INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 17: MLS commissioner Don Garber speaks prior to the 2013 MLS SuperDraft Presented by Adidas at the Indiana Convention Center on January 17, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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MLS Draft: Minnesota take Danladi with first overall pick

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After much speculation about trading the #1 pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, Minnesota has stuck to its guns.

Prior to its first season in Major League Soccer, Minnesota United kept the first pick and selected Abu Danladi from UCLA. The 21-year-old left his home country of Ghana in 2011 to come to the United States, pursuing soccer and getting an education at the same time. Danladi has been an enigma this draft season. Mock drafts across the nation had him anywhere from first to third to fifth to seventh. He becomes the 5th first overall pick from UCLA.

There were plenty of rumors that Minnesota could trade the pick, with New England most heavily involved, according to numerous reports on social media. Instead, they held strong and took a player with incredible upside.

Syracuse defender Miles Robinson went #2 to Atlanta United, the first Syracuse player ever taken in the top 5 of the draft and only the third ever for the program taken in the first round after Alex Bono and Skyler Thomas two years ago. Robinson is a rising name in the USMNT youth ranks, and is challenging the likes of Cameron Carter-Vickers and other big names for a starting spot in the US U-20 team.

Chicago traded the #3 pick to NYCFC in exchange for $250,000 of General Allocation Money to take Akron forward Jonathan Lewis. Houston traded the #4 pick to Portland in exchange for $100,000 of General Allocation Money, an international roster spot, and the #10 pick in order to select Duke’s Jeremy Ebobisse. NYCFC also paid GAM to Seattle for the #16 pick. In the second round, Toronto traded both its early picks to Chicago (26 and 27 overall) for $75,000 of Targeted Allocation Money.

The biggest surprise so far seems to be Houston’s pick of Hofstra midfielder Joseph Holland at #10. Holland is 24 years old and an international, so he seemed to have less value than the position he was taken. The biggest drop seemed to belong to Notre Dame defender Brandon Aubrey, who we had going #6 in our final mock draft, but fell to Toronto near the end of the 1st round.

DRAFT RESULTS

Round 1:

1) Minnesota: Abu Danladi, FWD (UCLA)
2) Atlanta: Miles Robinson, DEF (Syracuse)
3) NYCFC (via Chicago): Jonathan Lewis, FWD (Akron)
4) Portland (via Houston): Jeremy Ebobisse, FWD (Duke)
5) Columbus: Lalas Abubakar, DEF (Dayton)
6) San Jose: Jackson Yueill, MF (UCLA)
7) Vancouver: Jakob Nerwinski, DEF (UConn)
8) Atlanta (via Orlando): Julian Gressel, MF (Providence)
9) Columbus (via New England): Niko Hansen, FWD (New Mexico)
10) Houston (via Portland): Joe Holland, MF (Hofstra)
11) Chicago (via Philadelphia): Daniel Johnson, MF (Louisville)
12) D.C. United: Chris Odoi-Atsem, DEF (Maryland)
13) Real Salt Lake: Reagan Dunk, DEF (Denver)
14) Sporting KC: Colton Storm, DEF (UNC)
15) Colorado (via LA Galaxy): Sam Hamilton, MF (Denver)
16) NYCFC: Kwame Awuah, DEF (UConn)
17) New York Red Bulls: Zeiko Lewis, MF (Boston College)
18) FC Dallas: Jacori Hayes, MF (Wake Forest)
19) Montreal: Nick DePuy, FWD (UC Santa Barbara)
20) New England (via Colorado): Brian Wright, FWD (Vermont)
21) Toronto: Brandon Aubrey, DEF (Notre Dame)
22) Seattle: Brian Nana-Sinkam, DEF (Stanford)

Round 2:

23) Minnesota: Alec Ferrell, GK (Wake Forest)
24) Colorado (via Atlanta): Liam Callahan, DEF (Syracuse)
25) Philadelphia (via Minnesota and Chicago): Marcus Epps, MF (USF)
26) Chicago (via Toronto and Houston): Stefan Cleveland, GK (Louisville)
27) Chicago (via Toronto, Montreal and Columbus): Guillermo Delgado, FWD (Delaware)
28) San Jose: Lindo Mfeka, MF (USF)
29) Vancouver: Francis DeVries, DEF (St. Francis)
30) Houston (via Orlando): Jake McGuire, GK (Tulsa)
31) New England: Napo Matsoso, MF (Kentucky)
32) Portland: Michael Amick, DEF (UCLA)
33) Philadelphia: Aaron Jones, DEF (Clemson)
34) D.C. United: Eric Klenofsky, GK (Monmouth)
35) Real Salt Lake: Justin Schmidt, DEF (Washington)
36) Houston (via Sporting KC): Danilo Radjen, DEF (Akron)
37) FC Dallas (via LA Galaxy): Walker Hume, DEF (UNC)
38) NYCFC: Jalen Brown, FWD (Xavier)
39) NY Red Bulls: Ethan Kutler, FWD (Colgate)
40) FC Dallas: Adonijah Reid, FWD (Canada Soccer)
41) Montreal: Shamit Shome, MF (FC Edmonton)
42) Minnesota (via Colorado and Philadelphia): Thomas de Villardi, MF (Delaware)
43) D.C. United (via Portland and Toronto): Jo Vetle Rimstad, DEF (Radford)
44) Seattle: Dominic Oduro, DEF (FC Nordsaelland)

Former England manager Graham Taylor dies

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Graham Taylor has died aged 72.

It is believed the former manager of Watford, England and Aston Villa suffered a heart attack on Thursday morning.

Taylor’s family released a statement confirming he passed away, saying they were “devastated” by his sudden death.

“With the greatest sadness, we have to announce that Graham passed away at his home early this morning of a suspected heart attack. The family are devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss.”

Taylor, a former player for Grimsby Town and Lincoln City, led both Watford and Aston Villa to second place finishes in the top-flight during his distinguished managerial career which saw him work his way up through the leagues.

He will be largely remembered for his first spell at Watford as he took the Hornets from the fourth division to the top-flight while in charge from 1977-87. He also finished second in the top-flight to Liverpool in 1983 and lost in an FA Cup final to Everton in 1984. He also steered Aston Villa to runners up spot in the top-flight in 1989-90.

With England he failed to reach the 1994 World Cup finals in the USA, coaching the Three Lions from 1990-93.

It is expected that Watford will hold a minute silence before their game against Middlesbrough on Saturday in honor of Taylor, as tributes continue to pour in from across the soccer world.

MLS Combine, SuperDraft status report: Day 1

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Sunday was the first of three match days for the Major League Soccer combine, a prelude to the 2017 MLS SuperDraft on Friday.

In honesty, players should only see their stocks rise from solid performances, as the Combine matches are a mishmash of high-flying talent often shoehorned into positions or formations.

[ MORE: Harkes wins Hermann Trophy ]

For example, players who work best at center back are often moved to fullback, where they can be hassled by electric wingers. And a large number of wing prospects with terrific ability up top sometimes fall to a more defensively-responsible outside position.

The biggest shakeup in terms of the draft happened off the field, as Akron freshman Jonathan Lewis signed a Generation Adidas contract making him available for selection on Friday.

Lewis, to put it bluntly, is a stud. The 19-year-old winger posted 12 assists for the Zips and only got better as the year progressed.

Lewis finished the season with two goals and six assists in his last 9 games, including a goal against Ohio State and an NCAA tournament assist versus Villanova.

There could be a trickle down effect here for attacking players. For example, Lewis could slide ahead of Abu Danladi on a draft board. In the case of our mock today — done solely for fun and frivolity — either Danladi or Lewis would be available for Columbus at 5, which would perhaps leave them looking for a defender at 9. So while we had them going Lalas Abubakar (CB) and Russell Cicerone (FW) on our first mock, it’s changed a bit.

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

On the field, it was impossible not to notice Louisville’s Daniel Johnson. We had him at 15 to Colorado, but any questions about the American attacker would’ve been answered on Sunday. Another star match this week would make it hard for Atlanta United to pass him the home state kid at 8.

The West Ham Academy product played at Maryland before starring with Louisville, where he unleashed this bullet.

The second match was difficult to analyze thanks to some rough play in the midfield. Brandt Bronico raised his stock, and consensus Top Five pick Abu Danladi showed a flash or two. English striker David Goldsmith finished two chances that make teams think deeper.

Notre Dame defender Brandon Aubrey had a tough day in the opener, but it’s hard to believe anyone’s going to eschew years of strong play based on one performance. Still, another game like this could lead teams to wait on selecting him.

  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 — Abu Danladi, FWD (UCLA)
  6. San Jose Earthquakes — Jackson Yueill, FWD (UCLA)
  7. Vancouver Whitecaps — Brian Wright, FWD (Vermont)
  8. Atlanta United — Brandon Aubrey, DEF (Notre Dame)
  9. Columbus Crew — Reagan Dunk, DEF (Denver)
  10. Portland Timbers — Shamit Shome, MID (FC Edmonton)
  11. Chicago Fire — Daniel Johnson, MID (Louisville)
  12. DC United — Chris Odoi-Atsem, DEF (Maryland)
  13. Real Salt Lake — Adonijah Reid, FWD (Canada U-20)
  14. Sporting KC — Napo Matsoso, MID (Kentucky)
  15. Colorado Rapids — Russell Cicerone, FWD (Buffalo)
  16. Seattle Sounders — Francis De Vries, DEF (St. Francis PA)
  17. New York Red Bulls — Eric Klenofsky, GK (Monmouth)
  18. FC Dallas —Jorge Gomez Sanchez, FWD (Temple)
  19. Montreal Impact – Julian Gressel, MID (Providence)
  20. New England Revolution — Jacori Hayes, MID (Wake Forest)
  21. Toronto FC — Liam Callahan, DEF/MID (Syracuse)
  22. Seattle Sounders — Justin Schmidt, DEF (Washington)

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PST’s 2017 Major League Soccer Mock SuperDraft

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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.

[ MORE: USSF rules on USL, NASL status ]

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:

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

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Transfer rumor roundup: Badstuber to Man City, Bojan to Boro

MUNICH, GERMANY - OCTOBER 12: Holger Badstuber (R) of FC Bayern Muenchen and Maximilian Ecker of the Paulaner Soccer Team compete in the Beer Mug Lifting Challenge of the Paulaner Fan Dream - Bavarian Battle Qualifier on October 12, 2016 in Munich, Germany.  (Photo by Lennart Preiss/Getty Images For Paulaner)
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Jose Mourinho says he hasn’t seen “anything close” to an acceptable bid for Morgan Schneiderlin or Memphis Depay.

[ MORE: FA Cup roundup ]

Squawka says Everton is ready to test that theory with a $27 million offerfor Schneiderlin.

Would that work for Mou?

On the other side of Manchester is City, where Pep Guardiola wants a reunion with Bayern Munich back Holger Badstuber. The manager says he loves the player, but has to speak with Bayern before any talks with the player. The Manchester Evening News says it would be a loan deal, and Guardiola says nothing is imminent in terms of improving his defense:

“Now on the table there are no names because we had a lot of games. But now we have 10 days off, 10 days until Everton, so we have time to discuss with Txiki, with the club, what is the best for the rest of the season.”

Newcastle United is trying to firm up its midfield down in the Championship by bringing a Premier League caliber player on loan. United is on pace for promotion to the PL at the first try, and thinks Tom Cleverley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, or Fabian Delph could fit the bill. The Newcastle Chronicle says Everton turned down NUFC interest in James McCarthy and Gerard Deulofeu.

Middlesbrough could see movement in and out of the Riverside Stadium. Sky Sports says big signing Jordan Rhodes is ready to make a move after Boro signed Rudy Gestede from Aston Villa. The Mirror says Boro wants to bring Bojan Krkic over from Stoke City, or pry Deulofeu from Everton.

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