The first Fox Soccer 2012 MLS Mock Draft (and an in-depth look at the draft pool)

MattHedges (ISIPhotos.com)

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

With the 2012 MLS Draft now less than a month away, I have unveiled my first Fox Soccer 2012 MLS Mock Draft in an attempt to give people a sense of how things just might shake out when teams start making their selections in Kansas City four weeks from now.

My first Fox Soccer MLS Mock Draft didn’t have many surprises, though I did leave in all the top draft prospects, including players who could very well still bolt to Europe. Players like Darren Mattocks, the best bet to pass on MLS and head overseas, as well as Kelyn Rowe, who is in position to make a move to Europe as well. As players sign with MLS, or pass on MLS, the draft board and subsequent mock drafts will be adjusted accordingly.

The first mock draft should look different from what the final mock will ultimately look like in the day or two before the January 12th MLS Draft, but what the initial mock draft should do is provide you with a sense of just where players are being valued by MLS scouts at the moment. Those valuations will change and adjust as we draw closer to the draft, particularly after teams get a closer look at the draft’s best prospects in next month’s MLS Combine. The Combine isn’t the only tool teams use to rank players, but a great combine showing, or a shaky one, can definitely impact draft value.

Here are some more thoughts on the Mock Draft, the potential draft pool, as well as a look at the Generation adidas class as it projects at the moment:

What you will notice about the mock draft is the abundance of attacking midfielders in the first round. This is unique for an MLS draft because the reality is MLS teams haven’t really tapped the college player pool for playmakers with any real frequency. This year’s draft pool is different though, with Kelyn Rowe, Enzo Martinez, Nick DeLeon and Luis Silva all being top quality midfield prospects. The fact that more teams are focused on playing possession soccer should bode well for this group as well.

DeLeon and Silva are among the top seniors MLS is already working hard to sign to pre-draft guaranteed deals. That select group also includes UNC centerback Matt Hedges (pictured above), UConn winger Tony Cascio and Louisville striker Colin Rolfe. The group of senior MLS targets hasn’t changed much, and at the moment, I haven’t been notified if any official signings as of yet, though it appears the senior group has less of the “European clubs are sniffing around” element going on as the Generation adidas standouts.

So what’s the next strongest position in the 2012 draft after attacking midfielder? While it could wind up being forward if Mattocks, Billy Schuler, Chandler Hoffman and either Dom Dwyer, David Opoku or Sam Garza wind up signing, a good position to find value at in this draft is right back, where there are several intriguing prospects. Mykell Bates, Aubrey Perry and R.J. Allen are all highly regarded, and a right back I think has great potential, West Virginia’s Raymon Gaddis, didn’t even make the MLS Combine roster.

The Generation adidas class is far from a finished product, and with top targets like Mattocks and Rowe potentially heading to Europe, we could see a serious shake-up. For one thing, if a player like Mattocks leaves, it could actually free up the money for two players to be added to the class. There is also the almost annual occurrence of late inclusions. We are always good for at least one last-minute addition, like Michael Tetteh last year, so you always have to be ready for a surprise.

As things stand now, here is how the Generation adidas targets stack up based on my conversations with people with knowledge of the selection process (UPDATED-includes which players have been offered GA contracts already, including Sam Garza, the first to accept a GA offer):

  • Andrew Wenger…………..Offered
  • Darren Mattocks………….Offered
  • Kelyn Rowe……………….Offered
  • Billy Schuler………………Offered
  • Enzo Martinez…………….Offered
  • Chandler Hoffman………..Offered
  • Sam Garza………………..ACCEPTED
  • Dom Dwyer……………….Not Offered
  • Brian Span………………..Not Offered
  • Dillon Powers…………….Not Offered
  • Andrew Jean-Baptiste……Not Offered
  • David Opoku……………..Not Offered

You may notice this list already varies from my mock draft’s projected GA class, with Jean-Baptiste dropping. The word I’m getting is that Jean-Baptiste and Opoku have seen their stock drop a bit. If you consider that the GA class should be 6-8 players, both could miss out. That would be a shame, particularly in the case of Opoku, a raw forward who for my money has more upside than most of the other players in the GA prospect pool. I am not nearly as sold on Jean-Baptiste, who for me is still too much of a liability with the ball at his feet. That isn’t stopping prospect from falling in love with his size and athleticism.

Of the very top prospects, it’s safe to say that Wenger will sign with MLS. He hasn’t officially yet, but I would consider it a miracle if he didn’t wind up signing as the top Generation adidas target. The rest of the top prospects aren’t as sure bets. Mattocks, Rowe and Schuler all have European clubs expressing interest, and other prospects such as Opoku and Garza could find opportunities abroad as well, with Mexican clubs already expressing interest in Garza.

There are other GA candidate players who have been mentioned in the past, such as West Virginia’s Eric Schoenle, SMU’s Robbie Derschang, Creighton’s Tyler Polak and Maryland’s Taylor Kemp, but as things stand right now, it would be a serious long shot if any of those players made the final GA cut. That isn’t stopping players from preparing to leave school though. Sources tell me Polak, one of the best left back prospects in the nation, is preparing to leave Creighton. If that is true, just what his next move will be remains a mystery. We could see a situation where a player like Polak winds up signing with MLS after the draft and being allocated via a draft (like David Bingham and Soony Saad). This doesn’t mean that will happen specificially with Polak (who could also transfer schools), but if MLS changes its tune on a player, or finds serious interest post-draft in a prospect, we could see another lottery.

What do you think of the latest MLS draft developments? Which players are you hoping your team can land in the draft? Which prospects are sparking the most interest in your mind?

Share your thoughts below.

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25 Responses to The first Fox Soccer 2012 MLS Mock Draft (and an in-depth look at the draft pool)

  1. J says:

    why would Polak switch schools??? Creightons a powerhouse and he can use Bolowich’s connections across the pond. Cmon Ives

    (SBI-I’m not saying he will. I’m saying he COULD. As in that is an option. If Ben Speas can leave Akron to go to UNC there’s no reason Tyler Polak couldn’t switch schools as well. All that said, I’d bet on him being a pro a few months from now.)

  2. Charles says:

    Nice article. I hope MLS can sign most of these guys.

  3. Edwin in LA says:

    I’ve never really heard of Creighton as a power house?

    Not of recent times at least?

    If he were to move to a school like Maryland, or Wake Forest, UCLA, even UNC and a place even like Akron or Santa Clara who have had recent runs of success then I could see it? It all depends on how they do in retaining players and what the new incoming freshman class like. Akron is a good example not for him to transfer to but how they might be much better after a transition year in which they were coming back with like 6 players lost to the draft

    Interesting thing will be what international players will take part in the draft like Joao Plata at TFC?

  4. BF says:

    The smart ones will not sign with MLS and instead will head to Europe, etc.

  5. Reid says:

    Ives, I think you are spot on with Andrew Jean-Baptiste. Saw quite a few of his games this year. A lot of fun to watch at the college level, but he might need 2-3 more years of college/NASL to get a little more skill to go with his size.

  6. Aquaman says:

    #6’s crane technique is strong, but not as strong as my slightly perturbed cephalopod style.

  7. J says:

    Creighton has been in top 15 consistently last 7 years, and placed its fair share of players into the pro’s (link to mlssoccer.com)

    I understand the move to UCLA or Maryland with ELITE programs but Creighton has Bolowich and he has ties around multiple leagues. Also Tyler is from this area. Do not even see him leaving for another school as a possibility.

    @SBI – Speas was not getting as much as he deserved behind that great Akron talent. No brainer for him to move. Polak was leading minute man at CU. Only thing working against Polak is he was not playing against top notch competition every week.

  8. Hincha Tim says:

    I think RSL is looking for a left back more than a right back. They have Tony Beltran locked in at right back, whereas left back is solid but improveable Chris Wingert. RSL needs a left back that has the capability to provide a wide attacking presence (which Wingert doesn’t).

    Who are the best left back prospects in the draft (including players that might not have played there but could be converted)?

  9. RLW2020 says:

    as much as i would advocate going thru MLS before Europe for 90% of US prospects i wouldn’t advocate going thru the draft.

    Too much randomness, and you could end up in a situation that doesn’t fit right (bad coach, team, or no way to playing time). Being able to select your own future is something i would never give up.

  10. David St. Hubbins says:

    Eric Schoenle’s stock seems to be dropping… does he stay in school for his senior year?

  11. Buddle-icious says:

    Ives, why is Schuler considered a GA prospect while Creighton’s Greg Jordan is considered a non GA prospect when both are red-shirt juniors?

    Seems odd they have a different status.

    Also, the whole situation with Tyler Polak shows why MLS needs to open the draft to any underclassmen who want to be in it.

    (SBI-Jordan isn’t a GA target but as a graduating junior he is eligible to enter the MLS Draft. Schuler would be eligible to enter the draft the same route, but he has the leverage of being a highly-regarded prospect, and can therefore demand a GA contract, which is worth more than a standard senior contract. That is why he’s a GA target and Jordan isn’t.

    As for opening up the draft for all underclassmen. All that would do is lead to having players who aren’t ready to be pros declaring and forfeiting eligibility before they are ready. If Polak is good enough, he’ll get a GA deal. As it stands, he’s not in enough demand to get a GA deal so he should stay in school (or he can try Europe).)

  12. SD says:

    the player needs to have a firm trip on reality…look at how many of our uys have gone overseas after college and haven’t been able to do much…..look at the one’s who have play some mls first……don’t think the college game is stron enough to produce europe quality players….

  13. SD says:

    if your saying that a guy should go to scandinavia instead of mls then i see your point, same experience more money, but even then they sit on the bench for 2 years before anything happens….in mls they MAY have a chance to get games…..

  14. Iam_carey says:

    I REALLY want to see Hoffman get that GA contract. I’m totally biased cuz my son is head over heals for the guy & for UCLA, but even an objective view sees him as a serious contender for that contract!

  15. d.bigley says:

    For all those advacating going right to Europe and skipping the MLS please list the players that really made it (as a soccer player) who did what you say they should do. Never mind the fact that they cannot get into what many say is the best league in the world if they haven’t played x number of games for their country’s national team (the country is England and it’s Barcley’s permier league). If it wasn’t for the MLS and it’s continued improved play those who start here and improve enough (the good ones) will get that opportunity that you speak of. For the fun of it also name the players who went to Europe only to flame out as a player (may have made a higher salary but thats it). Nothing personal against him but tell me all about Freddy Adu and how he tore up the European leagues that he played in and he is not alone.

  16. Turgid Jacobian says:

    A++

  17. timothy says:

    I disagree with this. If you look at players who have gone through MLS drafts, most don’t really make it. I think those who make it in Europe have about the same chances of making it in MLS.

  18. Buddle-icious says:

    Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Eric Lichai, Charlie Davies, Alejandro Bedoya, Paul Stalteri, Rob Friend, Olivier Occean, Luis Robles, Eugene Starikov, Reuben Ayarna, Carlos Ochoa, Vedad Ibisevic, Josh Simpson, among others.

    Not a lot, but it can be done.

  19. Dennis says:

    Ives, MLS is holding its combine in early January. Is there a list of the 52 players who have been invited? It is a lot of names and most of us will know only a few by having actually sen them play, still it might be fun to see who people here think should get a serious look and why.

  20. KL says:

    Most of those players stink.

  21. KL says:

    Oh, another MLS hater. Europe sucks.

  22. KL says:

    Kelyn Rowe is not playing in Europe. He’ll be lucky to ever see a MLS pitch for a couple of years.

  23. Jason says:

    I’d be pretty disappointed if Polak wasn’t in the draft, as I’ve heard good things about him and thought he would be ideal for DC. With him out of the draft, DC’s prospects for drafting a possible starter go way down.

    Ives, have you hear any rumors of Foss getting a homegrown deal from DC? If Polak isn’t available, I could see Olsen going for the talent he knows and then trying to get a forward or midfielder with potential.

  24. Daniel says:

    The most underating player, George mason university player Ryan Gracia,small player with great skill,great vision of the game very smart player.(YouTube,Ryan Gracia). check it out

  25. Giggsy says:

    i will give you cherundolo and gooch … but the others? child please.

    lichaj has done nothing, CD9 came back to MLS, Bedoya is a part time player at Rangers and the Canadians are all mediocre players in the lower leagues of Germany or stuck in Turkey, Starikov? seriously? the constantly on loan to bottom feeder Tom Tomsk?, Ayarna is Ghanaian and still stuck in Scandanavia and Ochoa who is that even?

    face it … most American players who go straight to “europe” from college end up slumming the lower leagues of europe forever or coming back to MLS eventually. MLS first isn’t a cure all mind you but at least it does seem to have launched some good to solid careers in europe (dempsey, howard, guzan, edu, holden).