The SBI 2014 MLS Mock Draft (Version 2.0)

SteveBirnbaum (UniversityOfCalifornia)

By IVES GALARCEP

The 2014 MLS Draft is less than two weeks away and chances are that, if you’re an MLS fan, you are already thinking about just what sort of players your team could grab up in Philadelphia on Jan. 16.

In the latest installment of The SBI 2014 MLS Mock Draft (Version 2.0), we increase the projected selections to including three rounds, for a total of 57 picks, and while it would be ambitious to think we can project that many picks correctly, keep in mind that mock drafts like these (at least past the first round) are more about gauging the type of talent that can be had with the picks rather than about pinpointing which specific players will go at which picks.

As we have stated before, the 2014 MLS Draft lacks star power, but is deep in talent that can make a roster. I would argue we could see more third-round picks make teams this year than ever before, though the number of players who could be seen as potential national team types, or future stars, is less than in past years.

Much like the 2014 SBI MLS Draft Big Board, our Mock Drafts are based on player valuations cultivated from discussions with several experts, including coaches and general managers in MLS and coaches and players from the college game. Nobody can watch enough college soccer to offer reasonable evaluations of the draft class without input from outside parties, and one of the failings of some other mock drafts and draft lists you will see is people relying too heavily on their limited amount of exposure to the college game.

Something else you might notice is some pretty highly-regarded college players who are ranked pretty low both on our Big Board and our Mock Draft. It is easy to get caught up in college stats, particularly compiled by players from smaller leagues. It is also easy to get enamored by attacking midfielders who thrive in the college game, which has a fraction of the on-the-ball pressure found in MLS. For that reason, MLS teams don’t traditionally burn high draft picks on senior college playmakers. That doesn’t mean such a player can’t develop and become a star (like Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi), but it does mean you are likely to see some highly-regarded college midfielders slide in the draft.

By no means is our mock draft perfect, and every year you will see a few players who are undervalued or overvalued, but you can look at our track record of past mock drafts and big boards and you’ll see that traditionally we offer as good a measure of where players are rated by MLS teams as any other place you will find. Also note that our Big Board and Mock Draft will be updated once more before the MLS Combine, on Thursday/Friday, then one final time on January 15, the day before the 2014 MLS Draft.

Now, without further ado, here is the latest SBI MLS Mock Draft, version 2.0, including picks for the first three of the four total rounds:

SBI 2014 MLS Mock Draft (Version 2.o)

(*-Generation adidas player)

1. D.C. UNITED

*Steve Birnbaum, California, Centerback

The departure of Dejan Jakovic, and recent additions of Eddie Johnson and Fabian Espindola make choosing a centerback over a forward the more reasonable move.

So why Birnbaum over Christian Dean? Birnbaum is the better player right now and D.C. United is said not to rate Dean as highly as other teams do. D.C. United could choose to trade down and gather assets rather than be the first team in a decade to not use the No. 1 overall pick on a Generation adidas player. If a team trades up, the chances are very high that it would be to grab Dean.

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2. PHILADELPHIA

*Christian Dean, California, Centerback

The Union could go in any number of directions thanks to having the No. 6 pick as well. Dean could offer some help in the long term, and provide cover in the event Amobi Okugo plays out his contract and leaves after 2014. Despite that, we can see the Union grabbing an extremely talented young forward in Larin, who could be groomed to eventually help replace Jack McInerney, who has two years left on his contract and isn’t close to signing a new deal.

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3. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

*Andre Blake, UConn, Goalkeeper

The Whitecaps parted ways with back-up goalkeeper Brad Knighton, but could grab a goalkeeper of the future in Blake, who is clearly the top player in the draft at his position. The Jamaican-born Blake would join fellow Jamaican Darren Mattocks on the Whitecaps.

Centerback is a more pressing need, but with Birnbaum and Dean off the board, the Whitecaps can grab Blake here and go centerback later in the draft.

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4. COLUMBUS CREW

*Cyle Larin, UConn, Forward

Forward isn’t a pressing need after re-signing Dominic Oduro and Jairo Arrieta, but the Crew would find it tough passing on a player with the upside of Larin, who could be the team’s striker of the future. The 18-year-old Canadian forward boasts good side, speed and technical ability and joining the Crew would allow him time to develop.

Larin has yet to sign a Generation adidas deal despite having been offered one, and if he’s not in the draft the Crew could consider a central midfielder like Marlon Hairston or Pedro Ribeiro.

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5. FC DALLAS

*Schillo Tshuma, Maryland, Forward

He didn’t have the best sophomore season, but Tshuma’s outstanding freshman campaign wasn’t easily forgotten and he remains one of the most explosive attacking players in the pool.. For an FC Dallas team that can use some speed up top, Tshuma makes sense.

FC Dallas could be tempted to grab a Patrick Mullins here, or even trade down to pick up allocation money and select a forward or defensive midfielder later.

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6. PHILADELPHIA UNION

Patrick Mullins, Maryland, Forward/Midfielder

After tearing up the college ranks for a second straight season it might seem crazy to see Mullins slide this far, but the reality is pro scouts aren’t sure just where Mullins fits on the next level. He lacks the explosiveness to be a big-time pro forward, and any team taking him is also taking a player who has signed a guaranteed six-figure deal that will count against the salary cap (unlike a Generation adidas contract).

All that said, the Union will have a hard time passing on him if Mullins is available here. If Mullins is already gone, the Union could consider A.J. Cochran or Coastal Carolina midfielder Pedro Ribeiro.

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7. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

Eric Miller, Creighton, Right Back

The retirement of Lee Young Pyo leaves a void at right back that Miller could help step in and fill. Adding a tandem like Blake and Miller, as well as a centerback in the later rounds, would not only boost the team’s defensive depth, but having two Generation adidas players would really help the team’s salary cap situation.

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8. CHICAGO FIRE

*Marlon Hairston, Central Midfielder, Louisville

The Fire don’t have a pressing need at centerback, and Jalil Anibaba has been a competent right back, so the Fire can focus on midfield depth and Hairston is a young central midfield option with big upside.

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9. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

Pedro Ribeiro, Coastal Carolina, Attacking midfielder

Rafael Baca’s departure leaves the team with a need in central midfield and Ribero could come in and fill that void. The tall and rangy Brazilian midfielder has good vision and a deft passing touch.

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10. MONTREAL IMPACT

*A.J. Cochran, Wisconsin, Centerback

The Impact will be happy to be able to grab one of the draft’s best centerbacks at this selection, and Cochran has the tools to potentially step in right away and contribute. The question now is whether MLS will offer him a Generation adidas contract or hold off given the considerable centerback depth that already exists in the draft pool.

If Cochrane isn’t available, the Impact would be a good bet to grab a centerback like Kevin Cope.

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11. COLORADO RAPIDS

Kevin Cope, Michigan State, Centerback

The Rapids don’t have many glaring needs, so grabbing the best available player is a good route and Cope would help provide some good depth at centerback. Colorado could also consider local product Kyle Venter to help the team’s centerback depth.

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12. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

Steve Neumann, Georgetown, Forward/Midfielder

Though he could go as high as sixth overall, we can see Neumann sliding to the Revs, who would be happy to grab a player who has shown a real nose for goal, even if forward may not be his most natural position.

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13. SEATTLE SOUNDERS

Nikita Kotlov, Indiana, Left winger

Sigi Schmid is a coach who isn’t afraid to reach for a player he likes, as we’ve seen in past drafts, and we could see Schmid being interested in a quick left winger like Kotlov, who can provide service and also score goals. This is early for Kotlov to go, but Schmid has done this before.

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14. LA GALAXY

Jared Watts, Wake Forest, Defensive Midfielder

The Galaxy have enough depth at centerback, and could use a defensive midfield prospect. Bruce Arena could go with Joey Dillon at this pick, or trade out of the first round, but we’ll go with Watts to provide some central midfield depth.

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15. TORONTO FC

Kyle Venter, New Mexico, Centerback

Opinions vary on Venter, who some teams rate as a top 10 prospect, but others see as a lower-tier centerback in this year’s talent pool. For TFC, adding some central defense depth is a need  and Venter would be a very good value at No. 15.

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16. HOUSTON DYNAMO

Grant Van De Casteele, Notre Dame, Centerback

Losing Bobby Boswell makes centerback a definite need area and Van De Casteele is the best one on the board at this pick. He boasts impressive size and good feet for a big centerback.

It should be noted the Dynamo could sign highly-rated centerback Sebastian Ibeagha to a Homegrown Player deal, which could allow team to consider Ben Sweat at this pick.

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17. PORTLAND TIMBERS

Marco Franco, UC-Irvine, Centerback/Right Back

Caleb Porter loves technical defenders and there isn’t a more technical one in the draft than Franco, who is small for a centerback at 5-11, but would work well in Porter’s system. He could also help provide depth at right back as well.

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18. REAL SALT LAKE

Ben Sweat, South Florida, Left Back

RSL can use depth at left back and Sweat is the best in the draft at the position. With Chris Wingert turning 32 this year, Sweat could be his natural successor at the spot. Fast and athletic, Sweat can use some seasoning and can be brought along slowly by RSL.

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19. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

Joey Dillon, Georgetown, Defensive Midfielder

The Revs spent the second half of the 2013 season playing without a true defensive midfielder, so grabbing one in the draft should be a priority for Jay Heaps’ squad. Dillon was a four-year starter for Georgetown and has the work rate and poise on the ball to be a successful pro.

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SECOND ROUND

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20. CHIVAS USA

Mamadou Diouf, UConn, Forward

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21. SEATTLE SOUNDERS

Joe Sofia, UCLA, Centerback

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22. NEW YORK RED BULLS

Romena Bowie, VCU, Defensive Midfielder

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23. COLUMBUS CREW

Robbie Derschang, Akron, Left Winger

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24. FC DALLAS

Alex Martinez, North Carolina State, Attacking Midfielder/Forward

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25. PHILADELPHIA UNION

Luca Gimenez, Wake Forest, Right winger

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26. PORTLAND TIMBERS

Mark Sherrod, Memphis, Forward

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27. PHILADELPHIA UNION

George Fochive, UConn, Defensive Midfielder

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28. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

J.J. Koval, Stanford, Central Midfielder

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29. MONTREAL IMPACT

Nick Hagglund, Xavier, Centerback

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30. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

Taylor Peay, Washington, Centerback

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31. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

Reinaldo Brenes, Akron, Forward

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32. HOUSTON DYNAMO

Mackenzie Pridham, Cal Poly, Forward

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33. COLORADO RAPIDS

Kingsley Baiden, UCSB, Defensive Midfielder

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34. NEW YORK RED BULLS

Victor Chavez, UCLA, Forward

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35. COLORADO RAPIDS

Rafael Diaz, St. John’s, Goalkeeper
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36. PORTLAND TIMBERS

Eric Stevenson, Akron, Left Wing/Left Back

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37. REAL SALT LAKE

Bryan Ciesulka, Marquette, Central Midfielder

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38. SPORTING KC

Thomas McNamara, Clemson, Central Midfielder

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ROUND THREE

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39. PORTLAND TIMBERS

Jimmy Ockford, Louisville, Centerback

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40. CHIVAS USA

Victor Munoz, UCLA, Midfielder

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41. SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Aodhan Quinn, Akron, Right winger

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42. COLUMBUS CREW

A.J. Corrado, Indiana, Attacking Midfielder

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43. FC DALLAS

Ryan Neil, California, Left winger

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44. PHILADELPHIA UNION

Pete Caringi, UMBC, Forward

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45. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

Daniel Lovitz, Elon, Left winger

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46. PHILADELPHIA UNION

Kees Heemskerk, College of Charleston, Goalkeeper

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47. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

Justin Portillo, Coastal Carolina, Forward

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48. MONTREAL IMPACT

Enrique Cardenas, UC-Irvine, Forward

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49. COLORADO RAPIDS

Kris Tyrpak, Houston Baptist, Forward

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50. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

Wojciech Wojcik, Bradley, Forward

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51. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

Fabio Pereira, Michigan, Attacking Midfielder

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52. PHILADELPHIA UNION

Nick Walker, FDU, Centerback

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53. REAL SALT LAKE

Adnan Gabeljic, Saint Louis, Forward

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54. HOUSTON DYNAMO

Michael Kafari, New Mexico, Defensive Midfielder

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55. SEATTLE SOUNDERS

Tomislav Zadro, Wisconsin, Central Midfielder

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56. D.C. UNITED

Kadeem Dacres, UMBC, Attacking Midfielder/Left Winger

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57. SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Zach Bolden, Denver, Left Winger

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26 Responses to The SBI 2014 MLS Mock Draft (Version 2.0)

  1. Dan Williams says:

    These only take into account college players. Not the players from the Caribbean Combine. There very well be some taken in the first or second round.

  2. Gio says:

    I see new york grabbing a right back and centerback in the draft, or maybe a winger.

    • Gio says:

      Maybe aj corrado, I also think ben sweat might fall a bit in the draft and new york can take him.

      • Pete says:

        I really dont see RB taking DM in the draft , all positions that were mentioned above . Considering that we have DAX, sekagya and Christianson for that position.
        I really think that we should sign few HG like bogujevic,Allen, maul or Najem.

        • Ives Galarcep says:

          Sekagya is going to play centerback in 2014 with Holgersson/Pearce gone, and Christianson isn’t a proven commodity yet so why wouldn’t they spend a pick on a DM?

          • Ives Galarcep says:

            Teams don’t always go need, particularly in a draft that simply isn’t landing you starter-caliber options in the second round. The best CBs will be gone by the time RBNY picks, so it’s either reach for a CB (possible) or take a real talent at a position where they can use some depth.

      • Ives Galarcep says:

        Corrado isn’t a winger, not a pro one, and I highly, highly, highly doubt Ben Sweat slides out of the first round. Only good left back in the draft.

  3. over there says:

    Ives – thanks for the in-depth mock. Much appreciate the info!

  4. WK says:

    Normally CM’s fall in the draft, but I wonder if Hairston, Ribiero, or Mullins would go higher if they were GA’s. I’m curious which of these CM’s have the skill and mental toughness (like Dillon Powers)) to contribute straight-away.

  5. Pace says:

    I thought you said on twitter that Philly rates Mullins ahead of dean.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      I’ve stated that D.C. prefers Mullins to Dean. Can’t recall saying that about Philly. Don’t really see union use No. 2 on Mullins. Would expect it to be Dean or trade the pick to a team wanting Dean (if D.C. goes Birnbaum/Mullins).

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  7. FireEmUp says:

    If Harry Shipp weren’t a Chicago Fire homegrown, he’d be a top-5 pick.

  8. MDC says:

    With Oneywu leaving QPR is there any talk/chatter about a potential move to DC United given their CB need and it being as close to a hometown club as possible for him? Just asking if you have any insider info….

  9. Cam Blake says:

    24th overall in the 2nd round is actually Toronto’s pick, they got it in the Eric Hasli trade.

  10. Greg says:

    The Whitecaps have 3 center backs currently under contract, and that’s before they re-sign Demerit, so I’m not sure why SBI seems so intent on saying they “lack depth” there. Further, they’ve already got a few young goalies of the future in their residency program, meaning that drafting a “goalie of the future” (and Ousted isn’t going to be bumped by Blake) is a waste of a draft pick. Grab a backup goalie somewhere else instead of the draft. If drafting an attacking midfielder and/or right back isn’t feasible for them, they’re better off trading the pick(s).

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Having bodies at centerback doesn’t mean they have good options at centerback, or even good long term options. As for goalkeeper, not sure which if Vancouver’s academy goalkeepers you think is better than Blake as a prospect. By no means would it be a waste of a pick because Blake is one of the best goalkeeper prospects in the past five years.

      If you really don’t think Vancouver will take either a centerback or Blake with either of their high first-round picks then I’ll just go ahead and disagree with you, though if Camilo does wind up leaving it would make it somewhat more possible that they would grab a forward like Cyle Larin, who I really like as a prospect, but again, isn’t someone who is helping you right away necessarily.

  11. Ryan Uhlich says:

    I’m the assistant SID at FDU and do play by play for all the soccer games last season and this. I’m here to talk up Nick Walker as a top CB prospect in the MLS. This from two seasons of watching him and talking to the head coach (Seth Roland) weekly..

    Monster athleticism that more than makes up for average technical ability. Won’t lose an aerial duel even in MLS and will never get beat for pace.

    Tall, lanky frame that could add some bulk (and he will) but incredibly strong and quick. I’m serious when I say he won’t get beaten for pace. Also a HUGE asset on set pieces.

    As a Red Bulls fan, I hope they draft him late so he can stay local (don’t go to Philly!) and help out in a couple years, earlier even. A great sleeper prospect.

  12. Tim Fontenault says:

    If Chivas drafts Mamadou, it will have to consider changing its name to UConn United.

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  14. DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

    Prediction: DCU swithces picks with Colombus for allocation money and picks Larin in obedience to the fundamental Law of Conservation of Canadians.

    Out: DeRo, Jakovic
    In: Attakora, Larin

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  16. Joe says:

    Tomislav Zadro is the best player in the draft!