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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.