The latest Fox Soccer MLS Mock Draft (and a look at the draft pool)

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The MLS Draft is less than two weeks away, and the MLS Combine is now less than a week away, meaning it's getting close to time for clubs to start figuring out what needs they want to address and which players they plan to target when the draft kicks off in Kansas City.

There is still plenty we don't know about how the draft will shape up. From teams potentially trading draft picks, to Major League Soccer's plan to once again include foreign players in the Combine and Draft, trying to project just how the draft will go is a pretty futile endeavor.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't try though. I have written up my second MLS Mock Draft for Fox Soccer, complete with a full two-round project. The projections are based on player values, team needs and depth of the positions in the draft pool.

Here are some thoughts on the latest mock draft and how the draft pool stands right now:

The Generation adidas draft class stands at five players, but the league is still negotiating with Billy Schuler and Enzo Martinez. It's tough to imagine the GA class winding up with any less than seven players, and if Schuler and Martinez aren't signed, MLS will turn to other targets, such as Dom Dwyer, Tyler Polak, Dillon Powers and Andrew Jean-Baptiste.

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As I said would happen two weeks ago, Polak has left Creighton to pursue his professional options. He is still on the fringes of a GA deal, which I find a bit crazy considering just how good a left back he is. If he signs with MLS he will automatically be the top left back in the draft and I'd find it tough to see him lasting past the top half of the first round. As it stands though, Polak has yet to score an offer.

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While I'm on the subject of GA deals, it should be noted that there is a sentiment going around the league that MLS is trying to cut costs on the Generation adidas front in order to pay for the signing of international players. If we wind up with just 5-6 GA signings as opposed to the usual eight or more, then there will certainly be evidence to back that up.

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The draft is deep at attacking midfielder, but woefully thin on the wings and a bit weak at centerback. for this reason you could see some of the few top-rated wingers go earlier than expected, and centerbacks like Aaron Maund and Austin Berry go a bit earlier than expected. Right back is another position where there are some good options.

If your team is looking for left-sided options, good luck. Pure left wingers are the toughest thing to find in this draft, which makes you wonder if MLS scouts will look to add some via the international route. Left back is also a bit thin, but if Polak signs, he would join Hunter Jumper and Chris Estridge as three quality options.

Goalkeeper isn't a position of strength either, and it seems unlikely that we will see one taken in the first round, if any are taken in either round. Ryan Meara, Brian Rowe and Chris Blais are the top three options and the Combine should go a long way in determining which of them is taken first on draft day.

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Houston's acquisition of Nathan Sturgis came after I had already filed the mock draft, and it's safe to say that landing Sturgis makes it less likely Dom Kinnear would go after one in the first round.  I could see the Dynamo going after a left back like Chris Estridge or Hunter Jumper.

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Toronto FC is the only team in the draft that has two first-round picks and for that reason TFC will play a key role in how things shake out. Toronto could look to deal picks, with some defensive depth a top need, but don't expect Toronto to go for a defender at No. 4.

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I will be posting a Big Board this week prior to the MLS Combine, which begins on Friday, so stay tuned for that. That Big Board, and this Mock Draft, are the final ones until I write a new Mock Draft and Big Board for the day before the MLS Draft.

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That's all for now. What do you think of the two-round mock draft? Who are you hoping your team selects? Which draft prospects are you most interested in?

Share your thoughts below.

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56 Responses to The latest Fox Soccer MLS Mock Draft (and a look at the draft pool)

  1. marco says:

    What happened to Ben Speas? I thought he looked very good.

  2. prizby says:

    TFC looks to move the pick unless there is someone who can play multiple positions and/or knows how to play in the 4-3-3 or they feel can still be taught how to play the system…thats the problem with drafting 20 something year olds; they don’t want to learn or adapt

  3. Johnny Ramone says:

    There are a lot of mediocre players here. Most of them will be out of MLS or at least not starting within two years.

    (SBI-Thanks for bringing absolutely nothing to the conversation with this comment William. Much appreciated.)

  4. VADCUfan says:

    That’s a broad and unfair assertion. These guys are on track to be professional players, if they haven’t developed the necessary attitude to succeed then they will not succeed. Generally speaking first round picks are successful at the MLS level,. Therefore, the suggestion that these players would jeopardize their nascent careers by not learning on the job is far-fetched.

  5. chris says:

    Hes a junior and may be a crew hgp

  6. chris says:

    You act as if it is hard to learn toronto’s 4-3-3. Dont defend and dont possess the ball

  7. Travis says:

    dang, SBI smacked johnny

  8. Travis says:

    As a Sounders fan I would be happy with the Rolfe pick, we need more up top. our midfield is fairly well off, a fullback would be a good option as well

  9. Mulletron says:

    lmao… well said

    prizby you do realize that quite a few of these guys have played possession oriented systems at Akron, UCLA, and UNC

  10. David says:

    The college system needs a revolution if we are going to produce second and third round draft picks who are successful in the MLS. I would suggest getting together 40 college teams, that want to p lay serious ball. Divide the country into East and West, both East and West would have a 1st and 2nd division with promotion and relegation. Top 4 go to a national tournament and the bottom 2 drop to the second division. Each team would have an 18 game regular season and play FIFA rules (no more unlimited subs. Players would have to be fit for 90). Players could play for whatever development teams they choose in the off season. More teams could joint the system by adding more divisions.

  11. Mulletron says:

    dumbest comment I have ever seen

    these kids have serious talent and I would not be surprised to see more than a couple of them work their way up to a euro transfer in a few years…

    100% of the 2010 first round picks are still in MLS and playing regularly.

  12. EARL says:

    i want the sounders to get rowe so bad. i’m really hoping he worked out some kind of ‘i’ll only sign if i can go to seattle’ deal with the league.

  13. chris says:

    Thats the dumbest thing i have ever heard. It would be ok if you said they need to train more or something to that extent but how does implementing pro/reg automatically make a player better? How does playing less games make you a better player? The structure of the league is not what makes a good player its the training

  14. hogatroge says:

    Not directly related, but anyone know the chances of the Dynamo offering HGP Ibeagha a contract?

  15. David says:

    I disagree. The way we do it now is dumb. Schedules make no sense and teams are seeded by committee. I did not pick the number 18 arbitrarily. 18 is the number of game Achron played this year excluding exhibitions and the NCAA tournament. College budgets dictate the number of games a team can play. Promotion and relegation is the only way to add lots of teams into an integrated system BASED ON RESULTS. And being 90minutes fit does make players better prepared for the pros.

  16. chris says:

    Wait, so the NCAA doesnt produce good players because the schedules are too confusing? Schedules dont need to make sense. Games are Games. Ok so teams are seeded based off the strenght of their schedule so what? If you cant beat a higher or lower seed you dont deserve to be a champion. Im sorry but i can just tell you think pro/reg is good because europe does it. I dont expect you to know this because i can tell you dont follow college soccer but they do have different divisions in college soccer. FGCU played in Div 2 for many years but BASED ON RESULTS over a couple years, not just one fluke season, they were granted status into Div 1.

  17. JJ says:

    . . . . . . . . . . . Gspurning . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Johannson . Parke . Hurtado . Sivebaek
    . . . . . . . . . . . . Alonso . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Rosales . . . . . . Rowe . . . . . Fernandez
    . . . . . . . Montero . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ochoa . . . . . . . . . .

    Subs: Meredith, Fucito, Neagle, Evans, Scott, Ianni, Levesque

    We will be very strong.

  18. Jason says:

    If the draft is deep at attacking midfielder, then it’s not a very deep draft at all. College a-mids have been notoriously underwhelming, and most rarely make the transistion to the professional level. That’s one reason why I hope DC passes on Enzo (assuming he’s in the draft), as I don’t think he’s the solution to any of their current problems.

    (SBI-So the draft isn’t deep because its strongest position has never really produced top players before? Not sure I buy that logic. This draft has several talented playmakers, the best crop of attacking midfielders anybody can remember. The fact is the changes and improvements in the youth development system are producing more creative players, and we’re starting to see the product of that. Rather than saying, “Oh, well, we’ve never had attacking midfielders come out of college before so they can’t be any good” how about you watch what’s coming and form your opinions based on something tangible?)

  19. JJ says:

    Why would Seattle pick another keeper? That makes no sense to me.

  20. Duck says:

    I read an interview where Ibeagha states he want to finish his degree. It would be great to get him in with the pros now and see how it works out. Not many teams get a homegrown CB.

  21. wilyboy says:

    Because as we know, strikers and defenders are sure to be successful. What we need is talent and depth in attacking midfield and the wings, or a starting left back. Tyler Polak’s the best bet at the latter, but there’s no guarantee. De Ro is going to be a forward, and I don’t want to rely on a forward from this draft. Therefore Enzo it is, or Kelyn Rowe or Garcia.

  22. adam says:

    Sivebaek will not play as a defender.

  23. David says:

    The present system leaves many of the best college teams with games on their schedule they should not be playing. This does not help the development of our best players. A promotion/relegation system would put the best programs playing each other on a consistent basis. The level of competition would be higher in the limited time an 18 game season affords.

  24. adam says:

    Kelyn Rowe has LA roots?

  25. b says:

    You are a disgrace to the real Johnny Ramone.

  26. b says:

    “with promotion and relegation”

    Can we relegate you if you make more idiotic suggestions?

  27. David says:

    Your suggestion to improve the system is???? It is easy to be critical. Do you have any ideas?…. Even a little one?

  28. k says:

    Agreed, i was going to post the same thing. they have two good young keepers and have no need of a third.

  29. k says:

    only because he played college ball at UCLA; his actual roots are far to the north which is where he wants to play. He’s seams a good kid; I have watched him on the field training kids while my kid was practicing on the same fields. he will be a fine addition to any team.

  30. Jason says:

    Between DeRo, Boskovic, and Najar, DC has the attacking midfielder position covered, and, even if they wanted someone else, they would be fools to put a college kid there.

  31. GY says:

    I notice no mention of James Kiffe (UCSB) as being a quality LB. He is and being a converted Fwd gives him the ability to attack. I guess he’ll have to prove his worth come the Combine. Hopefully his ankle sprain is healed 100%. If he would have been healthy and played at Creighton in the Sweet 16, that game probably would have ended differently.

    (SBI-Mike, you think every Gaucho player is a beast, not exactly impartial. Haha. Seriously though, Kiffe’s on the radar at left back, but there are questions about speed and defensive qualities. He’s a notch below the left backs I mentioned and will have his chance to prove himself at the Combine.)

  32. joemybro says:

    DeRo is going to play the second forward (behind whom, don’t ask me) Assuming Pontius gets back healthy (a big assumption) and he and Najar don’t get sold, Bosko’s plays A-Mid. UNLESS, Pontius is the forward DeRo is playing with/slightly behind. Najar and Bosko on the flanks, and a new A-mid? DCU will need some depth at Outside Mid regardless after parting ways with Tino (we will regret that at some point this season) and still hasn’t replaced Bryan Namoff (damned concussions are killing us).

  33. Jason says:

    Tino’s contributions to the team over the past few years were negligible. He won’t be missed because he hasn’t been reliable for some time. As for Namoff, you’re right about not replacing him, but between Russell, Kirby, and Zayner, someone should be able to claim the position.

    Unless Polak or Kemp sign a GA deal, DC is looking at reserve players and projects rather than meaningful starters or even subs.

  34. wilyboy says:

    There’s a good chance Boskovic will be our playmaker, but looking past the starting eleven, our greatest dearth of cover is offensive midfield players. Sure we’ve got Pontius and Najar, but we need them on the wings, and no one legit to cover them. De Ro needs to be a forward. King isn’t enough. Without Barklage and Tino, we can’t even pretend to have any depth at this position; the best way to lose is to shuffle around working parts.

  35. Shane says:

    someone said this hgp stuff last year about the Crew and Michael Nanchoff. Neither Nanchoff or Speas ever played for the Crew but for teams about two hours away (and Akron). Could they still be hgp players just because they’re from Ohio? Anyone know how you qualify as a club’s hgp?

    (SBI-Speas NEVER played for the Crew? You sure about that one?)

  36. Blacksmith says:

    I agree. Seattle doesn’t need a third young keeper. I don’t understand the logic behind that pick at all.

    The simple truth is that anyone Seattle drafts this year is going to have a bear of a time even making the roster unless they are one of the can’t lose GA players. Seattle’s roster is already almost full and with the international trialists the Sounders will bring in to camp, the Seattle draft picks will be on the outside looking in. They will need to displace a player from the current team just to earn a place at the table. It’s not impossible, but highly unlikely. Realistically only one or maybe two draft picks will make the final roster.

    Seattle is likely to actively shop their picks. The simple truth is that the picks have more value in trade then they do as potential bodies on the roster. I expect that the Sounders will aggressively look to move up the board and would even be willing to convert all of their picks to get one of the GA players if they can maneuver into position and get the pick they want.

    If they can’t move up, look for them to try to move out. Trading picks for a veteran backup keeper is much more likely than picking up a GK prospect. The upshot of this is that the Sounders are likely to be a major wild card on draft day. Their draft day activity is likely to redefine the draft order and will wreak havoc with many team’s draft boards, let alone the mock draft boards like this one.

  37. langston hughes says:

    This might make sense if the primary goal of colleges and universities was to produce professional soccer players. We are the one nation in the world where institutions of higher “learning” play such a large role in the further development of professional athletes. If we want to improve the development of professional soccer players, that is a task best left to the clubs themselves, like just about everywhere else in the world.

  38. Jason says:

    Ives,

    Looking at previous highly-touted attacking midfielders coming out of college, there’s a short list of success stories. Corben Bone, Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Michael Stephens, Kyle Nakazawa, Baggio Husidic, Michael Videira, Eric Avila, Stephen King, and Graham Zusi make up the short list of recent prospects over the past few years, and, of those, I’d say Stephens and Zusi are the only ones to translate college success into professional success. Most of the others have been converted to either wide players or central midfielders (or relegated to reserve team status), so it’s not a stretch to look at this year’s class and expect similar results. It’s just not a position that most MLS teams look to fill with American talent, and, most of the time, the players put there struggle with the speed of play and releasing the ball in a timely fashion.

    And, yes, I do believe that this draft is fairly weak when it comes to quality prospects. You say the draft is deep at attacking midfielders, and that’s not a good sign given the lack of success that position has yielded in years past. I’d say the forward position offers more hope, but college forwards have been just as questionable at the pro level. Looking past the first 15 or so picks, the quality drops off considerably, and teams will be drafting players with the dreaded word “potential”. It’s hard to believe that more than a dozen or so will make rosters, much less make an impact on the field.

    If the belief is that DC is looking for an attacking midfielder so that DeRosario can play up top, then I agree with you. However, I don’t see a college player stepping into that kind of role when so many others have failed. I don’t doubt that one of DeLeon, Rowe, or Martinez might prove to be a capable MLS player, but I don’t see DC drafting for a position that is better filled via a player brought in during the international transfer window. Where DC could really use help and depth is at the wide positions, and I don’t see Martinez as a conversion project. If you do, please feel free to enlighten me on his prospects. Barring that, I think DC grabs the best forward available, as the team could use the depth, or, at the very least, try to use them as a wide player.

  39. TFC guy says:

    Don’t mind him, he’s waste deep in management cool-aid. It seems like an ok draft year and I’m sure there is someone out there who can contribute to TFC at the 4th pick and probably provide cap relief at the same time.

    The 11th is more likely to be a crap shoot, but that’s somewhat expected.

  40. TFC guy says:

    Well in a broad sense, he has a small point. The conversion rate between the MLS draft and the pro ranks is not too high.

  41. Jason says:

    Ives,

    What’s the deal with Polak? He’s already announced he wants to go pro and even says that he wants to play in MLS, but there’s no developments in his signing a GA deal.

    link to omaha.com

    “Right now, we’ve talked with them but it’s on hold,” Polak said. “We’ll see what happens.”

    “If the MLS doesn’t work out, I would probably try to get on with a club team in Germany or Denmark,” he said. “A couple of teams are interested in bringing me over for a trial.”

    Is the hold-up due to MLS pursuing Schuler and Martinez or is MLS not willing to pay him to a larger deal? To me, he is the ideal pick for DC, and it seems unfathomable that MLS would pass on him as a prospect.

  42. Mike says:

    Damn Ives. You the most sensitive sports writer I know. Dude was just giving his opinion

  43. Jason says:

    Just reread the article and saw the blurb on Polak addressing my question. I just can’t believe that MLS would go through the trouble of pursuing so many offensive players and almost completely ignore any defensive signings.

  44. Mike says:

    I agree with Jason. Attacking Mids coming out of the college game rarely become sucessful pro’s. There is a reason why the majority of MLS teams look overseas for creative players. This draft being “deep” in A-Mids, just means that there are a lot of them available

  45. Mulletron says:

    If you are such an expert on DC then explain why you think they need help out wide when they have Pontius and Najar.

    Rowe, Enzo, Silva, DeLeon… all these guys have skill sets that can translate to the wing if need be.

  46. Jason says:

    Mulletron,

    I think they need help at LB most of all, but LM and RM need help if a) Pontius gets moved to forward (possible) or b) a Najar transfer is on the horizon (highly likely). In either case, the attacking midfielder spot isn’t one I want filled by a college player, while the college system has had its fair share of success stories with backs and outside midfielders. If the teams wants to convert someone to wide player, they could try to do it, but I would rather get someone who’s already a natural at their position than work on a project.

  47. galloway84 says:

    I wonder why the pro scouts never release futher information on players speed on the 40 yard dash, free kick and PK drills, save drills for GK, passing and MPH shot. As for Kelyn Rowe, he reminds me of a Stuart Holden/Brad Davis with his accurate passing.

  48. galloway84 says:

    Corben Bone has never had a fair chance to showcase his talent. The jury is still out on Corben and Michael Vidiera is another story. Vidiera is not that good and he was cut by 7 different teams for a reason. Stephens and Zusi has showed that they belong in the league; Zusi is closest to having European type potential. He is one of the most underrated midfielders in the league. Husidic is a proven backup and it is playing Swedish Division 2 and Eric avila is a starter for Toronto FC. The following schools to look for skilled players: Virgina Tech, Maryland, Akron, UCLA, North Carolina, Virginia, Boston College, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine.

  49. Shmenge says:

    Hi Ives–A question about your mention of “rumors” that GA is being cut back so that more int’l signings could take place–do you mean draft-related int’l signings?

    Did the league pay for the loan fees of Plata, Estupinan and Cardozo this year out of GA budget and the teams just paid the salaries?

    Is that the mechanism they’re looking to repeat?

    Thanks.

  50. abc says:

    I’m not being critical, YOU are the one being critical. I think the college system is just fine for the most part and just needs some minor changes:
    1. It would be great if more universities had soccer programs and took soccer seriously (not sure what can be done about that since Title 9 isn’t going anywhere, hopefully it will change as soccer increases in popularity).
    2. More games.
    3. More underclassmen leaving to enter the MLS draft than just the relatively small GA class.

  51. abc says:

    I would like to know this as well… hopefully he gets a GA deal.

  52. HS says:

    Any interest in GWU’s Yoni Berhanu? NSCAA National player of the week and also A-10 midfielder of the year

  53. Patrick says:

    The Crew has several youth teams , 2 in Michigan, Cincinati united a team in Cleveland and there are 2 affiliated teams in Columbus. I am not sure but I thought that they had a team at one time in Indiana. Ben Speas played for the Crew Acadamey u-18 team.
    link to thecrew.com

  54. Dennis says:

    It is not the games, so much as it is so many games squeezed into a very short season and the practices limited to a few weeks before that onslaught of games. Of course, then there is a spring “season” that is so limited in duration and number of practices that it is all but worthless for any player improvement. Limiting the subs would take some of the 100 miles per hour and aggressive play out of the game and allow the more creative players to have a better chance.

    College is for learning academics, not for learning soccer, I’m not sure many HS soccer players whether they choose to attend college or not will end up playing soccer professionally. For the vast majority of HS players, that is the highest level they will ever play, for the vast majority of college soccer players, that is the highest level they will ever play. For all its faults, the NCAA is right in keeping its emphasis on academic, it continues to struggle to impose that vision on college football programs.

    A system wherein the MLS provided a practice and game schedule for the reserve teams that allowed the players to attend local universities at least part-time while they were on the professional squads might work. It would provide some players with the chance to improve as soccer players while working to continue their educations. It would require some flexibility on the part of both MLS coaches and some professors.

  55. Dennis says:

    Ampaipataktwong, an attacking midfielder, looked very good in college, this year in the MLS he struggled to get much playing time for San Jose

    Is that because he is not “rugged or athletic enough” for MLS, because he failed to “mesh” with his new teammates, or is it because MLS style mostly emphasizes physical challenges and athletic prowess at the expense of skillful combination play.

    I hope San Jose will find a way to utilize Ampai’s talent more extensively next year than they did this year.

  56. Rex says:

    So Dillon Powers isnt on the list. Does that mean he doesnt come out if he isnt GA?