MLS SuperDraft Recap – Who’s Going Where

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Major League Soccer’s off-season highlight is the SuperDraft, which kicked off today at 12pm from Philadelphia ET.

Throughout the day we will keep you updated on all the news from the SuperDraft as well as constantly updating all the picks as they come in.

For more information about the SuperDraft, make sure to check out Richard Farley’s ‘Guide to Major League Soccer’s annual (super) Draft.’

FIRST ROUND

1. Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union via trade with D.C. United): The 6’4″ 175 lbs University of Connecticut product was sensational in his three years at Storrs. This season, the Generation Adidas player registered 10 shutouts (0.75 GAA and 10-3-8 record) to win the American Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year award and was a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy. An athletically gifted shot-stopper, the Jamaican is known for his strength on crosses, leadership, strong organization skills, good touch on the ball and positivity.

2. Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United via trade with Philadelphia Union): The 6’2″ 180 lbs Cal centerback appeared in 19 matches for the Golden Bears, finishing the season with an impressive 10 goals and one assist. The NSCAA First Team All-American was a Hermann Trophy semifinalist and is known as a complete player with impressive aerial skills, distribution and calm on the ball.

3. Christian Dean (Vancouver Whitecaps): The 6’3″ 198 lbs Dean anchored a Cal defensive unit along with Birnbaum that allowed 21 goals in as many games and recorded seven shutouts. The First Team All-Pac-12 player scored one goal and added four assists on the way to an Elite 8 finish. The athletic left-footed centerback is known for a sensational touch on the ball and galloping runs out of the back.

4. Steve Neumann (New England Revolution): The 6′ 165 lbs striker from Georgetown was a NSCAA second-team All-American and First Team All-Big East selection after notching 10 goals and six assists in 21 games (all starts) to lead the Big East in scoring. A clever player with plenty of flicks and tricks, Neumann is a highly intelligent player capable of creating his own shot and setting others up just as well.

5. Eric Miller (Montreal Impact via trade with FC Dallas): The 6’1″ 175 lbs midfielder out of Creighton earned Second Team All-Great Lakes region honors in midfield after starting all 20 games and tallying three goals and one assist. The Generation Adidas man is versatile player who can play in the back or the midfield and is known for his fantastic stamina and aerial prowess.

6. Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas via trade with Philadelphia Union): The 6’1″ 170 lbs striker from Calgary flew up the draft boards after a strong combine. Akindele attended Division 2 Colorado School of Mines where he leaves the school’s all-time goals leader after scoring 19 goals in 19 matches this year. A powerful, strong striker who can turn on a dime.

7. Andre Lewis (Vancouver Whitecaps): The 5’9″ 145 lbs Jamaican U-17 and U-20 midfielder recently broke into the senior Reggae Boyz side in 2012. Lewis played for national soccer power St. George’s College in Jamaica and is known as a technical, creative midfielder who plays on either flank of midfield.

8. Damion Lowe (Seattle Sounders): The 6’3″ 175 lbs Jamaican played three seasons at the University of Hartford where he was named second team all-Northeast region and first team all-America East Conference in 2013. The former Jamaica U-20 international represented his country at the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship.

9. JJ Koval (San Jose Earthquakes): The 6’1″ 175 lbs Stamford midfielder was the team captain who started all 21 games, tallying two goals and one assist to earn First Team All-Pac 12 honors. A solid holding midfielder, Koval is known for great vision and strong tackling ability.

10. Nick Hagglund (Toronto FC via trade with Philadelphia Union): The 6’1″ 187 lbs defender out of Xavier was named First Team All-Big East and Big East Defensive Player of the Year after anchoring a defense that allowed 19 goals and recorded six shutouts. Hagglund is the complete package for a centerback – physically imposing, strong, fast, smart and with a good touch and slick distribution skills.

11. Patrick Mullins (NE Revolution via trade with Colorado Rapids): The 6’1″ 172 lbs striker led Maryland to the NCAA College Cup championship final with 19 goals and eight assists in the regular season, followed by five goals and two assists in the postseason. An active striker known for making clever runs behind defenses, Mullins is a left-footed player who knows how to finish.

12. Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids via trade with NE Revolution): The 6′ 157 lbs box-to-box midfielder helped Louisville to the American Athletic Conference title with three goals and two assists. A Generation Adidas player, Hairston is known for fantastic technical ability as well as pace and timing.

13. Marco Franco (Chicago Fire): The 5′ 11″ 155 lbs right-back started all 23 matches for UC Irvine and was named Big West Defender of the Year after helping his team to the Big West Championship and a Sweet 16 finish in the NCAA tournament. A composed, quick defender, Franco is technically good on the ball and can also play center-back.

14. Ben Sweat (Columbus Crew): The 6′ 2″ 175 lbs defender is an attack minded fullback who earned First Team All-American Athletic Conference honors after helping South Florida to the AAC tournament title. A strong left-back, Sweat is good on the ball and dangerous on the attack.

15. Pedro Ribeiro (Philadelphia Union via trade with Toronto FC): The 6′ 4″ 208 lbs Brazilian midfielder scored 11 goals and seven assists in 23 games with Coastal Carolina in 2013. A MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist, Ribeiro is versatile enough to play anywhere on the field but is a particularly good defender.

16. AJ Cochran (Houston Dynamo): The 6′  3″ 195 lbs defender from the University of Wisconsin was named the Big Ten Defender of the Year after starting all 21 of the Badgers’ contests and scoring three goals. A monster in the air, Cochran also has good feet and a good sense of positioning.

17. Schillo Tshuma (Portland Timbers): The 5′ 10″ 162 lbs University of Maryland striker scored six goals and one assist in 25 games for the Terrapins before signing a Generation Adidas contract in January. Creative, tricky and lightning-quick many feel Tshuma under-performed this season but that the Zimbabwe native has more potential than Maryland teammate Patrick Mullins.

18. Ryan Neil (Real Salt Lake): The 6′ 1″ 165 lbs midfielder is the third Cal product taken in the first round of the SuperDraft after earning All-Pac-12 second team honors in his senior season. Fast, athletic and a fantastic dribbler, many feel Neil could be reborn into an attacking full-back in MLS.

19. Grant Van De Casteele (New England Revolution): The 6′ 2″ 165 lbs Notre Dame product anchored the Irish defense that allowed 18 goals and recorded 10 shutouts en route to winning the first NCAA title in the program’s history. VDC was named to the All-ACC Third Team and is known as a sizeable centerback with good feet and a penchant for attack.

Report: Wenger ready to pay Ozil, Sanchez club record deals

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Arsenal knows its departure from the UEFA Champions League has to be a short one, and that keeping its two best attackers around is imperative.

That’s why Arsene Wenger is preparing to make Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez the top paid players in Arsenal history, according to a report from The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson.

The contract status of both players has been a touchy one this season, and Sanchez especially has been linked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe (including London neighbors Chelsea).

[ MORE: Yaya to stay at Man City ]

But perhaps the Gunners’ FA Cup triumph over Chelsea has Ozil and Sanchez feeling good vibes about the Emirates Stadium set, and Arsenal is ready to pounce. According to the report:

Wenger has told the board that he thinks he can win the Premier League if this group stays together and is supplemented by no more than two or three key additions. Ozil is understood already to have been offered more than £250,000 a week and the club are ready to go to around £280,000 for both him and Sanchez.

The Gunners need both players healthy and happy heading into next season, and appropriate additions as well (A top striker is a must. Again). Wage structure is important, but Arsenal will have a blessing in disguise if another player can make a legit case he deserves to be paid like Ozil and Sanchez any time soon.

West Ham, Everton, and the superstar striker’s need for the Champions League

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Come up with a list of active elite level strikers, and it’s likely to be a short one filled with names from UEFA Champions League clubs.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Costa, Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowski, Edinson Cavani, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Harry Kane, even Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Rarely do names like these move to a non-UCL club while in their prime, and it’s just as uncommon to see them stay at clubs which have failed to qualify for the UCL.

The money, the prestige, the endorsements; All are amplified by the world stage. Given the massive import of their domestic stage and spotlight, Premier League sides have bucked this trend on occasion — see Romelu Lukaku — but it’s the exception to the rule.

That’s what puts an ambitious club like West Ham United between a rock and a hard place. The Irons have been vocal about their desires to bring in a top-end striker, and it’s likely they’d be happy to spend what it takes to attract Alexandre Lacazette, Aubameyang, or Cavani to town.

Lyon reportedly rejected a $45 million bid for Lacazette last season, admitting that ultimately the player’s desires would determine his future. Higuain, too, was linked to chairman David Gold’s wallet before moving to Juventus. Carlos Bacca also saw his future connected to the Irons.

Instead, Gold landed Andre Ayew from Swansea, and had to hope Andy Carroll could stay healthy or Enner Valencia would deliver. Not a striker, Dimitri Payet apparently decided to skip town soon after West Ham’s Europa League exit at the hands of Astra Giurgiu.

Now it’s Kelechi Iheanacho being linked to the London Stadium, another hopeful swing from the Irons that points a strong finger at the problem: West Ham can be as ambitious as it likes, but it’s going to need a miracle to pull an elite striker to London without European football.

And it shouldn’t happen, but what if Everton is bumped from the UEL in the third qualifying round or playoff next year? Will Lukaku follow Payet’s lead and sink another team from joining the discussion? Though an argument can be made it’s better for Everton to lose those summer games, the Toffees very much need to succeed in the UEL qualifying and also show signs of strength in the early PL docket. That’s the unforgiving life of sitting on the outskirts of the powerful tier.

Every team at every level is searching for the next elite striker. Some, like West Ham, will need to luck into a young buck on the rise or a flawed striker finding his potential. And how do they hold onto that player, one who will have alerted the big boys to his arrival, without qualifying for Europe? It’s improbable.

The ability of teams like Chelsea and Liverpool to compete for a European slot in the PL standings thanks to missing out on the UCL the year before signals hope for clubs like Everton and West Ham. And five Premier League sides competing in the UCL this year could extend an invitation to stay longer in the Top Seven discussion for sides like Southampton and Leicester City, too.

So this summer’s striker captures are huge for Slaven Bilic and David Gold. This is a window the league’s “next group” won’t have open annually, and West Ham’s hopes of barging into the discussion again hinge on who shows up by August.

Toure reportedly set for another year with Man City

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Never say never.

Yaya Toure looks like his season-long peace with Pep Guardiola will stretch into a new season, with Toure’s combustible agent admitting talks with Manchester City regarding a new contract.

Dimitri Seluk is among the worst agents on Earth Toure’s agent, and said, “We are talking. We will see what happens but City is a club that is in Yaya’s heart.”

[ MORE: Barcelona names new manager ]

But Seluk has not been in City’s heart, having made numerous poor decisions on when to open his mouth, deepening a rift between Toure and Guardiola that kept the player off the pitch for some time. Earlier this Spring, Seluk also suggested that Toure could join Manchester United.

So, yeah, smart guy. Hates microphones and publicity.

Toure turned 34 this month, and became a fixture for Guardiola once he broke into the lineup. The midfielder made nine-straight starts around the turn of the calendar, scoring five goals in the Premier League.

Wolfsburg holds off Braunschweig with Vieirinha blast (video)

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Outworked and outperformed in the first half of their playoff second leg at Eintracht Braunschweig, Wolfsburg needed a wake-up call to steady its hopes of staying in the Bundesliga.

That came off the boot of longtime right back Vieirinha, as the Portuguese veteran ran onto a rebound and fired a 17-yard arrow into the goal to boost Wolfsburg aggregate lead to 2-0.

[ MORE: Barcelona names new manager ]

That would mean the 2.Bundesliga hosts would need three goals to give the second tier a third promotion this season. An 82nd minute red card to Braunschweig’s Maximilian Sauer effectively ended those far-off dreams.

Ingolstadt and Darmstadt were relegated in the season, and Stuttgart and Hannover were promoted from 2.Bundesliga.