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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.


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)

MLS Combine, SuperDraft status report: Day 1


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)

Follow @NicholasMendola

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.

Follow @NicholasMendola

League Cup roundup: Man City roars, Swans out

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Manchester City is among the Premier League teams to make it through to the quarterfinals of this year’s League Cup after running past Sunderland 4-1 on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Costa earns three-game ban ]

Who else won? Dig in:

Aston Villa 1-0 Birmingham City

The Derby belongs to Tim Sherwood’s side, albeit barely. Rudy Gestede scored the only goal as Villa moves on.

Sunderland 1-4 Manchester City

It was 4-0 by the time the match was 36 minutes old, with Sergio Aguero headlining the scoring with a 9th minute penalty before Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling netted. A Vito Mannone own goal was the fourth tally, with Ola Toivonen scoring a late concession goal for the struggling Black Cats.

Fulham 0-1 Stoke City

Peter Crouch‘s 33rd minute goal stood the test of time at Craven Cottage as the Potters move on. Fulham outshot the visitors 12-5.

Hull City 1-0 Swansea City

Swans may’ve carried an 18-6 edge in shots, but David Meyler was the only player to score a goal as the Tigers advance in the competition.

Leicester City 2-1 West Ham United

The first Foxes goal for 20-year-old Joe Dodoo was canceled out by Mauro Zarate, and the match didn’t find its winner until Andy King scored in the 116th minute to push the Tinkerman’s team onward.

Middlesbrough 3-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Albert Adomah recorded a brace and ensured at least one Northeast side will be present in the quarters.

Preston North End 2-2 Bournemouth (Cherries win in PKs)

A thriller here, eventually. The Premier League’s Cherries scored in the 23rd minute and looked ready to advance when Preston equalized in the 84th minute. Both sides scored in extra time, with Preston’s Daniel Johnson converted a PK in the 116th minute. But Bournemouth won in PKs.

Reading 1-2 Everton

Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu help the Toffees erase a 1-0 halftime deficit.

College soccer update: Sept. 15

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Last year at this time New Hampshire had played six games, and boasted as many wins as goals: two.

This year they haven’t lost, and have scored at least two in each of their five games in a 4-0-1 start under new coach and Durham native son Marc Hubbard, who moved from nearby Southern New Hampshire University in the offseason.

And the team is not getting ahead of itself.

“The biggest message is that we’re taking small strides and we’re not reading into this too much,” Hubbard said. “We’re trying to put ourselves in a position to be as healthy as possible during conference time. We haven’t accomplished anything yet.”

This despite a late hire which limited recruiting, so the Wildcats are hot out the gates with mostly the same crew that finish under .500 last year.

[ MORE: College soccer newsSportsWorld on Clark ]

Hubbard lauds his upperclassmen for their role in the early success. A lot of teams see their leadership group struggle under a new coach, who embraces his recruits while planning for the future.

Instead, Hubbard’s getting yeoman’s work from senior Lukas Goerigk, redshirt senior Jimmy Petrucelli and junior midfielder Chris Wingate, the latter a slick and technical midfielder who brings plenty to the engine room. And 6-foot-2 senior Ben Ramin has three goals on the season, including a brace while tripling his production from three previous years spent between Syracuse and New Hampshire.

“We’re happy with the start obviously, but we have a long way to go not only within the season but within this program and where we want to be in a few years,” Hubbard said. “These guys are certainly laying good framework and foundation but we have a long way to go,”

We’ve noticed. And we wouldn’t rule out a run in America East play come October.

Three stars

  1. We told you to keep an eye for Georgia native Daniel Johnson‘s goal for Louisville against Kentucky last week. The junior transfer from Maryland played his youth ball at West Ham, and he took a gift off a Kentucky giveaway, belting a bending shot home. Check it above, about a half-minute into the video.
  2. New Mexico (3-1-1) — Jeremy Fishbein’s team has one blemish on its record, a loss to then-No. 1 UCLA, and Chris Wehan has goals in four-straight. The superstar midfielder belies his 5-foot-9 on the pitch, and has twice registered 7 shots in a game this year.
  3. Bradley Farias, Campbell — After scoring nine goals as a freshman on a 5-13 team last season, the Florida native helped the Camels to a pair of wins this weekend with a combined three goals and two assists. He has five on the year, and also netted against NC State in exhibition season.

Other notes

  • No.2 ranked Notre Dame looked good in shutting out No. 9 Clemson to kick off ACC play this weekend. The Irish puts its season-long shutout streak on the line against Xavier tonight.
  • No. 1 Creighton proved there isn’t a hex on the No.1  ranking by heading to East Lansing and knocking off Michigan State 1-0.
  • We have new national leaders in goals and assists, as Bowling Green’s Pat Flynn is proving last year wasn’t a fluke by netting eight goals already this season, while American University’s Liam Robley paces all playmakers with eight assists.
  • Shout out to Elon University, which is up to No. 20 in the national rankings.
  • Your No. 1 ranked teams in the NSCAA poll? On the men’s side, along with Creighton are reigning champs in D-2 Lynn, D-3 Tufts. For the ladies, it’s Virginia, Barry and Lynchburg.