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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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Transfer rumor roundup: Everton join Zaha chase; Matuidi to Man Utd?

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A roundup of Saturday’s biggest transfer rumors from around the world, including those involving a few Premier League clubs…

[ MORE: PL refs told to defer to VAR more, go to the monitor “sparingly” ]

Wilfried Zaha is one of the most wanted men in England, with Arsenal reportedly hot on his trail all summer. An deal between the Gunners and Crystal Palace is yet  to transpire, though, which has perhaps left the door open for Everton to sneak through and sign the 26-year-old Ivory Coast international.

Arsenal would obviously pay more in wages, but are yet to meet Palace’s valuation of their talisman. If Everton is the club that calls with the requisite figures on offer, it wouldn’t be the worst landing place for Zaha. With Arsenal yet to make a meaningful signing this summer, and the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny already gone or on their way out, the 2019-20 season could see the Gunners take a step back, opening the door for — you guessed it — Everton to break into the top-five… or -four.


Speaking of Ramsey, his arrival at Juventus has perhaps made Blaise Matuidi surplus to requirements, which means he could be available for cut-rate price.

Manchester United seem to be perennially in need of influential central midfielders, especially this summer after the departure of Ander Herrera and the failure of a signing that was Fred last summer. Man United have reportedly been in contact with Juve about the 32-year-old, as have Paris Saint-Germain and Everton.


Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is another midfielder who’s been linked with United, but he’ll likely just as much as, if not more than, the $59-million fee paid for Fred. Milinkovic-Savic seemed a surefire target for the world’s top clubs after a star’s showing at last summer’s World Cup in Russia, but the 24-year-old remained at Lazio and is still yet to move 12 months later.


Patrick Cutrone was one of Europe’s breakout stars of the 2018-19 season, now the 21-year-old AC Milan forward is reportedly high atop Wolverhampton Wanderers’ shopping list this summer. He won’t come cheap — Milan are expected to demand nearly $30 million — but he could offer some serious insurance in the event of an injury to Raul Jimenez.

PL refs told to defer to VAR more, go to the monitor “sparingly”

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Premier League interim chief executive Richard Masters says that referees have ben instructed “to use the referee review area a bit more sparingly” and rely on the numerous video-assistant referees (VAR) at their disposal to make simple calls upon review when video review is instituted in the PL next month.

[ MORE: Lukaku latest: Man United reject $67-million bid from Inter Milan ]

Following the 2019 Women’s World Cup, where far too many trip to the monitor were made by the center referees, the PL is keen on ensuring that “the Premier League or English football [is not] interrupted, or the pace of the game [is not] changed.” It sounds very much like a “less is more” approach  — quotes from the BBC:

“I think fans want to see those clear and obvious mistakes changed and put right. But they don’t want to see the Premier League or English football interrupted, or the pace of the game changed.

“I think the only difference you might see is the referees using the referee review area a bit more sparingly and relying more on the VAR for the more subjective decisions.

“But we are putting something new into the Premier League and if it needs to be refined or improved or tweaked we will look at it when the moment arises.”

In theory, this should work quite well for the PL. Many of the decisions that referees go to the monitor to review themselves could easily be made by the “fifth official.” If it’s obvious to the VAR and he/she can make the call with 100 percent certainty, the center ref should always take their decision in the name of keeping the game flowing. If the VAR isn’t so sure, or it’s a more subjective call that should be made by the person making 99 percent of the game’s calls, go to the monitor. But do so quickly.

Lukaku latest: Man United reject $67-million bid from Inter Milan

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Given two key factors — the date on the calendar and how far apart the two sides appear to be in their respective valuations — it’s looking increasingly likely that Romelu Lukaku will still be a Manchester United player when the upcoming Premier League season starts, despite numerous bids by Inter Milan this summer.

[ MORE: Borussia Dortmund tops Liverpool 3-2 at Notre Dame ]

According to reports out of the UK, Man United have rejected Inter’s latest bid, said to be for $67.5 million. The Red Devils paid $96 million for the big Belgian forward just two summers ago and appear hellbent on recouping most, if not all, of their investment.

Antonio Conte called Lukaku “an important player for us” this week in an attempt to further unsettle the 26-year-old, but that doesn’t appear to have shaken United’s resolve in holding out for the fee they desire.

[ MORE: Wolves top Man City on penalties in PL Asia Trophy final ]

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is growing tired of answering questions about the saga, especially since there has been little to no progress made in recent days and weeks. When pressed on the topic again this week, he said he had “no more updates.”

Wolves top Man City on penalties in PL Asia Trophy final

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The 2019 Premier League Asia Trophy wrapped up on Saturday, as four PL sides took the field in Shanghai, China…

[ MORE: Borussia Dortmund tops Liverpool 3-2 at Notre Dame ]

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-0 (3-2 PKs) Man City

Wolves turned in a fantastic defensive display against the two-time reigning PL champions, indicating that Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side is very much ready for the start of the season. Man City had plenty of the ball in dangerous areas, but Wolves were quick to close off the passages when City typically dominate.

Wolves captain Conor Coady was part of the stellar defensive performance and he lauded some of the young players who entered the game as second-half substitutes and saw the game out to 0-0.

“To beat City at any point is a great accomplishment for us,” he said after the game. “We rode our luck at times but I thought the young boys were outstanding”

David Silva had perhaps the game’s best scoring chance in the 78th minute, but Rui Patricio made a top-drawer save to deny the Spaniard’s curling effort at the last possible moment.

Silva and Ilkay Gundogan began the penalty shootout with back-to-back efforts saved by Patricio. 20-year-old forward Lukas Nmecha was also denied on City’s fifth and final attempt.

Newcastle United 1-0 West Ham United

Newly appointed head coach Steve Bruce watched as an observer, due to “the terms of his visa,” as his Newcastle side beat Manuel Pellegrini‘s West Ham 1-0 in the third-place playoff.

Yoshinori Muto bagged the game’s only goal in the 34th minute. Jamie Sterry whipped in a cross from the right wing that curled around a pair of defenders at the near post and presented itself to Muto, still with plenty of work to do, for a first-time finish.