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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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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MLS: Fire, Earthquakes add depth ahead of 2017 season

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A pair of MLS sides made moves over the weekend to help bolster their squads ahead of the 2017 season.

[ MORE: PST’s 2017 MLS Mock SuperDraft ]

The San Jose Earthquakes have added to a strong option into the team’s defensive mix with the addition of Panamanian Harold Cummings.

[ MORE: USSF grants D-II status to both USL and NASL ]

The 24-year-old was a former player with Alajuelense of Costa Rica’s top flight before joining the Western Conference side. Additionally, Cummings has made 46 appearances for the Panama national team.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Fire have signed Uruguayan goalkeeper Jorge Rodrigo Bava as a potential replacement for the departed Sean Johnson.

Bava, 35, is expected to compete with Matt Lampson for the Fire’s no. 1 keeper position in 2017 after Johnson moved on to New York City FC this offseason.

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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FA Cup wrap: Three Premier League sides upset

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There are plenty of replays on tap after deadlocks dotted the landscape of the FA Cup’s third round.

Six Premier League sides are out, with four more headed for replays. Advancing to the next round are Manchester United, Leicester City, Watford, and Hull City.

West Ham fell to Man City 5-0 on Friday, a result which gives the PL five sides in the next round.

[ MORE: Rating the USMNT roster ]

Darren Bent and Tom Ince found the back of the net for Derby County when the Rams upended West Brom at the Hawthorns. Matty Phillips scored for the hosts.

— Bournemouth went out, too, at the hands of Shaun Cummings, Steve Morison, Shane Ferguson, and Millwall. USMNT mid Emerson Hyndman got a rare start for the Cherries in the loss.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: Morgan Gibbs-White of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Charlie Adam of Stoke City compete for the ball during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Stoke City and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Bet365 Stadium on January 7, 2017 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Wolves beat Stoke (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

— Stoke City was bounced at home by Wolverhampton, as Helder Costa and Matt Doherty scored for Wolves.

[ MORE: MLS Mock Draft 2017 ]

Wayne Rooney tied Bobby Charlton’s record for most goals as a Manchester United player in a 4-0 beatdown of Reading.

Ahmed Musa is having a day, scoring twice in five minutes when Leicester City erased a 1-0 deficit at the hands of Everton.

— Hull City topped fellow relegation strugglers Swansea City 2-0. Watford handled Burton Albion by the same score.

— Lincoln City also got a brace, this one from Theo Robinson, as the National League side built a lead at Ipswich Town. Ex-Man Utd man Tom Lawrence twice scored equalizers.

— Burnley and Sunderland finished 0-0, giving the clubs a replay they likely prefer a bit less than a loss. Crystal Palace and Southampton also needs replays after drawing second tier sides.

— Arsenal advanced with a win in the late game behind more Olivier Giroud heroics, and three more sides play Sunday: Liverpool, Chelsea, and Spurs.

FA Cup third round results
West Ham United 0-5 Man CityRECAP
Manchester United
 4-0 Reading
Everton 1-2 Leicester City
Ipswich Town 2-2 Lincoln City
Sunderland 0-0 Burnley
Bolton 0-0 Crystal Palace
Norwich City 2-2 Southampton
Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Blackburn
Watford 2-0 Burton Albion
West Brom 1-2 Derby County
Millwall 3-0 Bournemouth
Birmingham City 1-1 Newcastle United
Wigan Athletic 2-0 Nottingham Forest
Bristol City 0-0 Fleetwood Town
Hull City 2-0 Swansea City
Blackpool 0-0 Barnsley
Stoke City 0-2 Wolves
Huddersfield Town 4-0 Port Vale
Brighton 2-0 MK Dons.
Brentford 5-1 Eastleigh
Accrington Stanley 2-1 Luton Town
Wycombe 2-1 Stourbridge
Rotherham 2-3 Oxford United
Barrow 0-2 Rochdale
Sutton United 0-0 AFC Wimbledon
Preston North End 1-2 Arsenal

Sunday fixtures
Cardiff City vs. Fulham — 6:30 a.m. EDT
Liverpool vs. Plymouth Argyle — 8:30 a.m. EDT
Chelsea vs. Peterborough United — 10 a.m. EDT
Middlesbrough vs. Sheffield Weds. — 10 a.m. EDT
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa — 11 a.m. EDT

Monday
Cambridge United vs. Leeds United — 2:45 p.m. EDT

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