11 January 2012

Scouting the SuperDraft

OK, I watched two of the three days of the combine, follow college soccer somewhat but not super closely, and have been pretty involved with the last four drafts. So here are my MLS SuperDraft player rankings, broken down by position. Please don't hold them against me (too much) on Friday:

GOALKEEPERS
None of them will be taken on Thursday, so don’t worry about it. Ryan Meara, Chris Blais, and Brian Rowe all could go in the supplemental draft on Tuesday, but to be honest, they might rather go to an NASL or USL team where they have a better chance at regular playing time. Being a third-string MLS goalie can be a thankless job.

CENTER BACKS
1. Andrew Wenger, Duke (Generation adidas) – Seems like a lock to go to Vancouver at No. 2. Although with DeMerit, Rochat, Lee, and Bonjour, they’ve actually got the makings of a good defense. If Wenger is selected, Jordan Harvey could be traded again. Just speculating.
2. Andrew Jean-Baptiste, UConn (Generation adidas) – He turns 20 in June, so there’s plenty of time for him to develop. Could slip a little in the draft if Toronto is looking for instant impact, but I doubt it.
3. Matt Hedges, North Carolina – Didn’t have a great combine but his resume and his height (6-4) make him a great pick for Toronto, Chivas USA, Portland, or any other team that needs someone capable of playing this year.
4. Austin Berry, Louisville – Quietly impressive at the combine. Will likely be looked at by same pool of teams that are after Hedges.
5. Andrew Duran, Creighton – I moved him up after the combine, where he showed good technical skill in different positions, an underrated trait for an MLS defender. Could see him in Dallas or Philadelphia, among other clubs picking in the 10-15 range.
6. Aaron Maund, Notre Dame – Still a little young for a senior (he doesn’t turn 22 until September), I really liked him at the combine and think he will be a steal for somebody in the bottom half of the first round.
Best of the Rest – Charles Rodriguez, Justin Chavez, Patrick Sigler, Chris Estridge

OUTSIDE BACKS
1. Hunter Jumper, Virginia – I didn’t know much about Jumper before the combine, but I moved him up to No. 1 based on what I saw. He’s about to turn 23, so he could be taken after:
2. Tyler Polak, Creighton (Generation adidas) – Much-discussed entering the combine, Polak, who turns 20 in May, seemed pretty average from what I saw, but he’s GA for a reason, so he’ll probably be taken somewhere between 6-15.
3. Warren Creavalle (Central Florida) – It’s a bad year for outside backs when a defensive mid is one of the top prospects, but I really liked the way Creavalle filled in at right back during the combine, and I think he definitely moved up into contention to be taken in the first half of the second round.
4. R.J. Allen (Monmouth) – I didn’t notice much from the combine, although he had a good entry pass to set up a goal on the first day, but he’s been steady in college and could go in the second round.
Best of the Rest – Diogo de Almeida (Brazil), Gienir Garcia (Mexico), Aubrey Perry

CENTER MIDFIELDERS
1. Kelyn Rowe, UCLA (Generation adidas) – For my money, he has the most upside of anybody in the draft. A young 20-year-old (December 91), he has shown a good work rate and the ability to cross comfortably with either foot when I’ve seen him, plus his goal in the College Cup was a special play. If I were running Chivas, I’d take him at No. 5, but he may not be an instant starter and could slip.
2. Enzo Martinez, North Carolina (Generation adidas) – He’s small but extremely technical and capable of picking the right pass. The main questions are his defense and his international status, but I don’t see him slipping out of the top 10.
3. Luis Silva, UCSB – He didn’t wow me right away at the combine, but he grew on me as the games went on and really showed some good combination play. Already 23, he’s on the older side, but he could go anywhere from No. 5-16.
4. Calum Mallace, Marquette – His stock went up at the combine, where he seemed very adept at seeing the game and playing simple. I still think he’s a late first-round selection.
5. Kirk Urso, North Carolina – Experienced, composed, and smart, Urso feels like a depth selection because he's consistent but may not have the upside of some others.
6. Greg Jordan, Creighton – Very active as a holding midfielder, he’s clearly adept at keeping things simple, but I don’t know if his passing marks him as a starter.
Best of the Rest – Kenney Walker, Lance Rozeboom, Andy Rose, Kevan George

OUTSIDE MIDFIELDERS
1. Sam Garza, UCSB (Generation adidas) – Some rank Garza as a forward, but I feel like he’s best for a wide role, whether in a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2. Seems tailor-made for Columbus at No. 10 as a Robbie Rogers replacement, but will he get that far?
2. Evan James, Charlotte – I’ve never been overly impressed with James, but he is technical and can make some plays on the wing. I think the highest he goes is No. 12, and that’s mostly because it’s Toronto.
3. Tony Cascio, UConn – He seems to have good size and touch. Real Salt Lake tried to claim him as home-grown, so I wonder if they would take him at No. 17.
4. Nick DeLeon, Louisville – He had a very good college career and was respected enough to sign a contract before the combine, which says a lot.
5. Brendan King, Notre Dame – A former U.S. U-17 international, I like his attacking attitude and size on the wing. Might be a steal for somebody early in the second round.
Best of the Rest – Kohei Yamada (Japan), Aldo Paniagua (Paraguay), Jason Banton (England), Eder Arreola, Arthur Ivo (Brazil)

FORWARDS
1. Darren Mattocks, Akron (Generation adidas) – International status won’t hurt the consensus No. 1 pick, who had 39 goals in two years of college soccer.
2. Chandler Hoffman, UCLA (Generation adidas) – Outstanding combine really moved him to the top of the list for me, and I’d be surprised if New England doesn’t take him at No. 3. I can’t imagine him going lower than No. 7.
3. Casey Townsend, Maryland – Signed before the combine, he paired well with Hoffman and should go in the top 10, possibly to D.C. or Chicago.
4. Dom Dwyer, South Florida (Generation adidas) – A little underwhelming at the combine, but he’s a forward with speed. This is tough to predict – he could fall near No. 15.
5. Ethan Finlay, Creighton – Earned notice and a contract with a combine hat trick fresh off the plane, showing why he was a Hermann Trophy finalist. I can’t see him slipping past No. 15 either.
6. Colin Rolfe, Louisville – He had an indifferent combine in my eyes but should definitely go in the second round.
Best of the Rest – Luckymore Mkosana (Zimbabwe), Babayele Sodade, Evans Frimpong (Ghana)

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