The Major League Soccer Combine takes center stage next week, culminating with the MLS SuperDraft on Friday.
Pay attention to the combine participants, as last season just one first round pick wasn’t involved (Fabian Herbers, a Generation Adidas pick). This year, the Generation Adidas class has been released and MLS also announced the signing of four players to contracts.
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We have some thoughts on several prospects, just from watching the college game a bit. Many of these names you’ve seen in this space before:
If he hasn’t found his fortune overseas after a trial with Everton, look out for Monmouth goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky. He’s a tall, dedicated, starting caliber backstop who starred with the New York Red Bulls U-23 side last year. If he lasts to 17, RBNY would be happy to snap him up.
Lalas Abubakar is an impressive center back from Dayton, and we have to imagine Columbus has kept a close eye on him.
A pair of diminutive midfielders to watch: Kentucky mid Napo Matsoso is the complete package with terrific vision. Kwame Awuah is capable of plenty. The UConn midfielder is of Canadian stock, though more of a Whitecaps type than TFC or Montreal.
Russell Cicerone is a electric playmaker from the University at Buffalo, an exceptionally fast sprinter and fiery competitor who can hit set pieces for service and scores.
This is the draft order, though there certainly will be more changes. Last year alone, we saw an NBA-style trade in the Top Four. Chicago took Jack Harrison first overall, then sent him to New York City FC for Brandon Vincent. DC United traded up to take Julian Buescher, and four other trades dotted the first round.
Here’s a rapid fire mock draft based on need, notion, and a pinch of geography:
- Minnesota United — Jeremy Ebobisse, FWD (Duke)
- Atlanta United — Miles Robinson, DEF (Syracuse)
- Chicago Fire — Abu Danladi, FWD (UCLA)
- Houston Dynamo — Brandon Aubrey, DEF (Notre Dame)
- Columbus Crew — Lalas Abubakar, DEF (Dayton)
- San Jose Earthquakes — Jackson Yueill, FWD (UCLA)
- Vancouver Whitecaps — Brian Wright, FWD (Vermont)
- Atlanta United — Reagan Dunk, DEF (Denver)
- Columbus Crew — Russell Cicerone, FWD (Buffalo)
- Portland Timbers — Shamit Shome, MID (FC Edmonton)
- Chicago Fire — Jacori Hayes, MID (Wake Forest)
- DC United — Chris Odoi-Atsem, DEF (Maryland)
- Real Salt Lake — Adonijah Reid, FWD (Canada U-20)
- Sporting KC — Napo Matsoso, MID (Kentucky)
- Colorado Rapids —Daniel Johnson, MID (Louisville)
- Seattle Sounders — Francis De Vries, DEF (St. Francis PA)
- New York Red Bulls — Eric Klenofsky, GK (Monmouth)
- FC Dallas — Jorge Gomez Sanchez, FWD (Temple)
- Montreal Impact –Nick DePuy, FWD (UCSB)
- New England Revolution — Julian Gressel, MID (Providence)
- Toronto FC — Liam Callahan, DEF/MID (Syracuse)
- Seattle Sounders — Justin Schmidt, DEF (Washington)
FYI: There are myriad college players who won’t get drafted or even, perhaps, a camp invite. Some of these may have to do with their requiring an international roster spot (South Carolina’s Daniel Deakin is electric and New Hampshire’s Chris Wingate* is a gamer) and some may just not have their names out there (UMass-Lowell attacker Wulito Fernandes is at the Combine, while Albany center back Keith Traut is one of a wide variety of big, physical, American-style defenders who won’t be in California).
*EDIT: Sports agency Global Premier Management says Wingate has a US passport, which would significantly boost his stock.