Welcome to the second installment of the mock draft for the Major League Soccer 2010 SuperDraft. In this part, we are going to only run through the first two rounds of the draft. The main alterations among the first round is the flux of Generation adidas players. The list of players is close to being set in stone and, let me tell you, this is a very impressive class. I would go as far as to say that, if you made this whole draft class into a team, you would not finish with the worst record in the league. You could even let Tom Soehn or Dennis Hamlett coach if you wanted to make it fair.
Currently, the Generation adidas class is twelve players deep, which is tied for most all-time with the introductory GenAd class of 2005. MLS is still chasing Luis Gil, and the final word on Cameron Brown is up in the air, so there are two more names that could be added. For the time being, both names have been excluded from this draft.
|1||Philadelphia Union||Danny Mwanga*||F-1||young, deadly, strong|
|2||Red Bull New York||Ike Opara*||D-1||leader, winner, athletic|
|3||San Jose Earthquakes||Teal Bunbury*||F-2||tall, quick, potential|
|4||Kansas City Wizards||Tony Tchani*||M-1||strong, maestro,smooth|
|5||FC Dallas (via TFC)||Corben Bone*||M-2||clever, savvy, controller|
|6||FC Dallas||Andre Akpan||F-4||forceful, experienced, dangerous|
|7||D.C. United||Zach Loyd||D-2||versatile, determined, enduring|
|8||Columbus Crew (via COL)||Andrew Wiedeman*||F-3||finisher, bashful, astute|
|9||New England Revolution||Toni Stahl||M-4||adept, defensive-minded|
|10||Chivas USA||Amobi Okugo*||M-3||underrated, dominant, possessive|
|11||Seattle Sounders||Jack McInerney*||F-5||youthful, polished, future|
|12||Columbus Crew||Dilly Duka*||M-6||small, gifted, winger|
|13||Chicago Fire||Blair Gavin*||M-5||facilitator, game-manager|
|14||RBNY (via HOU)||Zach Schilawski||F-5||sharp, hasty, lanky|
|15||Los Angeles Galaxy||Austin da Luz||M-7||crafty, slick, lefty|
|16||Real Salt Lake||Kwame Watson-Siriboe||D-3||giant, stalwart, tough|
Where exactly is the ceiling for Mwanga? He is a taller version of Real Salt Lake stud forward Robbie Findley. Compare the two college careers: Findley had six goals and five assists in his final season wearing orange. Mwanga had fourteen goals and two assists. Mwanga is also the first Oregon State player to be named Player of the Year in the PAC-10. He is a step or two faster than Bunbury and stronger on the ball. There are still going to be questions about his ability against top level defenders (he only had two goals in the six games this season the Beavers played against ranked teams). That said, he has the highest ceiling in the class and will be a starter from day one in Philly.
New York's position in the draft will be debated ceaselessly and everyone has a different angle to the issue. For those unfamiliar, Dilly Duka was a RBNY academy player. He was the first to sign a Generation adidas deal this season, and everyone believed that New York would take him with the second pick because they wanted him in the off-season (actually they wanted him this summer, but NY's season was over in April). MLS blocked the move, citing that Duka already played in college before he enrolled in their academy. Now that we know the Generation adidas class, selecting Duka with the second pick would not be in NY's best interest. Yet, this is a club without a coach or any sort of direction. Jeff Agoos is currently in charge of making personnel decisions in New York. So does RBNY go with the local boy who is familiar to the club but a reach? Or do they take the best talent on the board? I am in the camp that they take the top talent here and try to move up with their second selection.
It is a really bad sign when your club announces their intentions for the draft and they state: "This year we actually watched a lot of college games." What were you doing every other year, San Jose? Just relying on other teams to give you hints on who to take after you traded away your first round pick? There is no wonder this team doesn't make the playoffs or improve. They don't bother to look for new talent. I can't decide what I am shocked about with this statement, the fact no one else seems to think this is a big deal or the fact San Jose felt the need to justify their stance in this year's draft. There are some parts of MLS that will be laughable in the future when we look back on it. San Jose failing to use the draft is in the top five along with D.C. United forgetting to update Luciano Emilio's weight-watcher membership, Chivas USA's attempt at a first win when they began to kill the clock around the sixtieth minute (actual commentary from that game "and Martins is sitting on the ball in the corner." "Does Rongen know this game goes ninety minutes?"), any Los Angeles Galaxy trade between 2004-2008, and Andrew Boyens.
As for San Jose’s actual selection, Alex Bunbury and Frank Yallop were teammates and friends. Alex's son, Teal, is a tremendous talent, but doesn't necessary address San Jose's most pressing need. I would go as far to say Tchani is a better value pick here, but there is a potential to select a future star and Yallop's familiarity will force his hand. That said, would the better story be Bunbury ending up with Kansas City with the fourth pick? His farther played and retired with the Wizards in 2000. A decade later and his son suits up for KC; that is a feel-good story.
Speaking of those magical creatures in blue, Kansas City doesn't rock the cradle and takes the best available talent (Tchani) with their pick at number four. After that we are left with the brain-trust of Schellas Hyndman and Co. with two selections. Anything is possible with Dallas; I don't think anyone would be shocked if they took both the U-17 players with these picks. They are going to have a really good U-20 team. Kidding aside, Hyndman has only been in charge for one draft and he didn't reach for any youngsters. This is a new era for Dallas and a chance to make the most of two excellent picks. Corben Bone is a special talent and a great value with this selection. As for the other pick, it is between Wiedeman and Akpan. Wiedeman is best friends (or BFFs) with FC Dallas' young defender Kyle Davies so there is a camp inside the walls lobbying for the Berkeley man. Akpan is from Texas and is pro ready. A Cunningham-Akpan partnership makes sense and could be a formidable force against MLS defenses.
Fact about D.C. United's new coach Curt Onalfo's draft history: in his three years in charge of Kansas City, he had fourteen picks (including a #1 overall pick), only two of those fourteen turned into regular starters. That was a team that started Lance Watson frequently. MLS - "Where improving your team in the off-season is optional." This team definitely needs some help at defense, but there are no players on the board worth a pick this early in the draft. That said, Onalfo chased a fullback last year and the year before that, he is going to do it again. There is always a bad decision in the top half of the draft and this is it. To Loyd's credit, he is going to be a very useful professional especially in a league where utility is a huge benefit with small roster sizes.
A handful of teams in MLS want Okugo; I have him ranked as the third best midfielder in this class. He plays defensive mid and was the most professional-ready player at the U-20 camp. He is strong on the ball, reads passing lanes well and is an excellent vocal leader. Whether Chivas USA like him enough to hold onto him or if they are willing to deal is another question. They have put in the man hours at UCLA games this season so they do know the gem that they are getting. However, cross-town rival LA Galaxy have an inside source at UCLA (assistant coach Kenny Arena) and like what they see in Okugo. They liked it enough to send Bruce down to Chula Vista last week to get a closer peek. Look for LA and another MLS team to try to trade up to grab him. By the way, how is it fair that LA has that kind inside source? And Chivas USA still employs U-20 coach Thomas Rongen as technical director? This reeks of a conflict of interest.
I was not impressed with McInerney at the U-17 World Cup. I thought his play was lackluster at best, but recently I saw him play at the U-20 Camp in Chula Vista. He must have had some bad days over in Nigeria because this kid is going to be a star. He is a very polished forward for only being seventeen. He has a great nose for the goal and an outstanding understanding of the game. I don't think he is a starter from day one, but he is closer to MLS ready than any other U-17 squad. Seattle needs another forward on the roster and one that can come off the bench to add something to the game. If Seattle holds onto Fredy Montero this offseason, then the pressure is off McInerney and he can develop in time in a great environment.
The rest of the first round is fairly rudimentary so lets engage in a drafting need vs best available discussion. I fall in the best available category for a few reasons: a) You want the most talented players on your team; thinking otherwise is asinine. b) The need of a team is a temporary basis. If you draft based on the near-future, your team is never going to be able to compete in the long run. c) A player's position can and does change with the years. Lets just go with one example here: last year Chivas USA's biggest need was goalkeeper but they took midfielder Michael Lahoud with their first pick. Zach Thornton turned in one of the best comeback seasons we have ever seen. Then they picked up Jon Conway and now they are set at 'keeper. Lahoud didn't have the best rookie season, but he was solid and performed well in the playoffs.
|17||Philadelphia Union||Ofori Sarkodie||D-5|
|18||Red Bull New York||Michael Stephens||M-9|
|19||San Jose Earthquakes||Kyle Nakazawa||M-10|
|20||Kansas City Wizards||Brian Perk||G-1|
|21||FC Dallas (via TFC)||Paulo da Silva||M-16|
|22||Colorado Rapids (via FCD)||Zachary Herold*||D-8|
|23||Colorado Rapids (via DC)||Nelson Becerra||M-12|
|24||Toronto FC (via COL)||Chris Schuler||D-4|
|25||New England Revolution||David Walker||F-6|
|26||Chivas USA||Nick Cardenas||D-6|
|27||Seattle Sounders||Irving Garcia||M-11|
|28||San Jose Earthquakes (via DAL, RSL)||Ryan Peterman||D-7|
|29||Chicago Fire||Jovan Bubonja||G-2|
|30||San Jose Earthquakes (via HOU)||Sean Johnson*||G-3|
|31||Red Bull New York (via LA)||Ronnie Bouemboue||F-7|
|32||Real Salt Lake||Conor O’Brien||M-13|
Michael Stephens jumped above college teammate Kyle Nakazawa in this version because I am projecting Stephens to have the better combine. I would say if the draft were tomorrow, Nakazawa goes first no question. But there are limitations to his game and Stephens has the versatility that MLS teams covet so dearly. Stephens will probably be asked to play a few positions at the combine and MLS scouts will get a good idea of what kind of player he could be in the right situation. He is a borderline starter from day one for some clubs, New York definitely among them.
I have seen Herold play a handful of times now. There is one indisputable fact about his game: he is a center back. He doesn't look comfortable playing outside back and there is no way he is going to transition to MLS caliber at fullback. He does look fairly useful at center back but he is young and it is difficult to say how long it will take before a team is comfortable with him in such an important position. Herold could slip further down the draft board, but he has shown some upside, so I feel content with him as a mid to late second round pick pre-combine.
Perk is the top rated 'keeper for various reasons, but mainly that his performances with the U-20 teams have given him plenty of experience in high pressure situations. The four years at UCLA have been good for his development. Bubonja has been solid for UIC for a couple years now. He was a highly coveted player at the beginning of the year, but his value took a dip with the average season UIC had. As for Johnson, there are so many holes on San Jose's team that I felt guilty giving them a 'keeper, but they could use another GenAd on the roster and Johnson could develop nicely under the right tutelage.
Revolution need some help up top, and Walker could be the solution to their lack of depth. In the second round, he is a steal for what he can provide this team. He is more of a traditional striker than any other forward left in this draft. He is a bit on the small size for professional level, but he is athletic enough for it not to be an issue. Revolution have had bad luck with UCSB players so they could shy away from this pick.
Next mock draft will be after the combine.
J.R. Eskilson covers youth and college soccer for Goal.com. You can follow him at twitter.com/NCAAsoccer
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