SBI MLS Draft Big Board (Version 1.0)

Ike Opara 2 (ISIphotos.com)

The 2010 MLS Draft is still five weeks away, and while some of the best prospects expected to be available in the draft are still completing their college seasons, fans have already started to consider what their teams might be doing when the draft arrives.

It isn't too early to start thinking about the talent that will be available, and if the 2009 draft showed us anything, it is that quality MLS starters can be found among the players coming out of the college ranks. The upcoming draft may not produce the numer of instant impact starters that last year's draft did, but the 2010 draft is shaping up to be an even better draft for attacking players.

Each week from now until the MLS Draft we will be running the SBI MLS Draft Big Board, listing the Top 25 draft prospects. For now, the list will include underclassmen who have yet to sign with MLS, but who are being targeted by MLS. We have consulted with coaches, team officials, scouts and players to come up with a list that we hope will closely measure where players are ranked heading into the draft. We will be tweaking the list from week to week so be sure to track the changes as they happen.

If you are not too familiar with the college game, but would like to see some of the best prospects play, you will have your chance on Friday, when the top four players on our Big Board, including Wake Forest's Ike Opara (pictured), take the field in the College Cup semifinals (airing on ESPNU).

Now, onto our first edition of the SBI 2010 MLS Draft Big Board:


SBI 2010 MLS Draft Big Board

(*Underclassman)

1. IKE OPARA*, Wake Forest, D

A prototypical central defender with an impressive combination of speed and size. Woul have been a Top Three pick in 2009 draft, is a lock to be top two pick, assuming he signs which MLS, which most folks believe he will.

2. CORBEN BONE*, Wake Forest, M/F

The most dangerous attacking player in the draft, Bone is a dynamic playmaker with great vision and a terrific motor. Has played predominantly on the wing for Wake Forest, but he's

3. TEAL BUNBURY*, Akron, F

MLS is chasing this sophomore hard, and with good reason. He's got the size-speed (6-foot-2) combo at forward that clubs love, and maybe most technically gifted striker in the class. A guaranteed high pick if he comes out, could potentially be the No. 1 overall pick.

4. TONY TCHANI*, Virginia, M

Tchani's season started slowly due to injuries, but no player has boosted their stock more in the past month than Tchani. A 6-foot-4 playmaker who combines strength, a deft passing touch and goal-scoring ability, Tchani is at the top of some team's draft boards.

5. DANNY MWANGA*, Oregon State, F

Possesses similar size-speed combination to Bunbury, and regarded by some as the more athletic prospect. Produced 14 goals this season. MLS is in hot pursuit, but sources tell SBI that the Congolese-born Mwanga is not a lock to sign with MLS and will go on trials in France this winter before returning for his junior season at OSU if no offers are made.

6. ANDREW WIEDEMAN*, California, F

A productive goal scorer in the mold of Taylor Twellman, Wiedeman is considered polished enough to play minutes in MLS now and could be seen as a year-one contributor at forward.

7. TONI STAHL,  UConn, M

Strong, smart and technically sound, Stahl is widely-regarded as the best defensive midfielder in the draft and potentially someone who can step in and start in year one like Sam Cronin did for Toronto FC. He has signed a deal with MLS, which will only increase his value.

8. AMOBI OKUGO*,  UCLA, M

The nation's best freshman is also one of the players whose stock has increased the most in recent weeks. He's still just 18, and could stay in school since he's just a freshman, but MLS teams are already drooling over his box-to-box midfielder tools and upside.

9. DILLY DUKA*,  Rutgers, M

Regarded by many as the most impressive of the U.S. Under-20 World Cup participants, Duka boasts good skill, touch and a surprising bite for his small size. The questions that plague him surround his upside, and just what is his ceiling.

10. LUIS GIL*, U.S. Under-17, M

One of the more enticing long-term prospects in the pool. Gil is just 16, but he's a bundle of skill who could blossom into a star if he's groomed properly. The question is where in the draft do you take a yong talent who is a few years away from contributing? He has been approached with an offer by MLS but has yet to sign.

11. ANDRE AKPAN, Harvard, F

An experienced and polished forward who has been linked with moves to MLS for years, Akpan could be the victim of a slide in the draft if MLS succeeds in signing all the Generation adidas targets it has in mind. That won't stop Akpan from being a first round pick, or from potentially being this class' Chris Pontius.

12. JACK McINERNEY*,  U.S. Under-17, F

While Dilly Duka's stock jumped after the Under-20 World Cup, McInerney's dropped. That said, he's still an exciting prospect with a nose for goal and good touch and moves. If he signs a Generation adidas deal then it will be interesting to see who takes a chance on him given the fact that he isn't going to help right away. There are other more experienced players on the board who could go higher if teams are looking for help right away, but McInerney is still a quality prospect some teams will look to pounce on early, if he accepts the Generation adidas contract he has been offered.

13. AUSTIN DA LUZ, Wake Forest, M

14. ZACH SCHILAWSKI,  Wake Forest, F

15. OFORI SARKODIE, Indiana, D

16. KYLE NAKAZAWA, UCLA, M

17. KWAME WATSON-SIRIBOE, UConn, D

18. SEAN JOHNSON*, Central Florida, GK

19. MICHAEL TETTAH*, UCSB, M

20. ALAN SANCHEZ, NC State, M/F

21. NELSON BECERRA, St. John’s, M

22. BRIAN PERK, UCLA, GK

23. MICHAEL STEPHENS, UCLA, M

24. PHIL EDGINGTON, Louisville, D

25. JOVAN BUBOJNA, Illinois-Chicago, GK 

—————-

What do you think of the list? Excited to see this much talent potentially being available in the draft? Which players are you hoping your team takes? Which players are you surprised not to see on the list?

Share your thoughts  on The Big Board below.

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43 Responses to SBI MLS Draft Big Board (Version 1.0)

  1. rambo says:

    Can anyone tell me which players are not US citizens?

  2. GauchoTilliDie says:

    I doubt and hope that no Gaucho will leave early being that UCSB hosts the College Cup next year.

    Ives, where are do you place David Walker and Martin Hadevag? I know they probably won’t go in the first round unless they have an amazing combine

  3. Lieutenant in Sam's Army says:

    I’m pretty sure Ofori Sarkodie goes to Indiana.

    (SBI-Yes, he does. Lots of names to deal with, so I swapped his school with someone lower on the list. Hope no IU or OSU people were offended.)

  4. NCStateFan says:

    Interesting that you added Alan Sanchez, when he was invited to the draft combine. I agree with your ranking im just wondering if there was any reason on why he wasnt invited?

    (SBI-Not sure what the deal is with him. I will try to find out.)

  5. NCStateFan says:

    was not invited…

  6. Timmy says:

    I believe that Bunbury is Canadian, Tchani is from Cameroon, and Mwanga is Congolese. Other than that, I think the rest of the top 15 are US Citizens.

  7. futbolero says:

    Over in Oregon, all the talk is about how Danny hates it at OSU. not sure if he is coming back, but i would like it, if he did. he’s by far OSU’s best player.

  8. Kyle says:

    Corben’s had a bit of an off season this year for Wake, but I think that’s due mostly to Austin da Luz’s improved play and Corben’s move to the wing. He’s alway’s been much better in a central role where he can really spray the ball around – as a freshman and sophomore at Wake, he was tremendous doing this. I believe he set the NCAA record for assists last year, but someone can check me on that.

  9. kmaxhokie says:

    Toni Tchani is nasty, I went to high school with him and my brother played on the soccer team with him. There would be games where he would just dribble circles around the other team. As a hokie im upset he went to UVA but it would be cool to see him playing in the pros.

  10. geoffersen says:

    Ives, could you please include the nationality or nationalities of the players in future articles? It would be nice to know which ones to watch, from a USMNT perspective.

  11. Sean M says:

    Hoping Irvin Garcia at UCI will make the draft,if not I think he is good enough to play and maybe even start for a USL team….the guy is built like Messi and is just go fast and has such a great touch,he was often double marked when playing

  12. GY says:

    Ives, where did Michael TETTAH come from? Do your sources say he’s being looked at or what? From what I heard all underclassmen at UCSB are staying around in order to win the College Cup on their own home field next year.

    (SBI-The underclassmen on the list aren’t players who are definitely coming out, but rather the underclassmen who are the most coveted and most likely to be approached about coming out (many have already been approached). Tettah may not come out, and may not even be offered if MLS gets all the other high-level underclassmen. Let’s face it though, if they get a solid offer to leave, I’m not sure whether a player is going to pass on a pro deal for an NCAA Tournament run.)

  13. Cyrus says:

    Bunbury’s mother is American. Though he’s played for Canada at the youth level(and his father played for the full nats), he is eligible to play for USA.

  14. ? says:

    A valuable piece of information. Ives, would you mind providing such information in the future?

  15. joshua says:

    Would Teal Bunbury be the first second-generation MLS player? Dad Alex played for KC at the end of his career.

    No, Michael Bradley and Kenny Arena don’t count.

    (SBI-SHhhh. I was going to be the first to point that out. Wanted to wait a while before making everybody feel real old.)

  16. lorenz says:

    i’m canadian and when i went to portugal i discovered the only things portuguese have to say to canadians is “very cold there”, “you hate america, yes?”, and “ahh, alex bunbury, good man.”

  17. RSLChodilicus says:

    Youth Academy question. I am fairly sure that Danny Mwanga played on the RSL youth academy team that did so well in the European tournament. I believe that the rules have changed to allow MLS teams to sign up to 2 players from their academies. So does RSL have the option of signing this kid without him going into the draft?

    Sorry if this is a stupid question but I struggle to understand the MLS rules especially with the draft and youth academies. It seems that the draft should be strictly a college draft and that youth academy players should be different. I think that the lack of established youth academies and more importantly rules and incentives for teams to develop young players is a huge problem with MLS.

    (SBI-Under the MLS guidelines, players have to have been in a team’s youth academy for a certain amount of time before college. As far as I know, Mwanga wasn’t with RSL long enough to even be close to considered an RSL academy player.)

  18. Jason says:

    If Porter becomes DC’s coach, I wonder if he tries to make a move for Bunbury. DC could definitely use another forward, and I see Porter as someone who might value certain college players that he has coached (Akron, Indiana) or has admiration for.

  19. south says:

    He’s a beast of a player. Technique, Workrate, Vision.

    Played against him here in Dallas and he’s always been a level above. Best player out of the area IMO. He’s a nice guy too.

    Played against Omar too, he was always so dominant at lower age groups because he was 6’5 when he was about 15.

  20. M says:

    Opara was the WORST player on the U-20 National Team. How does he get to be the #1 pick?

    (SBI-That’s a bit much, he wasn’t close to being the worst player on the U-20s, but you’re entitled to your opinion.)

  21. Isaac says:

    6. ANDREW WIEDEMAN*, California, F

    A productive goal scorer in the mold of Taylor Twellman, Wiedeman is considered polished enough to play minutes in MLS now and could be seen as a year-one contributor at forward.

    New England…..ALL Over this joint.

    but really, it looks to be a goo draft this year, hopefully we see some year one contributors as good as last year.

  22. Nick says:

    I hope you are referring to Corben’s age group in regards to the best players out the Dallas area, because if not, you are forgetting a guy by the name of Dempsey. And on top of that Akpan will have a better career than Bone – in a closer age bracket.

  23. Kanell17 says:

    Toni Stahl will be the new Jeff Larentowicz for the Revs, but possibly better . . . I loved watching this kid for UConn . . .

  24. south says:

    Yea I referring to age group, lumped Omar into that.

    Akpan is a beast, he was age group above me but could watch him play before/after my league games.

    The forward pool is big, he’s a player the U.S. has a lot of, strong, fast, athletic.

    Corben’s soccer IQ is, IMO, in another level compared to most, I think in a few years time he will be the motor of whatever team he is on.

  25. jms says:

    I played highschool with corben and I fully agree. He’s just always a few steps ahead of everyone on the field in terms of awareness.

  26. WK says:

    i hope our best and brightest U-17′s go abroad. i mean which club in north america has a reserve system that even comes close to being what they need at that age- maybe Crystal Palace?

    am excited to see a number of attacking prospects in this group, if they all come out. Earthquakes have the #3 pick in every round, and 3 total in round 2!

  27. Stephen says:

    I agree with Ives. Not anywhere near the worst player.

  28. M says:

    Ok, lets examine his performance. Against Germany, he lost his man twice (2 of the 3 goals given up). Against Cameroon, he gave up a clumsy penalty. Against South Korean college students, he gave up two penalties and got sent off for clumsy challenges. To me, that’s the worst a defender could do.

  29. M says:

    Plus his head looks like a giant penis

  30. dunbar says:

    Luis Gil and jack Mac need to go to Europe, they can always come back to mls like kenny cooper because their development system is much better than ours

  31. Reid says:

    Luckily he negotiated his contract already so that the revs can’t low ball him.
    And I hope he doesn’t go to NE, that would be a downgrade in game day attendance compared to UCONN

  32. RSF says:

    Haha well played. Yea watching him at UConn I was really impressed by the kid. I’ve been hoping the Revs would get him but I feel like he might miss them with the #9 pick. Will probably go before that

  33. Tim F. says:

    Anyone else coming out from Akron who might be trying to play in MLS?

  34. Timmy says:

    Thanks Cyrus – didn’t realize Bunbury’s mother was American…just knew of his (and his dad’s) Canadian connection.

  35. PolishPete says:

    So Ives who you think would be a perfect pick for red bulls

  36. JP says:

    that’s the funniest and most true statement I’ve heard in a long time.

  37. Kyle says:

    I belive its 2 years in a mls academy. Thats how Chivas USA signed Cezar Zamora

  38. Colin says:

    Why bother?

  39. PortlandBorn says:

    Danny has been a youth player with the Westside Metros Internationals of Oregon 2006 to Present, WSM Internationals were the 2009 Region IV Champions and USYS National Finalists at U18. RSL youth team- was in need of some help going to Spain and asked if Danny could guest play with their group for 3 games. Hardly a case for an RSL Acadmey player. But, a smart move to bring him to Spain–he changed their fortunes with goal scoring and assists.

  40. A says:

    I agree opara was a nightmare for the 20s. a phenomenal athlete but not a good soccer player. if he hadn’t given up the penalty against korea and gotten a red card against korea the US may have gone through instead of costa rica on the wild card. then he was part of the reason they lost tonight against virginia. he could become a better soccer player and athletically he is phenomenal but right now I wouldn’t even call him a first rounder. plus I think he looks more like a velociraptor than a penis

  41. Aljarov says:

    Opara is a very good prospect, but his U20 WC was very, very disappointing.

    Still don’t understand where Barry Rice is? Not at the combine, and not ona top 25 draft board, despite being a top 5 senior prospect at the beginning of the season and being named today to the All-American 2nd team (along with the likes of Toni Stahl, who is already signed with MLS).

    (SBI-Al, funny you mention Rice. I actually had Rice around 23rd on my Big Board before hearing that he wasn’t going to the Combine. I will look into what is up with him and see why he’s not going.)

  42. Chris says:

    Where is Nick Cardenas out of San Diego State on this list? He is 6’5″,210lbs, athletic, and soccer smart. I haven’t seen him on a lot of boards. Is it because he played on an average team?