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MLS SuperDraft: What you need to know (and more mock)

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Major League Soccer’s SuperDraft is set to being at 3 p.m. EDT, and some clubs will see their franchise altered with the addition of a future star.

That’s not overblown, not now, not ever, and it isn’t limited to the top picks. Without further ado, here’s what to know before the Draft.

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1) No.1 matters… — While it was certainly more of a crapshoot during its first few editions — the draft started in 2000 — the last few drafts have provided downright stars.

Jack Harrison’s performance after NYCFC selected him out of Wake Forest last season capped a three-year run that includes Jamaican superstar backstop Andre Blake (UConn) and Canadian whizkid Cyle Larin (UConn).

2) …But so do the latter stages — While Homegrown kids and young prospects from outside the United States can change the dynamic of a club, smart drafting gives teams an incredible edge (And we’re not just talking about probable bargains like Colorado taking Dominique Badji at 67th in 2015).

Here are some fantastic bargains, second round or later, in MLS history:

51st overall (2010) — Sean Johnson, Chicago
50th overall (2007) — Luis Robles, DC United
42nd overall (2008) — Geoff Cameron, Houston
37th overall (2006) — Jonathan Bornstein, Chivas USA
36th overall (2004) – Michael Bradley, MetroStars
35th overall (2000) – Nick Rimando, Miami Fusion
29th overall (1997) – Kevin Hartman, LA Galaxy
28th (2010) — Justin Morrow, San Jose
27th (2012) — Miguel Ibarra, Portland Timbers
27th (2001) — Edson Buddle, Columbus
23rd (2009) — Graham Zusi, Kansas City
18th (2010) — Tim Ream, New York Red Bulls
17th (2006) — Jozy Altidore, Metrostars

3) The Combine does matter — While a lot of leeway is given to players pushed out of position by the Combine, where center backs often are forced out wide and center mids out to the wings, you’re in a bad spot if you’re a forward who can’t generate a ton of offense.

Some players have dropped out of the first round for this reason, while the Combine has helped some players significantly. Daniel Johnson started the week as the 15th pick in my mock and Zeiko Lewis wasn’t in the picture. Their fortunes have changed significantly.

[ MORE: One Combine star’s 10,403-mile journey ]

4) Trades for days — With Minnesota United and Atlanta United picking first and second, those picks could be more likely used as currency. And even after the dropoff between franchise changers and longtime starters, teams will want their guy. Expect a lot of movement. In some cases, like last year’s trade between Chicago and Philadelphia, it may even be NBA-styled post-pick trades.

5) Final Mock SuperDraft —

  1. Minnesota United — Jeremy Ebobisse, FWD (Duke)
  2. Atlanta United — Miles Robinson, DEF (Syracuse)
  3. Chicago Fire — Jonathan Lewis, FWD (Akron)
  4. Houston Dynamo —Lalas Abubakar, DEF (Dayton)
  5. Columbus Crew — Jackson Yueill, FWD (UCLA)
  6. San Jose Earthquakes — Brandon Aubrey, DEF (Notre Dame)
  7. Vancouver Whitecaps —Abu Danladi, FWD (UCLA)
  8. Atlanta United —Daniel Johnson, MID (Louisville)
  9. Columbus Crew — Reagan Dunk, DEF (Denver)
  10. Portland Timbers —Brian Wright, FWD (Vermont)
  11. Chicago Fire — Shamit Shome, MID (FC Edmonton)
  12. DC United — Nick DePuy, FWD (UCSB)
  13. Real Salt Lake —Chris Odoi-Atsem, DEF (Maryland)
  14. Sporting KC — Napo Matsoso, MID (Kentucky)
  15. Colorado Rapids — Francis De Vries, DEF (St. Francis PA)
  16. Seattle Sounders —Jacori Hayes, MID (Wake Forest)
  17. New York Red Bulls —Eric Klenofsky, GK (Monmouth)
  18. FC Dallas — Niko Hansen, MID (New Mexico)
  19. Montreal Impact – Adonijah Reid, FWD (Canada U-20)
  20. New England Revolution —Russell Cicerone, FWD (Buffalo)
  21. Toronto FC — Zeiko Lewis, MID (Boston College)
  22. Seattle Sounders — Walker Hume, DEF (UNC)

And, since it’s insane to nab second rounders in order (though we’re insane), here’s the batch we expected to go in the second.

Brian Nana-Sinkam, DEF (Stanf0rd); Liam Callahan, DEF (Syracuse); Justin Schmidt, DEF (Washington); Julian Gressel, MID (Providence); Chris Nanco, FWD (Syracuse); Kwame Awuah, MID (UConn); Colton Storm, DEF (UNC); Wulito Fernandes, FWD (UMass-Lowell); David Goldsmith, FWD (Butler); Jordan Wilson, DEF (Kentucky); Jorge Gomez Sanchez, FWD (Temple); Jakob Nerwinski, DEF (UConn); Brandt Bronico, MID (Charlotte); Guillermo Delgado, FWD (Delaware); Daniel Deakin, FWD (South Carolina); Christian Flath, MID (Rider); Austin Ledbetter, DEF (SIUE); Alec Farrell, GK (Wake Forest); Eddie Sanchez, MID (Portland); Christian Thierjung, FWD (Cal); Eric Lynch, MID (Wright State).

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Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.