SBI MLS Draft Big Board (Version 2.0)

By IVES GALARCEP

If you happen to follow one of the 17 teams not taking part in the 2012 MLS Cup you are probably spending more time wondering who your team is going to take in January’s MLS Draft than you are wondering about who will win Saturday’s MLS Cup Final.

The player pool for the 2013 MLS Draft isn’t quite as strong as last year’s pool, and it could be made even thinner if MLS follows through with its plan to reduce the size of the Generation adidas draft class.

That doesn’t mean there still isn’t plenty of talent for teams to pick from, and some players who can fill areas of real need for clubs looking to fill positions being vacated by veterans leaving their teams or players who didn’t quite make the cut.

We have made several changes to the SBI MLS Big Board, with some GA prospects coming off the board and some seniors moving onto the list (You can read more on the upcoming Generation adidas class here). The NCAA Tournament is providing a good platform for some players to boost their stock, which some players have seen their stock take a hit after struggling in big tournament games. (One note on the latest list. Young GA prospect Kekuta Manneh has emerged as a serious Generation adidas target, but we will not be adding him to the Big Board until the next installment.)

Here is the latest SBI MLS Draft Big Board:

 2013 MLS DRAFT BIG BOARD (Version 2.0)

(*-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. Widely-regarded as the top prospect in the draft and is, at this point a lock Generation adidas signing.

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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. Expected to sign a Generation adidas deal, and is second only to Farrell on most team’s draft boards.

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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, but the surprising thing is sources tell SBI he is not a lock to secure a Generation adidas contract. It is tough to imagine him not getting offered one because too many teams are in love with his skill set.
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5- *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. As things stand, he is a player expected to be offered one.

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6- 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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7- *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. Among the small group of players expected to be offered a GA deal.

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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- *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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10- 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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11- 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. Though Coastal Carolina was blown out by Maryland, Bennett impressed scouts with his play, particularly his goal. His strong second half, and showing vs. the Terps, has his stock rising again.

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12- 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. Impressed with his performance against UConn in the NCAA Tournament and looks like the best pure winger in the draft.

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13- 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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14- 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. Stock took a hit with Notre Dame’s early exit from the NCAA Tournament.

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15- 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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16- 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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17- 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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18- 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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19- 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, which is why his stock has slipped.

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20- 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. Could definitely wind up being a late first-round pick at this point.

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21- 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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22- 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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23- 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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24- 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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25- 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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26- 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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27- 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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28- DONNIE SMITH, Charlotte, LM

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29- FERNANDO MONGE, UCLA, CM

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30- JOE FRANCO, Cal-State Northridge, RB

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31- CHRIS THOMAS, Elon, F

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32- JOSE GOMEZ, Creighton, AM

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33- DYLAN TUCKER-GAGNES, Washington, CB

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34- PAUL WYATT, JAMES MADISON, CM

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35- JIMMY NEALIS, Georgetown, LB

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36. DEVON SANDOVAL, New Mexico, F

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37- CHRIS RITTER, Northwestern, CB

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38- KOFI OPARE, Michigan, CB

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39- JAMES BELSHAW, Duke, GK

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40- ADAM JAHN, Stanford, F

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This entry was posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS Combine 2013, MLS Draft 2013. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to SBI MLS Draft Big Board (Version 2.0)

  1. Aljarov says:

    What, no Matt Lodge?

    Gotta get some UK representation up there!

  2. Matt Cook says:

    No Love for Shaun Foster out of Hofstra? Kid has been a steady CB throughout his career with many CAA honors. Is it because of his English nationality?

  3. Charles says:

    Why is MLS reducing the GA class ? Seems like it has been very successful, not like I studied it, but I follow MLS pretty closely. And it seems like money is better than ever. Young guys from the Americas are bringing the quality of MLS up to the roof, keep it going, no ?

    • fischy says:

      The idea was to force Academy kids into choosing between going to and staying in college for four years or signing Homegrown deals. Cutting back on GA makes that choice a little clearer for a 17-18 year old.

  4. Nick says:

    Ives, have you omitted the youth player from Austin you wrote about earlier or is he not a top 40 prospect yet?

    • Cole says:

      From article “One note on the latest list. Young GA prospect Kekuta Manneh has emerged as a serious Generation adidas target, but we will not be adding him to the Big Board until the next installment.” – near the end. I missed this too at first glance

      • Nick says:

        Ah thanks

      • Flacotex says:

        Manneh was a great player for the Aztex PDL team last year (Dillon Powers played on that team as well for the first half of the season). I’m surprised to hear that Manneh is up for a GA contract as he’s only 17. Looking forward to more information on that topic.

  5. Joe+G says:

    And the winner for worst haircut is…

  6. Naked Animals says:

    This draft class could be much better then this years.

  7. THomas says:

    Their age would be a nice addition to their info.

  8. Josh D says:

    Can you rank them based on the order of the draft for MLS teams?

    How does Powers match to Kitchen’s skill?

    I saw Sandoval play last year and was impressed, though I seem to recall him playing midfield then. Has he switched positions?

    • fischy says:

      “Can you rank them based on the order of the draft for MLS teams?”

      Not speaking for Ives of course, but I have no idea what you mean.

      if you want to know the draft order, look at the final MLS standings and reverse them. What that would have to do with the way he ranks the players, I don’t know. If you’re asking him to project which player goes to which team, he’ll get to that — I’m guessing not until after the Combine.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Josh, ranking them based on order of the draft would be a Mock Draft. This is a Big Board. Mock Drafts come later, as they have for four years now.

      Powers is a bit more offensive-minded than Kitchen, but probably doesn’t have Kitchen’s ability to cover ground. Kitchen is more DM-CB than Powers, who is more CM-DM.

      Sandoval has always been a forward as long as I’ve known him. Maybe you watched him drop back and hold the ball up for the attack, but he’s a big boy who can set up teammates.

  9. Sebastian says:

    Could you please add the current college year and the players nationality next to their names? You refer to some players when they were Freshmen. What are they today? The other day someone commented that there were some Canadians on the list. Who are they? Other than that great service, keep it up.

  10. TimmyU says:

    The board lists 8 players as LM or LB in the top 40 prospects. In a draft that is supposedly weak, I’m not sure how to rate that. But that many left-sided potential pros is welcome news to the ears of most MLS GMs and quite a few USMNT fans.

    • fischy says:

      Odds are most of the top 40 won’t even stick in MLS. As for the USMNT — it would be a strong draft if 5 or 6 ever saw the pitch for the national team. The ’09 draft was positively miraculous, with Graham Zusi going in the 2nd rd, at 23. Others who have or will get looks with the USMNT include George John, Kevin Alston, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Chris Pontius, Sam Cronin, and maybe Steve Zakuani. Even with all those guys, I would be stunned if we get 5 guys who someday make a WC 23-man roster. Most years, you get 1 or 2. Getting 3 would be a banner year. To project anyone as a national team player is a pointless exercise — but if we’re going to go there, I’d tab Farrell, Zimmerman, Lopez, Powers and Boateng as players with a chance, if they live up to potential. So, there is one left-sided player there. That would be a pretty good haul.

  11. Mike in Missouri says:

    Ives, who is the best pure finisher in the draft?

  12. matt says:

    @Ives I previously inquired about Devon Sandoval from new mexico and he appears here now. What pushed him into the list? Is he likely to get drafted?

  13. ehhh says:

    farrells rise to stardom is a bit fishy for me. consistent starter during soph year and now looks comfortable in the back to go along with his upside. i feel like there has to be better defenders playing college soccer because tactically he just isn’t a 1st pick overall kinda guy to me. i prefer zimmerman to him and even georgetowns defenders muller and nealis over him. i can just see farrell being a marvell wynne type player which isnt much of a compliment id say

  14. Davidos says:

    Guys –

    Is there any color on why Ryan Finley transferred? He was ACC offensive POY then left?

    • spudder says:

      He was asked to leave team at end of regular season prior to ncaa tournament. His teammates and coaches didn’t like his attitude.