SBI 2013 MLS Draft Big Board (Version 1.0)

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

Though the 2012 MLS season isn’t even over yet, the 2013 MLS Draft is just two months away and teams are in full scouting mode as they put the finishing touches on scouting reports and breakdowns of the talent available when the draft convenes in Indianapolis in January.

The 2013 MLS Draft class is going to have a time keeping up the high standard set by the 2012 draft class, which produced a strong group of MLS rookies that includes Nick DeLeon, Austin Berry, Luis Silva, Matt Hedges, Darren Mattocks, Kelyn Rowe and Tony Cascio among others.

The upcoming draft class may not be quite that strong, but it is deep with options at some positions MLS teams are in need of help in. There are deep crops of forwards, centerbacks and left backs this year, which happen to be three positions several teams will be looking for new players for.

The strength of the class will depend on largely on which players sign to Generation adidas deals. Players like North Carolina’s Mikey Lopez and Maryland’s Patrick Mullins (both pictured above) are locks to receive Generation adidas offers and if MLS can succeed in signing the top targets, the draft will be that much stronger.

As we have done for the past four years, SBI will be covering the MLS Draft very closely, and will provide you with an in-depth breakdown of the talent pool. We combine our own college soccer scouting and reporting with the input of knowledgable sources both in MLS and college soccer to come up with a detailed breakdown of the top talent in the draft.

Over the course of the next two months, SBI will try to keep you as informed as possible on Generation adidas signings, accepted and rejected Homegrown Player claims, and senior contract signings, along with our own player rankings, which will be updated regularly all the way up to the day of the MLS Draft.

Now, it is time for the first installment of the SBI MLS Draft Big Board, our ratings of the players who are available in the draft (along with nine players we projected to be signed to Generation adidas contracts):

2013 MLS DRAFT BIG BOARD (Version 1.0)

(*-Generation adidas)

1- *ANDREW FARRELL, Louisville, CB

Originally a midfielder, Farrell has developed into a standout centerback with the kind athleticism and technical ability scouts love. If he signs a Generation adidas deal he should be the first player take in the 2013 MLS Draft.

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2- *WALKER ZIMMERMAN, Furman, CB

U.S. Under-20 centerback has the tools and upside to develop into a standout. A 6-foot-3 aerial force, Zimmerman is young and may not be ready to play right away, but his potential is enough to make him one of the first players taken if he signs a Generation adidas deal.

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3- *MIKEY LOPEZ, North Carolina, CM

A freshman starter on UNC’s national championship team, he impressed with his motor and passing ability and has earned a place on the U.S. Under-20 team. Hasn’t dominated the college game this year as he was expected to, but scouts still rave about his skills.
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4- *PATRICK MULLINS, Maryland, F

Clinical finisher with the ability of playing wide as well as at forward, Mullins has been on the Generation adidas radar since his freshman year. Now a junior, Mullins is enjoying a standout season that has him among the handful of players who can be considered a lock to be offered a GA deal.
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5- DILLON POWERS, Notre Dame, CM

Two years ago Powers was a highly-rated U.S. Under-20 player who would have been a first-round pick if he had signed with MLS. Two years later, Powers is more mature, more polished and more ready to step in and contribute right away. A central midfielder who can play in a deeper role as well as a box-to-box role, Powers should be one of the first seniors off the board.

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6- *ANDRE BLAKE, UConn,  GK

The most highly-rated goalkeeping prospect in the nation by a wide margin, the big question surrounding Blake right now is whether he would be better off staying in school another year or signing with MLS and beginning his pro development. The consensus is that Blake isn’t ready to step in and start, which could lead to the Jamaican international staying in school. If he does sign, it could be very tough for a team needing a long-term goalkeeping option to pass him up.

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7- *PEDRO RIBEIRO, Coastal Carolina, CM

The Brazilian-born midfielder is tall (6-foot-2) but extremely skilled and capable of covering tons of ground in midfield as well as delivering pinpoint passes. His technical quality has scouts buzzing and if he keeps impressing in the NCAA Tournament he should play his way into a GA deal and top 10 spot in the draft.

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8-  CARLOS ALVAREZ, UConn, CM

The best pure playmaker in the draft, Alvarez has been the driving force in UConn’s attack since arriving for years ago and the recent success of college-developed attacking midfielders in MLS should lead to Alvarez having a chance of going early in the draft. Will challenge Powers for ‘first-senior taken’ title.

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9- *J.J. JOHNSON, VCU, F

Combining power and speed, Johnson is a physical forward who could be able to transition smoothly into the pro game. He is a player who could boost his stock considerably with a strong showing at the MLS Combine, assuming he signs a GA deal.

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10- *EMA BOATENG, UCSB, LM/AM

The youngest player on the big board, Boateng is coming off a freshman season where he showed glimpses of the quality that made him the best high school player in the nation a year ago. Boasting lighting quickness with great feet and a soccer intelligence beyond his years, Boateng has scouts excited about his potential. There are still some concerns about him being too young, but if he signs a GA deal he won’t last on the board very long.

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11- *DESHORN BROWN, Central Florida, F

If teams go into the draft looking for someone to mimic Darren Mattock’s difference-making pace, Brown could be that prospect that draws extra attention. Arguably the fastest player in the draft, Brown is a burner who should cement his status as a top prospect at the Combine. That’s if he signs a GA deal.

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12- RYAN FINLEY, Notre Dame, F

The top forward in the Big East in 2012 despite not being a starter, Finley didn’t let coming off the bench stop him from scoring goals in bunches against top competition. The former Duke standout has an uncanny nose for goal and combines strength with deceptive quickness.

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13- ERIK HURTADO, Santa Clara, RM/F

A dangerous forward who could also project as a wide player in the pros, Hurtado’s nose for goal and versatility make him a highly-rated draft prospect. The Portland Timbers put a Homegrown Player claim on him, but sources tell SBI that claim has been rejected and Hurtado will be in the draft.

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14- BLAKE SMITH, New Mexico, LM

A need for natural left wingers in MLS should make Smith a popular option come draft day. He boasts pace, a willingness to go at defenders and an ability to provide good service from the left flank.

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15- EMERY WELSHMAN, Oregon State, F

The Canadian-born striker boosts a good combination of size and quickness, had a dangerous shot and is also a skilled passer. He finished his senior season with 10 goals and 4 assists, and while he did play for the Portland Under-23 team, Welshman is very much a draft prospect and not a Homegrown Player.

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16- MACHAEL DAVID, UCSB, CM/DM

Teams looking for a tenacious central midfielder will have an eye on David, who can deliver the hard tackle, go box-to-box and also deliver a good pass. He does face the scrutiny that comes with dealing with multiple injuries during his college career.

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17- JOHN STERTZER, Maryland, CM

Big attacking midfielder with good feet and a striker’s finishing eye, Stertzer turned heads with his goal-scoring in 2011, and while he hasn’t scored as many in 2012 he remains a quality midfield prospect who could climb up this board with a strong NCAA tournament and Combine.

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18- ERIC SCHOENLE, West Virginia, CB

A skilled left-footed centerback who drew Generation adidas consideration in 2011, Schoenle has some teams very interested while some still question his strength and ability to adjust to the increased physical level of the pros. Good in the air, and a sharp passer out of the back, Schoenle could see a major boost if he goes to the Combine and shuts down the forwards he faces there.

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19- TAYLOR KEMP, Maryland, LB

A highly-skilled left back who may be more attacking threat than defensive specialist, Kemp drew some Generation adidas consideration last season, and this year he’s had injury cost him playing time. That still won’t stop teams in need of left back help from seriously considering him with a first-round pick.

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20- WILL BATES, Virginia, F

A torn ACL late in the 2011 season ended his season and chances of a Generation adidas contract (though he was still a bit of a long-shot to be offered one). Bates is a physical target forward who has made an impressive return from knee surgery to put together a solid senior season. Teams looking for a traditional center forward will have to consider him. as a first-round option.

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21- ASHTON BENNETT, Coastal Carolina, F

Hasn’t had as big a senior season as a junior campaign, but Bennett has turned it on late in the season and is helping his stock rise. He remains a promising forward prospect who boasts impressive speed and some teams do consider him a sure-fire first rounder.

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22- RYAN HOLLINGSHEAD, UCLA, LM

Combining good size with a tireless motor and ability to make things happen in the final third, Hollingshead is more of an effort player than skill player. Can play as a left winger or second striker, though some scouts have visions of Hollingshead being converted into a defender role.

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23- KYLE BEKKER, Boston College CM

An attacking midfielder who can also play in a more central role, Bekker played his senior season with some injury issues that slowed him down. He remains a highly-regarded prospect and has had the chance to train with some MLS teams. His status as a Canadian could cause him to slip a bit, unless one of the Canadian teams decides to grab him earlier.

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24- GREG COCHRANE, Louisville, LB/LM

Whether as a left back or a left midfielder, Cochrane has the technical quality on the wing to be a contributor on the next level. Projects more as a left back, an area of need for several MLS teams, which could help him go earlier in the draft.

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25- TOMMY MULLER, Georgetown, CB

Polished centerback with good size and and an ability to read the game well, Muller is the leader of the Hoyas defense and has the kind of poise that pro scouts love seeing in a central defender.

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26- KORY KINDLE, CSU-Bakersfield, LB

Want a speedy left back who can get forward and whip in good service? Kindle is your guy. Plenty of scouts are aware of him and he could be a player who skyrockets up the board with a strong combine against top level competition.

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28- PAOLO DEL PICCOLO, Louisville, DM

A defensive midfielder this year for Louisville, DelPiccolo can play a variety of position along with providing a polished passer and tenacious presence in a deep-lying midfield role.

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29- CHARLIE RUGG, Boston College, F

Injuries plagued Rugg during his senior season, but his combination of strength and speed helped him make a real impression during his junior season. Well equipped physically to make the transition to the pro level, Rugg also carries the reputation for being one of the ACC’s better forward over the past two years when healthy.

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30- ANTHONY ARENA, Wake Forest, CB

A left-footed centerback who could potentially also contribute at left back, Arena has spent time training with the Seattle Sounders and playing for their Under-23 team. At 5-foot-11 he isn’t your prototypical centerback, but his skills as a left-footed defender, and versatility, make him an intriguing prospect.

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31- DONNIE SMITH, Charlotte, LM

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32- FERNANDO MONGE, UCLA, CM

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33- CHRIS RITTER, Northwestern, CB

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34- JOE FRANCO, Cal-State Northridge, RB

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35- CHRIS THOMAS, Elon, F

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36- JOSE GOMEZ, Creighton, AM

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37- KOFI OPARE, Michigan, CB

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38- DYLAN TUCKER-GAGNES, Washington, CB

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39- JIMMY NEALIS, Georgetown, LB

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40- JAMES BELSHAW, Duke, GK

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42 Responses to SBI 2013 MLS Draft Big Board (Version 1.0)

  1. Were says:

    Looks like none of the potential home grown’s on the board – Zardes, Zavaleta, Caldwell, Woodberry, Trapp, Ibeagha…

    The only thing for me that really jumps out is the exclusion of Mamadou Diouf (Uconn)..

    P.S. Nice to see a couple Canucks make the list!

  2. troy says:

    Powers from ND is going to be the real deal, he looks like he is on a different level than most of his teammates or the guys he faces

    • Bobb says:

      He didn’t impress me with the U-20s, last year was pretty much a bust for him, but glad to see he’s regained his prospect status from two years ago (when he was offered a GA deal by MLS and rejected it)…

    • Sparta Riverside says:

      Know a couple friends who have season tickets to ND and they think Powers is overrated. These guys are pretty knowledgable soccer fans, too. I’ve never seen him play in person, but wasn’t overly impressed with national team duty.

      • Ives Galarcep says:

        Scouts love him and fact is he spent his sophomore and junior years playing injured. He’s healthy now and doing very well. I think he’s going to make a great pro. Would bet on him being one of the better pros in this draft.

  3. Brian says:

    I don’t follow college soccer too closely, but am I really looking at a draft board with 40 players on it and not a single one from Akron? Would think one of the best teams in the nation would have at least one player on here.

    • Kyle says:

      Most of Akron’s top prospects are eligible for Homegrown contracts.

      Caldwell – New England
      Trapp – Columbus
      Serna – Colorado
      Yedlin – Seattle
      Barson – Columbus
      Gallego – New York
      Souders – Columbus

      • Juan says:

        I would like to see Ives rank the quality of the likely homegrown player signings and where they would rank relative to the players eligible for the draft. The Red Bulls have at least three players who are currently sophomores in Gallego at Akron, Metzger- Mid and Cardona -GK at Maryland, etc..

      • Good Jeremy says:

        bam! He was like urghl skeptical arrgh blum doubtful oolf and then you were all POW! here’s the facts, glitch!

  4. wilyboy says:

    This looks like the first season in a while that DC won’t get a good shot at the first round. That’s a good problem to have. Just thinking aloud, but I doubt Ben’s going to trade anything for this class.

  5. Sly says:

    Wonder how they stack up against the best academy prlayers. Best 11 who takes it?

    • Parzival says:

      Did you just ask if the top 11 college players played the top 11 academy players, who would win? Seriously? The Academy team would get run off the field.

  6. WK says:

    Whats the latest draft order?

    • NCT says:

      Here is Dave Kasper’s response regarding DC United’s draft order

      What picks do you have for the MLS draft in mid-January in Indianapolis?
      “First and fourth rounds. We have the third-to-last pick in each of those rounds.”

  7. Mike in Missouri says:

    Is Anthony Arena Bruce’s boy? Will he pan out better than Kenny did?

  8. Henry says:

    there are over 100 soccer leagues on the planet. Only one of them has a draft. When are we going to get rid of this silliness and join the rest of the world?

    • Bobb says:

      That makes no sense. How many of those other countries have the same type of college soccer system that we do?

      There are plenty of other ways for MLS teams go add players, from their academies, homegrown players, trades, signing players… this is just one of them. And plenty of great players came through the MLS draft, Dempsey, Altidore, Bradley, etc.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Actually the Mexican League also holds a draft, but not of college players, but rather of players teams let go of.

      • Hal says:

        Ok I stand corrected. Two leagues out of 100.

        My argument is still that the Draft is not needed. Players who are not under contract should be allowed to trial or sign with any club that wants them.

        Drafts make sense for the NFL. Not for the global game.

    • slowleftarm says:

      College soccer is far from an ideal system for young players. The fewer elite player who go that route, the better. Ideally, college soccer will become like tennis, where the college game provides an opportunity for student-athletes who want to play while studying while genuinely elite players go pro.

      • Good Jeremy says:

        It is the ideal system for all of our guys who don’t play for an academy team or have a pro contract elsewhere though, so why do people knock it?

      • Bilbo Mitchell says:

        Just wanted to say I fully concur. If things go well, and as player development/academies get better college soccer will contain fewer and fewer future MLSers… just like college tennis, which is probably a bit more exciting to watch than college soccer, even at this juncture.

        As this happens and the college draft becomes a very small factor in talent procurement I’d agree with Hal, it’ll make sense for college players to be free-agents/trialist/non-club tied players. Till then, the draft makes sense.

    • Charles says:

      When has the US not done things better ? Just another example. People come from all over the world to play Olympic sports here…soccer is no exception.

  9. Bobb says:

    His list also contains the top 10 college players in terms of WORST HAIRCUTS. Good lord….

  10. Juan says:

    Ives, I am curious about all those players who go through the non-MLS affiliated development academies. Can those players sign directly with any MLS team or do they also have to go through the draft should they want to go straight to MLS?

  11. Louie C. says:

    Surprised not to see Sac State Left Back Oscar Torrico not on here. One of the most consistent D1 Players out there and ready to start on many MLS Teams.

  12. Cole VCU says:

    Great to see Jason Johnson on the list, he has loads of talent.. Is there a good chance he gets offered generation adidas or does VCUs early exit hurt his chances?

  13. Cole VCU says:

    Also I always feel like were saying each draft will have a hard time keeping up with last draft but again we are always pleasantly surprised

  14. spudder says:

    Anthony Arena is not Bruce’s son. Responding to Mike Missouri

  15. RISApres says:

    You missed one of the top prospects! Perhaps because he plays in a smaller Conference NEC. Marcello Castro defensive player of the year in NEC from Sacred Heart has everything it takes to play in the MLS. In addition is perhaps the best free kick taker in NCAA D-1. He is Brazilian over 6 feet defends with strength and distributes with skill and attacks out of the back 9 GOALS this year.

  16. Kelme says:

    I think jason johnson is clearly the most gifted striker up there.. He can change a game in a sec.. Im a fan.. Whoever gets him will b lucky… Furthermore there might b tons of international scouts looking at him. I watched him play and he makes it look so easy…

  17. Rick says:

    I agree Kelme, he played again us (UNC Charlotte). He is virtually unplayable. Skilled, strong and speed. That’s the truth..

  18. Matt W says:

    Couple sleepers from here in Indiana…….Justin Sass and Matt Sanner. Both are tough as nails, physical, athletic players. Sass is an intimidating defender who went to Evansville and then Butler and who has played for the Michigan Bucks PDL team the past two years. Sanner is a winner, a top target forward who also has dominated at holding mid. He is a 4 time all-Ivy player at Princeton, a DA U18 Champion with Carmel United, a U-19 Finalist with Delco, who played PDL at Reading in 2011. These two guys have played with the best players out there and held their own. They have great upside because they will outwork everyone else. Hope I’m right……

    What other sleepers are out there that no one is talking about yet????