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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.

[ MORE: Klopp on Mourinho ]

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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USMNT prospect Ledezma earns praise from van Nistelrooy

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Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.

Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.

From Goal.com:

“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”

Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.

“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”

That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.

Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.

Newcastle reportedly in for $28M mercurial Nice attacker

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L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.

The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.

That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.

Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.

Clark County “declines to prosecute” Ronaldo for rape

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Cristiano Ronaldo will not face sexual assault charges for a June 2009 incident in the United States, attorneys say.

An American woman filed a civil lawsuit against the Juventus superstar last year, claiming that Ronaldo forced himself upon her while she was in a prone position in his hotel room.

[ MORE: Bayern keen on Zaha ]

Ronaldo had expressed belief that he would be cleared of the claims, and claimed that graphic documents produced by German publication Der Spiegel were altered and fabricated.

Las Vegas police issued a warrant in a bid to get Ronaldo’s DNA, and the DA’s office says the woman’s refusal to name her attacker stopped them for collecting “vital evidence.” The woman reached a civil settlement with Ronaldo in 2010.

From News3LV.com:

“Based upon a review of the information presented at this time, the allegations of sexual assault against Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” the D.A.’s office said. “Therefore, no charges will be forthcoming.”

Bayern Munich kicking the tires on big Zaha bid

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A sensational report is linking Wilfried Zaha not just with a move away from Crystal Palace, but a move clear of the Premier League altogether.

90min.com says that Bayern Munich has turned to Zaha, having been rebuffed in their pursuit of Manchester City’s Leroy Sane.

Palace wants $100 million for Zaha, but so far has only received a $50 million offer from Arsenal for his services. Reports Monday said Arsenal is upping its bid, and offering a loan of Reiss Nelson as a make-good. Palace has had good Fortune with loans from the big boys of the PL, in particular with Ruben Loftus-Cheek two seasons ago.

A lot of this makes sense for all parties, apart from Sane, and it will be interesting to see if the report brings a bigger bid from the Gunners.

Zaha is a sensational player, and has created chances year-after-year for the Eagles. He wants to taste the Champions League, but Palace is not willing to let him go for (much) less than its asking price given its sale of Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United.

Bayern will spend less on Zaha than it would on Gareth Bale or Sane, and get a determined player who is very much in his prime. Zaha would also get the chance to showcase himself with actual breathing room on the pitch, thanks to Serge Gnabry, Robert Lewandowski, and others.

And Palace, of course, will end up with between $80-100 million and the knowledge that it won’t need to mark Zaha on a Premier League pitch. More importantly, the money raised from Zaha and Wan-Bissaka will allow them to strengthen at nearly every position (above what they have now, not above AWB and Zaha).