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2018 MLS Mock Draft: LAFC, Galaxy hold the keys

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Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.

There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.

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An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.

Here’s how we think the draft could play out:

  1. LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
  2. LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
  3. DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
  4. Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
  5. Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
  6. Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
  7. Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
  8. New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
  9. New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
  10. Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
  11. FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
  12. San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
  13. Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
  14. Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
  15. Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
  16. New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
  17. Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
  18. Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
  19. New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
  20. Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
  21. Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
  22. Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
  23. Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson

There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.

Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.

Report: Boca Juniors boss, ex-MLS MVP Schelotto up for LAFC job

Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images
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Many have touted Bob Bradley as the first coach in Los Angeles FC history given his terrific record and time at nearby Chivas USA.

But it’s another MLS legend who is getting the headlines in the race for the gig, as Sports Illustrated reports that Guillermo Barros Schelotto is a candidate for the job.

Schelotto led Argentine club Lanus to the Copa Sudamericana crown in his first managerial stint, and was appointed Palermo boss before certification issues led to his resignation. He has moved onto manage continental super power Boca Juniors.

[ MORE: Juve beats Monaco | Ajax topples Lyon ]

He spent one season with Gimnasia La Plata after a terrific run with Columbus Crew that saw him nab an MLS Cup and two Supporters’ Shields. Schelotto starred for Gimnasia to start his career before making 300-plus appearances with Boca Juniors, and was capped 10 times by Argentina.

Between Bradley or Schelotto, let alone the Javier Hernandez rumors, LAFC looks poised to make a splash ahead of its 2018 debut.

Report: El Tri’s Chicharito to LAFC in 2018

AP Photo/John Raoux
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It makes a lot of sense, you know?

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will turn 30 in 2018, not a spring chicken for a striker but still plenty productive if healthy.

His national team, Mexico, will likely be revving its engines for the World Cup, and won’t be upset to have the forward playing a bit less soccer and a lot closer to home.

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And Los Angeles FC will want to make a massive mark as it seeks to butt its head into a market dominated by the LA Galaxy (and, perhaps still then, Mexico national teamer Giovani Dos Santos).

So, tell us more, Steve Brisendine of MLSSoccer.com:

“[LAFC] are going to do everything possible to sign the current Bayer Leverkusen player, whose contract ends in 2018 and could therefore leave for a reduced fee. That’s what AS.com has confirmed with sources close to the project. LAFC hope to announce their new manager this spring and dream, a little later, to do the same with Javier Hernandez, aka Chicharito.”

Make it happen. Make. It. Happen. We’re already reserving his spot on our MLS fantasy teams.

Ozil working on new Arsenal deal, eyes L.A. later: “City inspires me”

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Germany and Arsenal star Mesut Ozil has volunteered Major League Soccer as a future destination.

The 27-year-old playmaker is in discussions with Arsenal about extending his contract, which runs through 2018.

[ MORE: Ozil wants number change ]

Assuming a four- or five-year deal, that would have Ozil in his his early thirties with a year left on a contract.

And he’s got something in common with Randy Newman. From Sky Sports:

“In football, you can never say never. You don’t know what will happen. I had a good time in Germany. That was a lot of fun.

“Eventually [moving to MLS] could be an option. I have fun everywhere. My fans know that I like to spend my vacation in Los Angeles, because the city inspires me.”

Let’s do some quick math: Signing a new deal this season would likely take him through 2021 or 2022. Ozil will be 31 at EURO 2020, and turn 32 early the next season.

With an extended offseason, we could see Mesut Ozil at LAFC or the Galaxy come March 2021. It would be a bit like current Impact star Ignacio Piatti to the nth degree.

VIDEO: Hilarious Ferrell talks LAFC ownership, MLS on Fallon Tonight

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Will Ferrell is a part-owner of Los Angeles Football Club who will join Major League Soccer in 2018.

He is also hilarious, which is probably what brought you here.

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Speaking with Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show, the actor spoke about his role at LAFC and how he plans to be a “George Steinbrenner type” owner.

He also got the audience to chant LAFC repeatedly and Ferrell is bringing plenty of excitement to the party two years before the expansion franchise — who also have Magic Johnson, Mia Hamm and several other star names as part owners — even enter MLS.

Imagine what Ferrell will be like in 2018 when LAFC begin play in their new Downtown home… I’m assuming “Frank the Tank” will made an appearance and will be in with the LAFC Ultras celebrating goals. Just a hunch.

[ MORE: MLS worried about CSL riches? ] 

Click play on the video above to see Ferrell in full flow, plus his thoughts on the now infamous Cleveland youth who was kicked out of a co ed soccer league is comedy gold.

Let me hear you: “LA” clap clap, “FC” clap clap.