The SBI 2014 MLS Draft Big Board (Version 2.0)

PatrickMullinsPreSeasonAA (ISIPhotos.com)

By IVES GALARCEP

The New Year is here and the countdown to the 2014 MLS Draft winds ever closer. With the Generation adidas class now taking shape, and the first senior signings being made, we are slowly getting a picture of what the MLS draft class will look like.

One thing is clear. Several the very best talents in the draft have yet to sign contracts.  Steve Birnbaum, Christian Dean and Cyle Larin have yet to secure deals with MLS while UCLA star Leo Stolz has decided to return to school and won’t be signing a Generation adidas deals. That means that, at present, four of arguably the top five projected talents in the 2014 draft are not in the draft pool.

There is still time to sort deals out, and late deals are nothing new when it comes to Generation adidas players and highly-rated players like Birnbaum so we don’t need to panic just yet. Now, if Birnbaum, Dean and Larin haven’t signed by the time the MLS Combine kicks off in a week, then it might be time to start getting nervous if you’re a team with a high draft pick.

There has been quite a bit of a shake-up in the latest installment of the SBI 2014 MLS Draft Big Board, with Birnbaum moving ahead of his Cal teammate and taking the top spot. There are growing questions about Dean, who is a high-upside player who could take time to develop, and sources tell SBI that D.C. United is choosing between Birnbaum and Patrick Mullins for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft (assuming D.C. doesn’t trade the pick).

A few housekeeping items: Washington goalkeeper Spencer Richey has being granted a medical redshirt and will return to school. He would have been a Top 40 player in this draft even with the broken leg he is recovering from. Also, sources tell SBI Marquette midfielder Bryan Ciesulka is not likely to be offered a Homegrown Player deal, which is why he has been listed on this Big Board.

Now, with all that in mind, here is the second version of the 2014 SBI MLS Draft Big Board (which will be updated once more before the MLS Combine kicks off next week). It includes 70 players (the MLS Draft is four rounds and 76 players will be selected):

2014 SBI MLS DRAFT BIG BOARD (version 2.0)

(*Generation adidas candidates)

1. STEVE BIRNBAUM, California, Centerback

SteveBirnbaumHeadShot

Missed last year due to injury, but has made up for lost time by being the best defender in the nation this year. Widely regarded as the most pro-ready player in the draft, polished enough to step in and start from day one. Is one of two seniors D.C. United is considering with top pick (Patrick Mullins being the other). First thing’s first, Birnbaum has to sign with MLS, and at present he isn’t close to agreeing on a deal.

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*2. CHRISTIAN DEAN, California, Centerback

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Left-footed centerback has scouts drooling. Has the size and technical ability to do very well on the next level. Isn’t the finished product just yet, but Dean’s upside and Generation adidas status make him a consensus top pick if he signs with MLS. Unfortunately for Dean, D.C. United doesn’t appear to be part of that consensus, so at this point Dean won’t be the top pick in the draft unless D.C. United deals the pick.

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*3. ANDRE BLAKE, UConn, Goalkeeper

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He’s been the best goalkeeper in the nation the past two years, and has even been called up by the Jamaican national team. Boasts size and impressive quickness. Not ready to play right away, but has the potential to be special.

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*4. CYLE LARIN, UConn, Forward

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Another freshman who has caught scouts’ eyes with his size/skill combination and finishing ability. He is only 18, and several teams rate him as the most exciting prospect in the draft, but Larin isn’t guaranteed to sign with MLS. Sources tell SBI he has some European options, and could also stay in school if MLS doesn’t make a good enough offer (and early indications are the initial MLS offer was a low one).

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*5. SCHILLO TSHUMA, Maryland, Forward

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Having a down year after a terrific freshman year, but that isn’t scaring off scouts who see him as the attacking player with the most upside in the pool. Dynamic foward with speed and shiftiness to cause problems for opposing defenses.

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6. PATRICK MULLINS, Maryland, Midfielder/Forward

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Reigning Hermann Award winner is an outstanding player who will almost certainly go near the top of the draft, but questions about just what his best pro position will be could scare some teams off who don’t see him excelling at any one in particular. Could wind up being the first player taken if D.C. United decides to go with the local product, but won’t slip past six, where Philadelphia would almost certainly take him.

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*7. MARLON HAIRSTON, Louisville, Midfielder/Forward

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Another U.S. Under-20 player, Hairston was a composed central midfielder as a freshman, but stepped up into a more attacking role for the Cardinals as a sophomore. Still projects as a central player, and would probably be better off staying in school so he can mature physically a bit more, but has the tools and upside to draw Top 10 interest if he makes the Generation adidas cut.

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*8. ERIC MILLER, Creighton, Right back/Midfielder

Eric Miller Headshot

The U.S. Under-20 World Cup defender has endured his share of injuries during his college career, but there is little disputing that he’s the best fullback in the college game. Also capable of playing in midfield, and should be a lock to score a Generation adidas deal.

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9. PEDRO RIBEIRO, Coastal Carolina, Central Midfielder

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Tall and rangy central midfielder with impressive vision and technical ability, Ribeiro would be higher on the board if he were American, but as all foreign players do, Ribeiro takes a bit of a hit for eventually counting as a foreign player. That still won’t keep him from going in the first round, and he could definitely crack the Top 10.

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*10. A.J. COCHRANE, Wisconsin, Centerback

AJ Cochrane Headshot

A U.S. Under-20 national team defender, Cochrane has the size, strength and toughness to make a smooth transition to the pros, but the question is whether Generation adidas will sign two center backs. As things stand, MLS has yet to make an offer. If the league does, and Cochran signs, he would be a good bet to land in the Top 10.

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11. KEVIN COPE, Michigan State, Centerback

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The 6-foot-1 senior may not have the size of some of the other centerbacks in this pool, but Cope impresses scouts with his position and confidence on the ball.

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12. STEVE NEUMANN, Georgetown, Forward/Midfielder

Men's Soccer Headshots

His unforgettable showing against Maryland in last year’s NCAA Tournament catapulted his name into the elite, but he is another player who scouts wonder about from a position standpoint. He’s talented, and makes things happen in the attack, but figuring out where he fits best on the next level is the big concern, and why he is a good bet to slide past the top 10.

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13. BEN SWEAT, South Florida, Left Back

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Teams needing a left back will look at Sweat first. He’s a top athlete, with the speed and strength to deal with the most physical of wing challenges, but there is still some rawness to his game so expecting him to step into MLS and start might be a stretch.

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14. KYLE VENTER, New Mexico, Centerback

KyleVenter Headshot

The 6-foot-3 senior drew some Generation adidas buzz last year, and even though there is believe he had a bit of a down year by his standards, Venter is still one of the best seniors in the draft. Dominant in the air and physical.

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15. MAMADOU DIOUF, UConn, Forward/Midfielder

MamadouDioufHeadShot

Much like Tshuma, Diouf is enduring a down year after previously being unstoppable in the tough Big East in previous years. His struggles haven’t scared away scouts, who still see him as a first-round value.

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16. JARED WATTS, Wake Forest, Defensive Midfielder

JaredWatts Headshot

Hard-nosed and tall defensive midfielder who has the polish of being a four-year starter at Wake Forest. A three-time All-ACC selection, Watts could project as a centerback, but could also step in and earn minutes in a defensive midfield role in MLS.

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17. GRANT VAN DE CASTEELE, Notre Dame, Centerback

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Big 6-foot-2 centerback who showed good feet and poise in helping lead Notre Dame to a national championship. Three-year starter for Bobby Clark boosted his draft stock in the NCAA Tournament, and could jump even higher with a good MLS Combine.

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18. JOEY DILLON, Georgetown, Defensive Midfielder

Men's Soccer Headshots

A player who has been overshadowed by attacking players at Georgetown the past few years, Dillon has impressed scouts with his ability to do the dirty work in central midfield and keep the ball moving, providing the perfect conduit between defense and offense.

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19. MARCO FRANCO, UC-Irvine, Right Back

MarcoFrancoHeadshot

Technically-gifted centerback who lacks the size of the prototypical central defender at 5-foot-11, but is very good on the ball and strong for his size. Could be asked by some teams to move to right back, but could wind up like A.J. De La Garza, a smallish centerback who ultimately proves he can play in MLS as a central defender. Shockingly, Franco hasn’t been invited to the Combine yet, but that oversight should be corrected before the Combine kicks off.

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20. ROMENA BOWIE, VCU, Central Midfielder

RomenaBowie Headshot

Jamaican midfielder is a quality two-way player who has impressed for the past two years and would be much higher on this list if not for his international status.

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21. NIKITA KOTLOV, Indiana, Left Winger

Men's Soccer player and staff head shots, 08/12/13_Mike Dickbernd

A left-footed player with some pace and ability to take defenders on, Kotlov is one of the best wing options in the draft pool and could very well wind up a first-round pick for a team willing to reach for a good wide option.

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22. LUCA GIMENEZ, Wake Forest, Attacking Midfielder/Right Winger

A playmaker/second forward on the college level, Gimenez might not wind up in that sort of role on the next level, but scouts love his technical ability. He can set teammates up and create chances for himself as well.

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23. JOE SOFIA, UCLA, Centerback/RightBack

Intelligent and durable centerback with good size (6-foot-2) and maturity . Three-year starter at UCLA who coaches rate over some more impressive physical specimens.

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24. ALEX MARTINEZ, North Carolina State, Attacking Midfielder

A central midfielder who has shown an ability to create chances for others as well as score goals of his own, Martinez saw his stock dip a bit during his senior year, though he did show off his playmaking ability.

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25. ROBBIE DERSCHANG, Akron, Left Winger

Talented left winger who didn’t quite thrive at Akron but still has the attention of scouts because of his impressive left foot. Whether projected as a left back on the next level, or whether he stays as a winger, Derschang will draw attention as a commodity at a scarce position.

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26. MARK SHERROD, Memphis, Forward

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27. NICK HAGGLUND, Xavier, Centerback

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28. REINALDO BRENES, Akron, Forward

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29. TAYLOR PEAY, Washington, Centerback

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30. VICTOR CHAVEZ, UCLA, Forward

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31. GEORGE FOCHIVE, UConn, Defensive Midfielder

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32. MACKENZIE PRIDHAM, Cal Poly, Forward

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33. JIMMY OCKFORD, Louisville, Centerback

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34. THOMAS MCNAMARA, Clemson, Midfielder

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35. BRYAN CIESULKA, Marquette, Central Midfielder

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36. KINGSLEY BAIDEN, UCSB, Defensive Midfielder

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37. J.J. KOVAL, Stanford, Central Midfielder

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38. A.J.CORRADO, Indiana, Attacking Midfielder/Right Winger

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39. RAFAEL DIAZ, St. John’s, Goalkeeper

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40. FABIO PEREIRA, Michigan, Attacking Midfielder

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41. ERIC STEVENSON, Akron, Left Winger/Left Back

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42- JUSTIN PORTILLO, Coastal Carolina, Forward

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43. KRISTOPHER TYRPAK, Houston Baptist, Forward

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44. PETE CARINGI, UMBC, Forward

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45. AODHAN QUINN, Akron, Right Winger

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46. KEES HEEMSKERK, College of Charleston, Goalkeeper

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47. VICTOR MUNOZ, UCLA, Central Midfielder

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48. HARRISON PETTS, Indiana, Right Winger

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49. ENRIQUE CARDENAS, UC-Irvine, Forward

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50. MICHAEL KAFARI, New Mexico, Defensive Midfielder

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51. RYAN NEIL, California, Left Winger

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52. JACOB BUSHUE, Indiana, Defensive midfielder/Centerback

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53. DANIEL LOVITZ, Elon, Left Winger

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54. TOMISLAV ZADRO, Wisconsin, Central Midfielder

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55. WOJCIECH WOJCIK, Bradley, Forward

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56. MIGUEL GONZALEZ, Seattle University, Forward

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57. ALEX SWEETIN, Saint Louis, Midfielder

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58. NICK WALKER, FDU, Centerback

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59. ADNAN GABELJIC, Saint Louis, Forward 

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60. CHRIS RITTER, Northwestern, Defensive Midfielder

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60. SUNNY JANE, Maryland, Right Winger

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61.  MICHAEL CALDERON, New Mexico, Attacking Midfielder

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62. OMAR MATA, Tulsa,  Attacking midfielder/left winger,

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63. ZACH BOLDEN, Denver, Left winger

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64. TYLER GIBSON, Charlotte, Midfielder

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65. PATRICK SLOGIC, Cornell, Centerback

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66. KADEEM DACRES, UMBC, Midfielder

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67. CHRIS DUVALL, Wake Forest, Right Back

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68. FABIAN OTTE, North Carolina State, Goalkeeper

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69. PAUL DILLON, Marquette, Left Back

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70. ZACH BARNES, Creighton, Central Midfieflder

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19 Responses to The SBI 2014 MLS Draft Big Board (Version 2.0)

  1. FRANK says:

    ARE ANY OF THESE PLAYERS ANY GOOD

  2. FRANK says:

    ARE ANY OF THSE PLAYERS ANY GOOD

  3. Frank says:

    IF I TYPE IN CAPS, CAN Y’ALL HERE ME?!?!?!?!?!?

  4. Jay in Florida says:

    Are there any prospects from the caribbean combine? I see only college listed. In recent times there has been a few foreiners drafted mainly south american kid though.

    • Jay in Florida says:

      South American kids*

    • Liam Gavin says:

      No-one knows who those guys are yet. In the coming days there should be a list of “International Players” who have been invited to the combine. The CFU combine is still going on, and only a few will end up being drafted. They’re being scouted right now. Maybe a few names will be on the next version of this list.

  5. euroman says:

    Worst list ever without teams picking in the slots you list the players…little league stuff here.

    • Liam Gavin says:

      There’s a difference between a Big Board and a Mock Draft. You’ll find the same for the pre-draft coverage of every major draft, on every major site. Little league not to be aware of that.

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      Good try Euorman. You should stick to something you understand, not US soccer.

  6. Dlewis says:

    Ives, a little while ago you sounded really sure that D.C United would take Dean first overall, did something change?

    • Mea Culpa says:

      Yes, and I also recall Ives chiming in with some condescending footnotes about how Patrick Mullins would not be the top pick over Dean. Here are a few of my favorite Ives comments on this:

      On a reader’s surprise that Dean would go over Birnbaum:

      Ives Galarcep says:
      November 22, 2013 at 9:43 PM
      There’s no wow to it. Dean’s younger, left-footed and GA. Drafts are about potential and current ability. Birnbaum is better now, but what’s his ceiling compared to Dean’s?

      On the notion that DCU would take Mullins first over Dean, who Ives described as “the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 MLS Draft”

      Reader: That’s breaking some news. Where are you getting that? Most prognosticators — including MLS’ own mock draft, have United taking Mullins. You got some inside scuttlebutt, or are you just supposing that the EJ trade and Espindola picks take United out of the running for a striker?

      Ives Galarcep says:
      December 20, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      Ed, if you have read my site for a while, which I know you have, you should know my draft projections are generally the best around. You can believe them or not, but I would suggest you watch what happens and then maybe you’ll realize there are folks you should listen to regarding this stuff, and folks you shouldn’t listen to.

      And no, this isn’t breaking news. I put out an MLS Draft Big Board a few weeks ago and Dean was at the top of that list as well. Mullins wasn’t in the Top three, and won’t be when the new one comes out either.

  7. Good Jeremy says:

    Lots of centerbacks who sound pretty good.
    I wish this was three years ago so a couple of them would be challenging Gonzo for his spot. I just can’t trust the guy.

  8. Pingback: The SBI 2014 MLS Mock Draft (Version 2.0) | Soccer By Ives

  9. Rex says:

    I wonder about two centerbacks that are top draft picks from the same team. I doubt both are stars. One is probably just made better by the other.

  10. rexdale4life says:

    TOMISLAV ZADRO FROM WISCONSIN IS THE BEST PLAYER IN THE DRAFT!