SBI 2014 MLS Draft Big Board (Version 3.0)

Andre Blake

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

 By IVES GALARCEP

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.– With the first day of the MLS Combine in the books, coaches and general managers from around the league have already begun to tweak and adjust their draft lists as they take note of new faces, and look at players who are either under-performing or standing out.

The first day of the MLS Combine is traditionally a tough one for players, and it is widely accepted that the real soccer is played in the second and third match days, as players gain familiarity with their teammates and those struggling with some fitness issues start to catch up.

Putting too much stock on the first day of the Combine is something most scouts are keenly aware of, but the first day usually opens people’s eyes to new prospects, and underrated ones people maybe haven’t seen much of before.

As I present the latest SBI MLS Draft Big Board, I have taken into account the impact of the Combine’s first day, having consulted with a variety of coaches and technical staffs and scouts, as well as having watched the matches myself.

Keep in mind that the Big Board is different from the Mock Draft because it is a list ranking players based on draft value (talent+potential+position scarcity), not based exactly on where they will go in the draft. So many variables come into play when it comes to trying to valuate players, things MLS officials look at, such as age and international status, which can adversely impact draft value.

These factors have helped re-shape the top of the Big Board a bit, with UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake really looking like the most highly-rated draft prospect. That doesn’t mean he will go No. 1 overall, but in terms of player value, and who teams see potentially ending up as the most valuable commodity yielded from this draft, Blake has edged past Christian Dean in that department.

Now, with all that in mind, here is the third edition of the 2014 SBI MLS Draft Big Board (The fourth and final SBI MLS Draft Big Board will be unveiled on Wednesday, the day before the 2014 MLS Draft.):

2014 SBI MLS DRAFT BIG BOARD (version 3.0)

(*Generation adidas candidates)

*1. ANDRE BLAKE, UConn, Goalkeeper

AndreBlakeHeadShot

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.

—————————–

*2. CHRISTIAN DEAN, California, Centerback

ChristianDeanHeadShot

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.

—————————–

*3. SCHILLO TSHUMA, Maryland, Forward

SchilloTshumaHeadShot

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.

—————————–

4. 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.

—————————–

*5. 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.

—————————–

6. PATRICK MULLINS, Maryland, Midfielder/Forward

PatrickMullinsHeadShot

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.

—————————–

7. PEDRO RIBEIRO, Coastal Carolina, Central Midfielder

PedroRibeiroHeadShot

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.

—————————–

8. KEVIN COPE, Michigan State, Centerback

KevinCope Headshot

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 positioning, toughness and confidence on the ball.

—————————–

9. 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.

—————————–

10. MAMADOU DIOUF, UConn, Forward/Midfielder

MamadouDioufHeadShot

Much like Tshuma, Diouf endured a rough season after previously being unstoppable in the tough Big East in previous years. Revelations about injuries being the cause of his struggles have eased some of the fears about his quality and now he looks very much like a player who will, or at least should, go in the top half of the first round.

—————————–

11. GRANT VAN DE CASTEELE, Notre Dame, Centerback

VanDeCasteele Headshot copy

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.

—————————–

*12. 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. His Generation adidas status only adds to his appeal, but in a year with so many quality centerbacks, he will need to step it up at the Combine to distance himself from the pack.

—————————–

13. 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.

—————————–

14. 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. A weak combine could cause him to slip to the end of the first round.

—————————–

*15. MARLON HAIRSTON, Louisville, Midfielder/Forward

MarlonHairstonHeadShot

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 have been better off staying in school so he could mature physically a bit more. He will need some years to develop, but as a Generation adidas player, teams will look at him in the first round and take a chance on his potential.

—————————–

16. 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.

—————————–

17. 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.

—————————–

18. BEN SWEAT, South Florida, Left Back

BenSweat Headshot

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.

—————————–

19. 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.

—————————–

20. TAYLOR PEAY, Washington, Centerback

TaylorPeayHeadshot

Tall (6-foot-2), athletic and quick, Peay shouldn’t have trouble transitioning to the next level and has the seasoning that comes with having come up through the Real Salt Lake youth system.

—————————–

21. J.J. KOVAL, Stanford, Central Midfielder

JJKovalHeadShot

Intelligent defensive midfielder with excellent work rate and an ability to keep the ball moving, Koval has joined Jared Watts and Joey Dillon in the conversation for best defensive midfielders in the draft.

—————————–

22. JOE SOFIA, UCLA, Centerback/RightBack

JoeSofiaHeadShot

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.

—————————–

23. ALEX MARTINEZ, North Carolina State, Attacking Midfielder

AlexMartinezMugShot

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. Probably a bit more of a defensive-minded central midfielder on the next level, he has a good engine and works well in tight spaces.

—————————–

*24. DAMION LOWE, Hartford, Centerback

The last Generation adidas player on the board, Lowe isn’t as well-known as the other centerback prospects in the draft, but as a young and tall defender with good tools, Lowe is sure to attract attention and just might creep into the first round with a strong MLS Combine.

—————————–

25. 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 better pure 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.

—————————–

26. MARK SHERROD, Memphis, Forward

Big target forward who moves well for his size and can finish when given chances. Footwork and passing touch can use some work to be a truly effective holding forward, but there are enough tools there for him to be

—————————–

27. GEORGE FOCHIVE, UConn, Defensive Midfielder

—————————–

28. NICK HAGGLUND, Xavier, Centerback

—————————–

29. REINALDO BRENES, Akron, Forward

—————————–

30. VICTOR MUNOZ, UCLA, Central Midfielder

—————————–

31. ANDRE LEWIS, Jamaica, Forward/Midfielder

——————————

32. RONNY MENDOZA, Ecuador, Centerback

——————————

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

—————————–

34. ROBBIE DERSCHANG, Akron, Left Winger

—————————–

35. VICTOR CHAVEZ, UCLA, Forward

—————————–

36. FABIO PEREIRA, Michigan, Attacking Midfielder

—————————-

37- JUSTIN PORTILLO, Coastal Carolina, Forward

—————————–

38. MACKENZIE PRIDHAM, Cal Poly, Forward

—————————–

39. JIMMY OCKFORD, Louisville, Centerback

—————————–

40. PIERRE OMANGA, Southern New Hampshire, Forward

—————————–

41. ALEC SUNDLY, California, Midfielder

—————————–

42. KINGSLEY BAIDEN, UCSB, Defensive Midfielder

—————————–

43. KADEEM DACRES, UMBC, Midfielder

—————————–

44. THOMAS MCNAMARA, Clemson, Midfielder

 —————————–

45. BRYAN CIESULKA, Marquette, Central Midfielder

——————————

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

—————————–

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

—————————–

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

—————————–

49. PETE CARINGI, UMBC, Forward

——————————

50. AODHAN QUINN, Akron, Right Winger

—————————–

51. TOMISLAV ZADRO, Wisconsin, Central Midfielder

—————————–

52. TESHO AKINDELE, Colorado School of Mines, Forward

—————————–

53. KEES HEEMSKERK, College of Charleston, Goalkeeper

—————————–

54. ENRIQUE CARDENAS, UC-Irvine, Forward

—————————-

55. QUINTON CHRISTINA, Curacao, Forward/Defender

—————————-

56. ZACH BOLDEN, Denver, Left winger

—————————–

57. DANIEL LOVITZ, Elon, Left Winger

——————————

58. MICHAEL KAFARI, New Mexico, Defensive Midfielder

——————————

59. ADNAN GABELJIC, Saint Louis, Forward 

 —————————–

60. NICK WALKER, FDU, Centerback

—————————–

61. KRISTOPHER TYRPAK, Houston Baptist, Forward

—————————–

62. RYAN NEIL, California, Left Winger

—————————–

63. JACOB BUSHUE, Indiana, Defensive midfielder/Centerback

——————————

64. WOJCIECH WOJCIK, Bradley, Forward

——————————

65. ANDY LUBAHN, Wake Forest, Forward

—————————–

66. CHRIS RITTER, Northwestern, Defensive Midfielder

 —————————–

67. HARRISON PETTS, Indiana, Right Winger

—————————–

68. ALEX SWEETIN, Saint Louis, Midfielder

——————————

69. TYLER GIBSON, Charlotte, Midfielder

—————————–

70. PATRICK SLOGIC, Cornell, Centerback

—————————–

71. ZACH BARNES, Creighton, Central Midfieflder

—————————–

72. MIGUEL GONZALEZ, Seattle University, Forward

——————————

73. SUNNY JANE, Maryland, Right Winger

 —————————– 

74. CHRIS DUVALL, Wake Forest, Right Back

—————————–

75.  MICHAEL CALDERON, New Mexico, Attacking Midfielder

 —————————–

76. FABIAN OTTE, North Carolina State, Goalkeeper

—————————–

77. JAKE PACE, Maryland, Forward

—————————–

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

—————————–

79. MICHAEL HARRIS, Washington,

—————————–

80. PAUL DILLON, Marquette, Left Back

—————————–

This entry was posted in College Soccer, Featured, MLS Draft 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to SBI 2014 MLS Draft Big Board (Version 3.0)

  1. MichaelHarrisFlipThrowLegend says:

    Harris to San Jose in the fourth round! Calling it now!

  2. euroman says:

    So Ives honestly, you must admit this the weakest draft in history.

    • kyle says:

      I’m not claiming to know about the depth of this draft but I wouldn’t mistake a lack of star goalscorers for a weak draft

    • MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

      Idk who’s who in NCAA Men’s soccer. But I think as MLS teams invest more in their academies they will prefer to get new blood from that source over the college game.

  3. MLScorrespondent says:

    If this guy is not in it, link to youtube.com, am not watching MLS next year. GM’s obviously need to watch Brad Pitt’s Moneyball to get a clue.

  4. Gratuitous Stepovers says:

    Steve Neumann

    link to youtube.com

    Here’s some highlights!

    • Jackofalltrades says:

      The other kid is more exciting, looks like a phenom. But what the hell do I know , only have watched “moneyball” 100 times.

  5. Jasipati says:

    Is Mamadou Diouf international ?

  6. jj says:

    Where would the HGP’s rank if they were in the draft?

  7. Chris says:

    It what universe is Aodhan Quinn a Right Winger? Hard to take you seriously when you list a Herman Trophy semi-finalist way out of position.