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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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FOLLOW LIVE, Gold Cup: USMNT closes out group v. Panama

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It’s a fully-changed starting XI for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it closes out the group stage against Panama at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Omar Gonzalez and Matt Miazga start together in the backline, Jozy Altidore returns to the starting lineup up top, and Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis feature on the wings alongside Altidore. Ten of the 11 players now ply their trade in MLS, including the Gonzalez, who recently moved to Toronto FC.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT takes on Panama in Kansas City]

Hit the link above to follow along for the next two hours, and check back on PST for a full recap and in-depth analysis after the final whistle.

Must-See Goal: Wayne Rooney v. Orlando City

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I’m going to go out on a limb and say it. Wayne Rooney just scored the most amazing goal in Audi Field’s young history.

In the 10th minute of D.C. United’s match against Orlando City SC on Wednesday evening, Rooney noticed Orlando’s Brian Rowe straying way off his line. And so, with an audacious but accurate attempt, Rooney let fly from 65 yards and SCORED. Just check this goal out below.

[FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT v. Panama]

Rooney took advantage of a crazy bounce and with his literal first touch, unleashed a thunderbolt that Rowe couldn’t catch up to. It automatically becomes one of the top contenders for the MLS Goal of the Year, and should make it on every top ten countdown this evening and tomorrow.

Benfica: Atletico Madrid make $143 million bid for Felix

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The legend of Joao Felix appears to have reached full market value potential.

The 19-year-old Portuguese striker is coming off a breakout year for Benfica, and now the Portuguese giants have received an impressive $143 million offer from Atletico Madrid for Felix. The club confirmed the offer in a statement on its website, stating it was analyzing the deal. Felix has a $136.5 million release clause in his contract, but it appears the additional $7 million is in processing costs.

[READ: Kroos wants to retire at Real Madrid]

Felix was outstanding at Benfica last year, scoring 15 goals with seven assists in 26 league games and three goals and one assist in five Europa League game. Felix has already made his international debut for Portugal.

If confirmed, Felix would become the fifth-most expensive transfer in world history, and the second-most expensive transfer for a teenager behind Kylian Mbappe.

AFCON: Nigeria 1st team through to round of 16 at African Cup, joined by host Egypt

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CAIRO (AP) Former champion Nigeria became the first team to reach the last 16 at the African Cup of Nations after defender Kenneth Omeruo‘s second-half goal delivered a 1-0 win over Guinea on Wednesday.

The Nigerians were unimpressive in the first half in Alexandria but lifted their game in the second. Alex Iwobi‘s rasping shot was pushed away by Guinea goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone and Ahmed Musa almost set up Odion Ighalo on a counterattack.

The former Chelsea defender Omeruo did what the forwards had not been able to do when he beat Kone with a glancing header at the near post off Moses Simon’s corner in the 73rd minute.

Nigeria, which won the title in 2013, has two wins from two games in Group B. It beat Burundi 1-0 in its first match and now needs a draw from its last fixture against Madagascar to finish top and stay in Alexandria for the last 16.

There was more good news for Nigeria when Samuel Kalu came on as a substitute near the end. The midfield player collapsed at a training session the day before the first game, suffering from dehydration, and was hospitalized.

Coach Gernot Rohr rested captain John Obi Mikel against Guinea.

Elsewhere, Egypt also confirmed a place in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ahmad Elmohamady and Mohamed Salah each scored in the first half to lead the Pharoahs to victory, the hosts second-straight win in the competition.

In the other match of the day, Uganda tied Zimbabwe, 1-1.