lock in this year's draft, with several teams  (FC Dallas among them) ready to do what it takes to move up to take him if he were to come out.

Skilled University of Illinois-Chicago playmaker Baggio Husidic looks set to explore options in Europe rather than signing with MLS. A projected first-rounder (No. 8 in Mock Draft 1.0), Husidic was regarded as the top attacking midfielder in the draft, a distinction that could fall to UCLA's Michael Stephens if Husidic does not sign.

Speaking of Stephens, he is close to finalizing a Generation adidas deal, but has yet to be signed. A creative midfielder who can play on the flank as well as his natural central midfield, joins College Cup MVP Graham Zusi in what is a thin field of attacking midfielders.

Teams looking for fullbacks have received a boost with word that Maryland's Rodney Wallace (pictured) and Indiana's Kevin Alston will both be in the Generation adidas pool. Wallace has signed his deal already and Alston is in the process of signing his.

Here are some more developments, as well as the SBI MLS Mock Draft 2.0, and a new addition to the Mock Draft series, the Draft Best XI, which will track the top players at each position:

If you are wondering why you haven't heard anything about U.S. Under-20 striker Felix Garcia being signed as a Generation adidas player, it is because his rights are owned by the Laredo Heat, which wants a transfer fee if the 17-year-old makes the move to MLS. Also complicating matters is Garcia's desire to be placed with one of the league's Texas teams, FC Dallas or Houston. That combination of issues could keep the talented playmaker out of the draft.

The growing buzz is that Toronto FC is looking to part with some, if not all, of its first-round picks. A team poised to make serious noise in 2009, TFC is looking for veterans who can contribute immediately rather than rookies who will need time to develop. The club also already has three young prospects it rates highly in Abdus Ibrahim, Johann Smith and Brian Edwards, so fitting three more rookies on a roster that only has four developmental roster spots would be difficult.

TFC isn't the only team ready to unload first-round picks. FC Dallas is loaded with young talents to go along with its two first-round draft picks, so don't be surprised to see picks and prospects to move up to a Top 3 spot to try and grab Omar Gonzalez (though I hear Ike Opara is the player they really covet).

Let's get to the mock draft. A few points first. I will not be incorporating potential trades into the mock draft, at least not until the week of the draft. While we may see a boatload of trades before the draft, most deals aren't likely to be made until the week of the draft. Also, for those wondering, the ratings are based on my own research and conversations/interviews with various coaches, scouts and talent evaluators.)

Now, without further ado, here is the the SBI MLS Mock Draft (v 2.0). Enjoy:

2009 SBI MLS Mock Draft (version 2.0)

1. Seattle Sounders- Steve Zakuani, F, Akron

While Tracy has long been considered the top attacking prospect in the draft, there is a growing consensus that Zakuani is the more skilled and polished player. Sources tell me Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid is very high on Zakuani (having no doubt seen him play a few times during his time as Columbus head coach) and will take him if he keeps the No. 1 pick.

2. Toronto FC- Omar Gonzalez, D, Maryland

This pick stands a very good chance of being dealt, with Tracy and Gonzalez the most coveted players by potential trade partners. Toronto could certainly use a central defender and Gonzalez is the best of the bunch. If Mo Johnston uses this pick, you can almost certainly bet that picks No. 4 and 13 will be dealt.

3. Los Angeles Galaxy- Yohance Marshall, D, South Florida

If the draft plays out with Gonzalez off the board, Opara not in the draft and Tracy still on the board, Bruce Arena will have an interesting decision to make. Does he go with the need pick and take Marshall, the consensus best central defender after Opara and Gonzalez? Or does he trade the pick for a package including a player and pick. Even if Gonzalez is available, LA might be tempted by a Dallas package including the No. 5 and a player or allocation, which would allow the Galaxy to still take Marshall.

4. Toronto- Marcus Tracy, F, Wake Forest

So how would Tracy go from top pick material to No. 4? While I don't think he will slide this far (a trade would likely help him land higher) we shouldn't forget that Patrick Nyarko was considered a No. 1 pick candidate before sliding to No. 7 in last year's draft.

5. FC Dallas- Rodney Wallace, D, Maryland

The Hoops are in dire need of a central defender after the disaster that was the Duilio Davino acquisition, but taking one here with Gonzalez and Marshall off the board would be a reach. Dallas can either package a player or two and a pick to move up a few spots to guarantee getting Gonzalez, or it can stay put and grab Wallace, the clear-cut best left back in the draft.

6. D.C. United-Kevin Alston, D, Indiana

Another team that would love to land a center back in this draft, D.C. will be using high picks for the first time in years and will be in position to boost a roster that needs some new blood. With starting right back Brian Namoff out of contract and unsigned, D.C.could suddenly replace him with a younger and more athletic alternative who wouldn't count against the salary cap.

7. D.C. United- Peri Marosevic, F, Michigan

D.C. went for need with its first pick, but will for value with its second pick, selecting the highly-regarded Marosevic, a U.S. Under-20 striker and Generation adidas player. It seems like ages since D.C. had an exciting young striker prospect in the fold and Marosevic would certainly fit that bill. It also wouldn't shock me to see D.C. grab goalkeeper Stefan Frei

8. Kansas City- Michael Stephens, M, UCLA

The Wizards need a boost of creativity from the center of the field and Stephens is the best equipped to provide that. A young American playmaker who would also be free against the cap via a Generation adidas contract, Stephens is just the type of skillful and young talent Curt Onalfo has stock-piled in recent years.

9. Chivas USA- Stefan Frei, GK, California

The Goats have struggled to fill Brad Guzan's shoes since he left and while Dan Kennedy showed some promise, Frei has considerably more upside. Chivas USA could use some help defensively, but with the top defenders off the board, look for Chivas USA to try and recreate the success they had when they drafted Guzan.

10. New England-  Jeremy Hall, M, Maryland

When the Revs let Khano Smith go in the expansion draft, you have to wonder if they could have imagined landing a better replacement than Hall, a speedy and skillful left winger who could help New England fans forget Smith pretty quickly. Another team that could use a defender, the Revs won't be able to pass on Hall and will likely try to address its defensive needs later in the round.

11. Dallas- Sam Cronin, M, Wake Forest

After landing a solid defender with its first of two picks, the Hoops grab the best available central midfielder in Cronin and smart and savvy player with the maturity to step in and play right away.

12. Real Salt Lake- Mike Grella, F, Duke

With a solid defense and set of goalkeepers in place, RSL can focus on trying to find a goal-scorer or wingers and Grella is as proven a striker as there is on the board. The cocky Duke product has been rumored to be itching to give Europe a try, and if he does look for RSL to give UCSB product Chris Pontius a look here.

13. Toronto- O’Brian White, F, UConn

As most folks are aware by now, White is recovering from ACL surgery, a surgery that has scared off plenty of teams as well as MLS itself. If TFC can't find takers for its draft picks, you can bet that Mo Johnston won't be scared to take a flier on a hometown player Toronto FC coveted greatly last year. If he recovers fully from surgery, Toronto could wind up with the steal of the draft.

14. New York- Calum Angus, D, St. Louis

The Red Bulls shopping list this off-season includes both fullback positions, with the club looking for players who can offer better attacking options from those spots. Angus excelled as a central defender for SLU, but should be a fullback on the pro level. Having excelled as a midfielder for his PDL team, Angus brings the versatility Juan Carlos Osorio likes. If Angus doesn't get the call, look for speedy Wake Forest left back Lyle Adams to get serious consideration.

15. New England- Chris Pontius, F/M, UC-Santa Barbara

The Revs have been looking for a reliable goal-scoring option to play alongside Taylor Twellman for some time and Pontius has been a goal-scoring machine for UCSB. New England could go in any number of directions here, be it goalkeeper (hometown kid Zach Simmons), midfielder (College Cup star Graham Zusi) or striker. Pontius has played at forward, in central midfield and on the wing, so he fits a number of needs. Another name to consider is Indiana central midfielder Brad Ring, especially if New England decides to move Jeff Larentowicz to central defense to fill the void left by the departure of Michael Parkhurst.

Mock Draft (v. 2.0) Notes

The two big absences from this Mock Draft are Ike Opara and Baggio Husidic. As I stated above, sources tell me Opara is leaning toward staying in school while Husidic is believed to be preparing to test the waters in Europe. If Opara is simply posturing for a better Generation adidas deal then he obviously vaults into the Top Three. Husidic would also stand a very good chance of being a Top 10 pick of he entered the draft.

Players missing from the mock draft who could easily be in the first round are Graham Zusi and Michael Lahoud. Zusi was in last week's mock draft and was in this one as well until the very end of my tinkering. Lahoud was also close to staying in, and I had him going to the Red Bulls, but the Red Bulls are more likely to go defense with its first-round pick.

Now, here is the formation of the best players in the draft at every position (with right wing being the one position with no true standout. Pontius can play there and gets the nod):

MLS Draft Best XI (Version 1.0)

———-Marcus Tracy———–Steve Zakuani————-

———————-Michael Stephens————————

Jeremy Hall————————————-Chris Pontius

————————-Sam Cronin—————————

Rodney Wallace———————————Kevin Alston

————Omar Gonzalez—-Yohance Marshall———–

————————Stefan Frei—————————-

—————————————————————–

The next SBI MLS Mock Draft will come on Jan. 1, New Year's Day. For now, feel free to share your thoughts on all of these developments and the version 2.0 of the mock draft in the comments section below.

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS Draft 2009. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to SBI MLS Mock Draft (Version 2.0)

  1. Amit says:

    I’ve got it. How about pick #14 and the rights to Peter Canero for pick #4!

  2. Eugene says:

    I agree with the idea that the Red Bulls will take an outside back in the first round, but I don’t know if it would be Angus.

    I was thinking more on the lines of Sheanon Williams, since he would be a GA and is a bit younger. Angus and Lyle Adams would also be interesting, along with Rodney Wallace or Kevin Alston if they fall.

    It would be key to get someone who is fast, has good technical skills and can defend well in addition to being able to contribute going forward.

  3. bellbj8 says:

    yeah lyle adams (WFU outside back) is solid a real play maker who can take guys on inside and outside the box

  4. Kaiser says:

    Ives,

    Is there a chance LA could deal the #3 pick to Dallas for the #6 and #11 picks? Dallas could grab Tracy to replace Cooper (if he leaves) and LA could pick up 2 solid players.

    Also, do you see LA dealing Jazic to Toronto? He probably has more value there than anywhere else.

    Merry Christmas!

  5. Ossington Mental Youth says:

    No need for Jazic, already got plenty of players in that position with the same or more talent. If we do take Jazic off your hands itll be for noubt (considering what we got DeRo for)

    Happy Christmas Ives and Readers!

  6. Ossington Mental Youth says:

    Pretty excited and curious to see what we will be getting IF we trade off those draft picks.

  7. Travis says:

    I like seeing DC having 2 back to back picks in the first round. I’m tired of the veterans, the new blood will definitely do us some good. I have a soft spot for Cronin, but I would not be unhappy with the picks you predict here.

  8. Eugene says:

    “If you are wondering why you haven’t heard anything about U.S. Under-20 striker Felix Garcia being signed as a Generation adidas player, it is because his rights are owned by the Laredo Heat, which wants a transfer fee if the 17-year-old makes the move to MLS. Also complicating matters is Garcia’s desire to be placed with one of the league’s Texas teams, FC Dallas or Houston. That combination of issues could keep the talented playmaker out of the draft.”

    I really hope either Houston or Dallas pays the transfer fee and takes this kid (without making the situation more complicated or difficult). Dallas has already taken a look at him, but may not want more youth on an already young team.

    Garcia likely wants to stay close to home because he just had a baby. Given the situation, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Mexican teams like Monterrey, Tigres or Santos, all relatively close to Laredo, taking a hard look at this kid and possibly beating MLS to his signature given that they’re likely more willing to pay transfer fees and they would be closer to home for Garcia. They may also be willing to pay him a bigger salary if he would have to go the non-GA route in MLS.

    It would be a shame to see one of the more talented kids in the U-20 pool going to Mexico to get to the next level professionally rather than go to MLS. Hopefully he would keep his international allegiance to the U.S. if this happened.

    IMO, MLS really needs to get Garcia into the league rather than lose him.

  9. jig says:

    opara MUST be angling for a better deal, right? is there any other reason he would not come out?

  10. onionsack says:

    so unimpressed with the draft class and these NCAA players in general.

  11. Dave Clark says:

    Zakuani would seem to be the guy that Seattle should trade down to acquire.

    Opara, Gonzalez and Tracy seem to be hands down the top talents and only ones worthy of going number one.

    If Seattle is bent on having someone not those three, they should trade with TFC, FCD or the Galaxy. While MLS doesn’t have slotting (MLB, NBA, NFL) there are certain expectations, and Seattle could use some allocation money these days.

  12. David says:

    Does anyone know if New Jersey natives Nelson Becerra from St. John’s or Bryan Matinez from Seton Hall will be entering the draft? Two very highly skilled central midfield players..better than most I’ve seen in college soccer.

  13. VPjr says:

    If Opera isn’t angling for more money, then he’s just plain stupid…Clearly he doesn’t have a lot of leverage but going back to school rather than accepting a Gen Adidas deal would be nuts.

    The O’brien White story should be a case study for NCAA soccer players in how NOT to make career decisions.

    If the money is on the table, take it. It won’t be much better next year and who knows what another season of college soccer will do to your knees, ankles, etc…Opera got a national title and now its time to go pro.

  14. Steponhens says:

    Why should Opara come out? He is only a sophomore and still has another year to get generation adidas money. The style Wake Forest plays is much more fun to play in than the style of most MLS teams. Besides, he would most likely be drafted by A) an expansion team, or B) the train wreck that is FCD. Throw in the fact that most MLS teams do not like to play rookies and the elimination of the reserve league and there is a good chance minutes would be limited. If he waits a year he will be that much closer to graduation, can still get generation adidas money, is guaranteed playing time, and if he wants to a better chance to go to europe and I can’t argue too much with staying in school. Also, doesn’t the Collective Bargaining Agreement end after next season? If it does what is the point in playing professional for one season and being stuck in a strike if it comes to that? If he stays he can see how the negotiations play out and go to Europe if the league does not reach an agreement.

    With that said I think he is ready to come out this year and would not say he made a bad choice if he decides to enter the draft. But I can see why he would stay in school.

  15. KingSnake says:

    Does a “better ‘Generation Adidas’ deal” consist of a Happy Meal to go with the 13k salary?

  16. Frog says:

    Actually “Generation Adidas” deals are much better than other rookie and developmental contracts.

  17. the scout says:

    There is no way LA is going to draft a non-GA center half at #3, and especially not Yohance Marshall – who might be the 4th best senior at that position.

    If Opara stays in school and Gonzalez projects at #2, it is a no brainer that LA trades Jazic to Toronto for one of the first round picks and drafts Wallace at #3.

  18. Paul says:

    Remember this name….Davide Hertel. Left back from Big Ten regular season and tournament champion Michigan State. Keep your eye on him at the Combine. He may not be a first rounder but he is very impressive.

  19. Al17 says:

    “If you are wondering why you haven’t heard anything about U.S. Under-20 striker Felix Garcia being signed as a Generation adidas player, it is because his rights are owned by the Laredo Heat, which wants a transfer fee if the 17-year-old makes the move to MLS. Also complicating matters is Garcia’s desire to be placed with one of the league’s Texas teams, FC Dallas or Houston. That combination of issues could keep the talented playmaker out of the draft.”

    I really hope either Houston or Dallas pays the transfer fee and takes this kid (without making the situation more complicated or difficult). Dallas has already taken a look at him, but may not want more youth on an already young team.

    Garcia likely wants to stay close to home because he just had a baby. Given the situation, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Mexican teams like Monterrey, Tigres or Santos, all relatively close to Laredo, taking a hard look at this kid and possibly beating MLS to his signature given that they’re likely more willing to pay transfer fees and they would be closer to home for Garcia. They may also be willing to pay him a bigger salary if he would have to go the non-GA route in MLS.

    It would be a shame to see one of the more talented kids in the U-20 pool going to Mexico to get to the next level professionally rather than go to MLS. Hopefully he would keep his international allegiance to the U.S. if this happened.

    IMO, MLS really needs to get Garcia into the league rather than lose him.

    Posted by: Eugene | December 25, 2008 at 04:24 PM

    Eugene,
    I may be wrong on this one but under FIFA rules you’ve got to be 18 years old in order to sign a Pro contract anywhere in the world. MLS can wait til his 18th birthday and essentially sign him w/o having to pay a transfer fee to anyone. I need to double check the rule but I believe the rule is along those lines.

  20. Northzax says:

    Al17:

    Nope. You have to be 18 to sign a pro contract outside your home federation (in Garcia’s case the US) I don’t know what the bottom line is for players at home, remember Jozy was 17 when he signed with NYRB, Adu was 14, Quaranta and Convey were 16.

  21. Zachy T says:

    COME ON YOU WHITES!!!!
    DEMPSEY SCORES AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. ISAAC says:

    Dempsey equalizes! 2-2

  23. ISAAC says:

    ok ok

    Dempsey scores off a set piece to put Fulham forward.

    Then Lampard scores off a scrappy move in the run of play.

    Then Lampard scores off a BRILLIANT free kick to put Chelsea forward.

    Then Dempsey scores off a set piece to equalize in the 89th.

    Good game.

  24. stephen says:

    “… skillful left winger who could help New England fans forget Smith pretty quickly.”

    I think most Revs fans forgot about Khano long ago. Wishing to do so even before he left.