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The latest Fox Soccer MLS Draft Big Board is out, and with six weeks to go, there have been plenty of changes to the list of Top 25 prospects heading into Janaury's MLS Draft.
The very top of the Big Board is largely unchanged, with Duke's Andrew Wenger and Akron's Darren Mattocks remaining at the top, with UCLA's Kelyn Rowe and North Carolina's Billy Schuler following them.
The serious changes took place after the top ten, where some strong performances in the second half of the NCAA season helped catapult several prospects in the yes of MLS scouts. UCLA's Chandler Hoffman has seen his stock soar, while players like Robbie Derschang and Eric Schoenle have seen their stock drop.
Here are some more notes on the 2012 MLS Draft pool, including how the Generation adidas candidates currently rank, and who the next 15 players are on the draft radar:
Let us start with the Generation adidas class. The class is usually pretty close to finalized at this time of year, but there is much more uncertainty about the lower portion of the class, with several candidates in the mix for the 8-10 Generation adidas contracts expected to be offered.
Here is the current ranking, which we have ascertained via communications with several people with detailed knowledge of the selection process:
1. Andrew Wenger, Duke
2. Darren Mattocks, Akron
3. Kelyn Rowe, UCLA
4. Billy Schuler, North Carolina
5. Enzo Martinez, North Carolina
6. Brian Span, Virginia
7. David Opoku, UCSB
8. Andrew Jean-Baptiste, UConn
9. Chandler Hoffman, UCLA
10. Dom Dwyer, South Florida
11. Sam Garza, UCSB
12.Dillon Powers, Notre Dame
13.Eric Schoenle, West Virginia
14.Robbie Derschang, SMU
Some thoughts on this list:
The Top Five on this list are in bold and that is the group that we can call Generation adidas locks IF they sign with Generation adidas. Mattocks could go overseas, and Martinez still has some citizenship issues to sort out, but the top five are the players MLS wants most badly right now.
Andrew Wenger is the consensus top player, but that doesn't mean he will necessarily be the top pick. From what I am hearing out of Montreal, the Impact prefer Darren Mattocks. That is assuming Montreal keeps the No. 1 overall pick.
For those wondering if Wenger is definitely leaving Duke. My sources tell me he definitely is. In fact, I've been told that he will be holding a summit of all the top soccer agents in the United States next week, where he will select his agent. The fact that agents are willing to go through that process tells you just how highly regarded he is.
Andrew Jean-Baptiste surprised me as a player now on Generation adidas list. He's a young, big and physically imposing centerback, but he's also mistake-prone and not technically gifted. I rate Eric Schoenle as a better prospect, and while Schoenle still has some developing to do physically, he is a much better long-term prospect in my book. Not enough MLS clubs feel that way it seems and now it's looking more and more likely that Schoenle will not be offered a GA deal and will stay in school.
Robbie Derschang has fallen practically off the radar. The Colorado Rapids had their Homegrown Player claim on Derschang rejected, and at this point he looks like a safe bet to stay in school. He's still a quality left wing prospect, but another year in school won't hurt him.
Speaking of staying in school. Jean-Baptiste isn't the only UConn player who may leave school early. Sources tell me forward Mamadou Diouf wants to also go pro. Only a sophomore, Diouf was UConn's top offensive player this year, and the Senegal native is ready to parlay that into a pro career. Is he a Generation adidas option? Not at the moment.
I've been very surprised with how much Dillon Powers' stock has dropped. A year ago he was a player some saw as a Top Five option. Now, he may not even get offered a Generation adidas deal. Why? The buzz he built up as as standout on the U.S. Under-20 team has long since faded, and a lackluster season with Notre Dame didn't wow scouts either. What's interesting is that while a year ago there was no chance he would leave school, the word now is he wants to leave Notre Dame and turn pro. There are still some scouts who absolutely love him, and he could very well still grab a Generation adidas spot.
David Opoku might surprise some on this list but scouts have been raving about him all college season. His size, athleticism and the fact he's very young as a soccer player (has only played organized soccer for a few years) has coaches/scouts buzzing about his upsde.
Opoku's teammate, Garza, didn't have as big a year as some expected, but scouts still love his make-up and with Mexican teams a potential option for him, it's looking very likely that Garza leaves school whether he secures a Generation adidas contract or not.
If there is an underclassman you are wondering about, who you thought would be a Generation adidas signing, and they're not on this list, it is HIGHLY unlikely he's going to be signed this year.
A quick about Homegrown Player tags. Major League Soccer rejected several Homegrown Player claims and is preparing to reveal revamped rules and regulations on the process to label Homegrown Players. Basically, you had several teams throwing up very questionable claims on college players who had some loose affiliations with their academy/PDL programs. Some claims were stronger than others, but ultimately there were a handful of claims rejected on some of the top players in this draft class.
Among the players who had labels removed were UConn's Tony Cascio and Louisville's Nick DeLeon, who both spent time with Real Salt Lake's academy program in Arizona, but neither of which spent enough time in that system to qualify as an RSL homegrown player.
Rejected claims are nothing new. The Philadelphia Union had claims for Corey Hertzog and C.J. Sapong rejected last year. In fact, the Union had a claim for Andrew Wenger rejected this year.
Now, onto the next 15 players who would have been on the Fox Soccer MLS Draft Big Board (which will increase to 40 later this month):
26. Callum Mallace, M, Marquette
27. Raymon Gaddis, D, West Virginia
28. Kevan George, M, Central Florida
29. Tommy Meyer, D, Indiana
30. Maykell Bates, D, Santa Clara
31. Brian Rowe, GK, UCLA
32. Ethan Finlay, F, Creighton
33. Kirk Urso, M, North Carolina
34. Lance Rozeboom, M, New Mexico
35. Ryan Meara, GK, Fordham
36. Aubrey Perry, D, South Florida
37. Arthur Ivo, M, SMU
38. Andy Rose, D, UCLA
39. Anthony Arena, D, Wake Forest
40. Kenney Walker, M, Louisville
This second tier of prospects is sure to change, and I will be updating the Fox Soccer Big Board every two weeks until the MLS Combine, which kicks off on January 6th in Fort Lauderdale.
What do you think of these developments? Which players are you hoping your MLS team can pick up?
Share your thoughts below.