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College Player Profile - Casey Osborne - by Ben Roth

The recent 2015 MLS Superdraft provided the opportunity for some of the top talent in the nation to have the opportunity to succeed in the MLS. For many this opportunity is a dream come true.  With that said every year some very talented players slip through the cracks perhaps exposing the lack of scouting of some MLS clubs. However, regardless of the amount of research conducted prior to the draft, history has established that in all sports some very capable players are often overlooked. There are plenty of examples of talented college soccer players such as Jonathan Bornstein and Omar Cummings that were not selected in the first two rounds of the MLS draft yet still had successful professional careers.

The next hopeful on that list of players could be Casey Osborne, a center back from St. John’s University and our latest College Soccer News Player Profile. For many student-athletes the most bittersweet moment as a college player is their team’s senior night, the final amateur sporting event of their career.  The game is supposed to be a celebration of sorts, honoring each team’s graduating seniors, but for some it’s the last competitive game they’ll ever play. For St. John’s University center back Casey Osborne like some other college seniors, that game likely signified among other things the opportuity to transition to bigger things. 

While in the locker room as St. John's prepared for its final Big East game of the 2014 season which was against Seton Hall, there was a feeling of anxiety among the squad, especially the seniors. Scanning the locker room prior to the game, everyone was doing their own pregame ritual, with one consistent theme; senior Casey Osborne was smiling, and getting the whole team ready for their last test of the year. A natural leader, Osborne, is a vocal player on and off the pitch.

When asked to describe himself in one word as a person off the field, the first thing to come to mind for the NSCAA 2012 Junior College National Player of the Year, was, “goofy”.  Osborne, while a character off the pitch is anything but that once he steps on the field. “Nobody outworks him” was a frequent response from his fellow St. John’s teammates regarding Osborne’s on field work ethic.  The hard work paid off as Osborne formed arguably one of the best defensive duos in college soccer alongside roommate and recent MLS draftee Tim Parker. That partnership has been the keystone to the St. John’s team over the past two seasons.

Like every success story, there were set backs along the way.  For Osborne this moment came his junior year at St. John’s in a game against Villanova.  The aggressive defender tore his ACL, a setback that would have caused many to sit back and sulk.  But that was not the case with the optimistic Osborne took the injury as an opportunity to learn from the game and come back even stronger.  Osborne stated, “It’s painful to relive the injury, but it helped me mature as a player.” Without a doubt, the injury had an affect on the team, but they rallied behind their leader, competing how they knew Osborne would.

The rest of his junior year, Osborne was the team’s biggest cheerleader, urging the team onto their third consecutive NCAA tournament bid. While sidelined, “Big Cat” as his teammates call him, took advantage of the opportunity to expand his knowledge of the game.  The best way to do that is as Osborne reiterated, “learning from the best… I took every moment I could analyzing the game and listening to Coach Masur.”

The 2012 Junior College First Team All-American at Tyler Junior College applied the knowledge he gained to the field for his senior year at St. John's and it showed. Osborne returned healthy playing the second most minutes out of all the field players on the team, while enjoying his game.  He was adamant claiming, “I’ve always said the day I stop loving the game, is the day I stop playing.”  This joy along with his competitive drive led to Osborne playing his best ball as the season progressed. 

One of the team’s biggest tests of the year came playing against perennial powerhouse, UCONN Huskies.  St. John's entered that contest without First Team All Big East selection, Tim Parker, and Osborne knew he had to step up.  What made this task even more daunting was the fact that UCONN had arguably the best forward in the country in Cyle Larin, the number one pick in this year’s MLS Superdraft. Knowing Larin would be difficult to contain, Osborne took it upon himself to do just that. The game showcased Osborne’s best skills as he shut down the Canadian national teamer, not allowing him one good chance at goal.  The most impressive part was that at times Larin couldn’t even get a touch on the ball. Osborne was reading the game; intercepting clear-cut chances and winning nearly every header, one of his best attributes.  St. John’s went on to win the game, led by Osborne’s defensive performance.  Results like that indicate that Osborne has what it takes to play at the next level.  

Sitting down with “Big Cat” is a surreal experience since you expect a player with all emotion and energy that he displays on the field to be a loud fiery guy figure, but he’s anything but that.  ‘Humble’ is the only word to describe the small town kid from Georgia. Osborne is the type of player who appreciates the opportuities he has had to play the game and gives credit where credit is due to those who have helped him along the way. He stated, “Starting off playing at Tyler Junior College instilled a great work ethic in myself. Every practice, every game was a chance to beat someone out. I looked forward to it”  This is part of the reason whyTyler JC won a national championship with Osborne, before the center back made the move to St. John’s University. 

Watching St. John’s warm up prior to their senior night game doing a crossing and finishing drill, there was one odd occurrence, Osborne scored the most goals for the team.  When asked how he got this knack for scoring goals, he smiled and said, “I used to play forward a bit at Tyler. It helped a lot with my footwork and understanding how to get away from defenders.  Now on the other side playing defense, I can read the forwards and their movements better”.  

Despite playing defense during the rest of his career Osborne scored a couple important goals for the Johnnies in the past two seasons and credits his short stint at forward as the reason why. With the 2014 college season now over and the MLS season coming quickly, Osborne is looking to make a team’s roster and prove his worth.  “I feel like I deserve it; I have the hunger, I belong on your team.”  

For a league that puts much of their focus on athleticism and work rate, a team could do much worse than taking a risk on Osborne.  He’s a strong, athletic center back who’s absolutely dominant in the air, a trait many coaches look for. After talking to Osborne about his future, he said, “hopefully in 5 years I’m still playing, it would be a dream; I love the game and wouldn’t want to do anything else.”  

With the 2015 MLS Supplementary draft just around the corner its likely that Osborne will still be provided the opportunity for his dream to come true. 


Ben Roth is a contributing writer for College Soccer News.  He can be reached at ben.roth@ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

College Soccer News 2015 MLS SuperDraft Analysis - by Ben Roth

The 2015 MLS SuperDraft is now history and as is almost always the case some of the selections went as expected and there were a few surprises. Ben Roth was on hand in Philadelphia representing College Soccer News and provides his analysis of what took place.  

 

Team

Player

College

Position

Analysis

1

Orlando City SC

Cyle Larin**

UCONN

Forward

To the surprise of nobody, Orlando City picks Canadian national team forward, Cyle Larin.  The Generation Adidas striker has the size, speed, and raw skill to make it in MLS, but needs to develop and Orlando is the perfect place to do so. The strong number of Orlando faithful at the Superdraft were delighted with the pick as they should be.  A future star in the making

2

New York City FC

Khiry Shelton

Oregon St

Forward

With the expansion’s side first ever pick, they grab Khiry Shelton, an explosive forward from Oregon St.  Although a bit of a surprise at #2, scouts have said that when healthy Shelton is a top 2 talent in this draft.  The former U.S. youth international joins an already talented NYCFC front line with David Villa and Patrick Mullins to form a scary attacking lineup.  If he can stay healthy, I take Shelton as the frontrunner to win the MLS Rookie of the Year Award.

3

Montreal Impact

Romario Williams**

UCF

Forward

The Impact go with the best forward available, Williams, a powerful and athletic forward out of UCF.  Williams may need to improve his tactical awareness and finishing a bit, but he’s a good fit for a struggling Montreal side.  If given opportunities to play, the Generation Adidas pick could be an impact player in year one.

4

San Jose Earthquakes

Fatai Alashe

Michigan St.

Midfielder

San Jose grabs one of the most MLS ready prospects in the draft pool, Fatai Alashe.  The hard working and tough defensive midfielder should earn minutes in a solid Quakes’ midfield.  Alashe might not have as high of a ceiling as some other guys, but he’s arguably one of the most polished players.

5

Portland Timbers

Nick Besler

Notre Dame

Midfielder

As College Soccer News predicted, the Timbers pick Besler, another defensive midfielder with a high work rate.  Besler is a true #6 who doesn’t get involved in the attack too much and likes to sit in front of the back 4.  Besler appears to be a perfect fit for Caleb Porter’s system.

6

Toronto FC

Alex Bono**

Syracuse

Goalkeeper

Toronto go with the top goalkeeper in the draft, Alex Bono, a recent U.S. national team call-up.  Bono will likely sit on the bench and/or play in USL Pro during his rookie campaign, but still has unbelievable potential.  Some see the 6’3” netminder as an even better prospect than last year’s number one pick, Andre Blake.  A very good pick from a team that is strong in most areas of the field, coming into 2015.

7

Chicago Fire

Matt Polster

SIUE

Midfielder

The first major surprise of the draft goes with pick #7, a versatile midfielder who has also played in the back-line.  Polster from SIUE, a mid-major school, endured an impressive combine but this pick seems very early for him.  With that said, the Fire have gaps nearly everywhere on their team, so they go with a player who can fill multiple needs.

8

Houston Dynamo

Zach Steinberger

Butler

Midfielder

The second big surprise of the first round goes to Zach Steinberger, a strong and simple midfielder from Butler.  Steinberger has been projected in the second round so this appears a bit early, but he definitely improved his draft stock with a solid combine.

9

Toronto FC

Clement Simonin

N.C. State

Defender

Toronto choose a complete unknown player in Simonin, a defender out of NC State.  Toronto FC address a need at defense, but I can honestly say not one reporter has heard of him.  Hopefully Greg Vanney and his staff did their research and Simonin becomes the Akindele of 2015.

10

Sporting KC

Connor Hallisey

California

Midfielder

Vermes goes with the best pure winger in the draft with Hallisey, a left sided player who endured a solid combine.  If Hallisey can retain the form he finished his college campaign in, he’ll find minutes in this already talented Sporting KC frontline.

11

Toronto FC

Skylar Thomas

Syracuse

Defender

Toronto FC goes with a very safe pick, but a smart one with Skylar Thomas.  The 6’3” center back is athletic and an overall solid presence in the back. He may not have a high ceiling, but you know what you’re getting from the former Syracuse star.

12

Sporting KC

Saad Abdul-Salaam

Akron

Defender

Sporting KC select Abdul-Salaam, a very risky pick in the mind of many scouts.  The former Akron right back at 6’3” sometimes looks a bit awkward on the flank, but he’s done an adequate job in his Zips career.  Although, every chance Abdul-Salaam gets he goes forward, something coach Vermes loves.

13

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Tim Parker

St. John’s

Defender

Coach Robinson gets who he called “the best available player” in Parker, an athletic center back out of St. John’s.  The combine standout can help sure up a shaky Whitecaps back line and look to earn significant minutes in his rookie campaign.

14

Colorado Rapids

Axel Sjoberg

Marquette

Defender

The Rapids select who is now believed to be the tallest field player in MLS, with Axel Sjoberg, a towering center back from Marquette.  Sjoberg improved his stock with a solid combine, showing he can move better than his size indicates.  Expect Sjoberg to work his into some games this year.

15

FC Dallas

Otis Earle

UC-Riverside

Defender

Pareja, the coach of the last two MLS rookies of the year, grabs arguably the top outside back in the draft, Otis Earle.  Son of announcer Robbie Earle, Otis is an athletic outside back with attributes of a winger.  He has the ability to slot into the FC Dallas lineup from the onset.

16

Seattle Sounders FC

Cristian Roldan

Washington

Midfielder

With one of the most surprising drop offs in recent MLS Superdraft history, Seattle steals a pre-draft sure fire top 2 pick in Cristian Roldan.  The creative center midfielder was expected to be a top 2 pick, so the Sounders are thrilled to grab the local college standout.  Expect Roldan to play for S2 before working his way up to the first team.

17

D.C. United

Miguel Aguilar

San Francisco

Forward

D.C. United, a team fairly solid everywhere grab Aguilar an under the radar forward who boosted his draft stock with a very good combine.  Aguilar will need to have a very good preseason to earn minutes for one of the top teams in the East.

18

New York Red Bulls

Leo Stolz

UCLA

Midfielder

The Red Bulls snag the Hermann Trophy Winner with the 18th pick in the draft, an impressive feat.  Stolz, a creative German midfielder listed the Metros as one of the teams he would play for, thereby making this pick a steal.  The former Bruins playmaker may be the most MLS ready midfielder in this draft class.

19

Columbus Crew

Sergio Campbell

UCONN

Defender

The Crew select an absolute beast of a defender in Campbell.  The former Huskies center back wins most headers and tackles he encounters, but there’s questions about his ability with the ball at his feet.  Coach Berhalter is capable of molding Campbell into a very good MLS play

20

Sporting KC

Amadou Dia

Clemson

Midfielder

Dia, an under-the-radar midfielder endured a very successful career with the Tigers, competing against some of the nation’s top teams and holding his own.  Sporting KC could use some depth at defensive mid and Dia provides this.

21

LA Galaxy

Ignacio Maganto

Iona

Midfielder

Bruce Arena picks one of the combine’s best players in Ignacio Maganto.  The Iona midfielder displayed his electric skills and quickness at the combine to help raise his stock prior to the draft.  Maganto will likely play for Los Dos (Galaxy USL team), but is talented enough to find his way to the first team.

,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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22

Orlando City

Connor Donovan**

N.C. State.

Defender

23

NYCFC

Connor Brandt

San Diego

Midfielder

24

Portland Timbers

Andy Thoma

Washington

Defender

25

Orlando City

Akeil Barrett

Tulsa

Forward

26

Colorado Rapids

Joseph Greenspan

Navy

Defender

27

Real Salt Lake

Boyd Okwuonu

North Carolina

Defender

28

Chicago Fire

Kingsley Bryce

St. Louis

Forward

29

Toronto FC

Wesley Charpie

South Florida

Defender

30

Houston Dynamo

OumarBallo

UMBC

Defender

31

Philadelphia Union

DzenanCatic

Davenport

Forward

32

Portland Timbers

Christian Volesky

SIUE

Forward

33

Seattle Sounders FC

Tyler Miller

Northwestern

Goalkeeper

34

Portland Timbers

Kharlton Belmar

VCU

Forward

35

Columbus Crew

Sagio Lev-Ari

CSUN

Forward

36

Houston Dynamo

Rob Lovejoy

North Carolina 

Forward

37

Toronto FC

Edwin Rivas

Cal St. Northridge

Forward

38

Vancouver Whitecaps

Kay Banjo

UMBC

Forward

39

New York Red Bulls

Stefano Bonomo

California

Forward

40

Seattle Sounders FC

Oneil Fisher

New Mexico

Defender

41

Philadelphia Union

Eric Bird

Virginia

Midfielder

42

D.C. United

Dan Metzger

Maryland

Midfielder

College Soccer News 2015 MLS Mock Draft Updated - by Ben Roth

January 14, 2015 - The countdown to the MLS Superdraft is over.  With just one day to go until the league’s biggest offseason event of the year, MLS has made 17 signings total, made up of 12 seniors and 5 Generation Adidas (GA) players.  The player combine, an event in Fort Lauderdale where teams get their last chance to evaluate the nation’s top college prospects concluded with many major changes taking place.  Some high profile players such as UC Davis defender, Ramon Martin Del Campo may have lowered their draft stocks while the likes of smaller school players such as Ignacio Maganto (Iona) and Dzenan Catic (Davenport) boosted their draft position dramatically.  As every year, there will be plenty of trades to come during the coming 24 hours, but as things stand, this is College Soccer News’ final 2015 MLS Mock Superdraft.

 

TEAM

PLAYER

COLLEGE

Position

ANALYSIS

1

Orlando City

Cyle Larin**

UCONN

Forward

Larin is a no brainer for Orlando City, a team with no glaring needs.  The athletic forward has loads of potential and it’s known that Healey has been to plenty of Larin’scollege games this year.  The Lions may consider other teams’ offers for the coveted #1 pick, but ultimately, as an expansion side they want to make a splash in their first season; and Larin is that player to do so.

2

NYCFC

Cristian Roldan**

Washington

Midfielder

Roldan, a crafty playmaker also capable of playing a box-to-box role is a perfect fit for Kreis, a coach known to love technical players.  The GA prospect can play anywhere in the attack, a very beneficial aspect, expecially with Mix Diskerud joining the squad.Side note: there’s rumors of NYCFC looking to trade down for more draft picks and allocation money.

3

Montreal Impact

Khiry Shelton

Oregon St.

Forward

Shelton, an explosive forward with an ability to play on the wings can immediately help bolster a struggling Impact side.  The former Beaver striker was often injured in college, but when healthy he has the talent to be an MLS stud.

4

San Jose Earthquakes

Connor Donovan**

NC State

Defender

The Quakes’ grab Donovan, a young GA player, they can mold into a top prospect.  Donovan reads the game well, but will need to gain experience, maybe in USL Pro before being able to make an impact.

5

Portland Timbers

Nick Besler

Notre Dame

Midfielder

Porter goes with Besler, a hard working, simplistic defensive midfielder who could be a solid MLS player in his rookie season.  Besler, a real competitor boosted his draft stock with a very good combine.

6

Toronto FC

Alex Bono**

Syracuse

Goalkeeper

Toronto grab recent U.S National Team call-up Alex Bono, a 6’3” agile goalkeeper.  The Hermann Trophy Award finalist is the top keeper in the draft and a known commodity.  Teams will be looking to trade up for the former Orange net-minder.

7

Chicago Fire

Dan Metzger

Maryland

Midfielder

The Fire snag Metzger, one of the standouts at the combine.  The former Terps’ defensive midfielder is a technical true #6 who loves to sit in front of his back line and spray the ball around.

8

Houston Dynamo

Boyd Okwuono

UNC

Defender

Okwuono, a very consistent player who rarely loses the ball is a smart pick here as he can help address the Dynamo’s need in the backline.  At 5’8”, he may project more as a right back in MLS.  There were some questions about Okwuono’sMLS readiness, but he really impressed at the combine, showing how polished he is.

9

Toronto FC

FataiAlashe

Syracuse

Goalkeeper

Toronto pick a hard nosed defensive midfielder, Alashe who can be a great bench option and compete with Kyle Bekker for minutes.

10

Sporting KC

Tim Parker

St. John’s

Defender

Vermes goes with Tim Parker, an athletic center back who had an outstanding combine.  The 6’2” defender was near the top of every leaderboard in the physical testing and has the speed to keep up with MLS’ fastest attackers.  The former St. John’s captain is a great pick up for a team struggling with defensive depth.

11

Toronto FC

Romario Williams**

UCF

Forward

With Toronto’s third pick of the first round, they choose, Williams, a semi-risky, but a budget saving pick, since he’s a GA.  He’s an athletic player who can learn behind the likes of Gilberto and Altidore and gain some minutes as the year goes on.  Many see Williams as a hit-or-miss prospect

12

Sporting KC

Otis Earle

UC Riverside

Defender

For a team that lost Collin this offseason and has virtually no depth at outside back, Earle is a great pick.  He’s a solid defender who can contribute from day one.

13

Vancouver Whitecaps

Axel Sjoberg

Marquette

Defender

The Whitecaps need defensive depth and with Sjoberg, they grab a 6’7” center back, who has better mobility than some may think.  Sjoberg has decent feet and is essentially a magnet in the air.  He would be a smart draft move for the Whitecaps.

14

Columbus Crew

Andy Craven

UNC

Forward

The Crew grab a Hermann Trophy award finalist in Craven, a natural finisher.  The former Tar Heel will add to a forward line who apart from Kamara, isn’t very consistent.  I could see Craven being a threat off the bench

15

FC Dallas

Ramon Martin Del Campo

UC Davis

Defender

FC Dallas pick Del Campo, a normally consistent central defender with good feet.  The UC Davis captain, struggled in his first two games at the combine, and therefore dropped his stock big time, but he’s definitely still a first round talent.

16

Real Salt Lake

Andy Thoma

Washington

Midfielder

With RSL losing their long time left back Chris Wingert, they replace him with speedster Andy Thoma.  The former UW outside back had a bit of a disappointing combine, but he’s still one of top left backs in the draft and is too good to pass up at #16.

17

DC United

Oumar Ballo

UMBC

Defender

For a team solid everywhere, they grab Ballo, a local product who could develop.  The UMBC center back is a physical beast, but there are questions about his ability to play out of the back.

18

New York Red Bulls

Dzenan Catic

Davenport (NAIA)

Forward

With all the changes going on in Harrison, the team really needs to make a solid pick in the draft and they go with DzenanCatic, one of the most impressive players from the combine.  At 6’3”, the athletic forward is explosive and has very good feet for his size.  He could be a great signing for a team lacking forward depth.

19

Colorado Rapids

Eric Bird

Virginia

Midfielder

The Rapids need desperately need depth at center mid so they pick Bird, a playmaker for the reigning national champs.  Bird, a hard working midfielder is versatile enough to play anywhere in the attack.  If he drops to 19, Mastroeni will be glad to take him.

20

Sporting KC

Connor Hallisey

CAL

Midfielder

If Sporting KC keep this pick, they could do much worse than picking up Hallisey, a crafty left winger who could fight for playing time.Hallisey endured a solid combine and even notched a goal, proving his worth as this draft’s best pure winger.

21

LA Galaxy

Leo Stolz

UCLA

Midfielder

The reigning MLS Cup champs grab the 2014 Hermann Trophy Award winner, LeoStolz.  It’s a bit of an odd situation because Stolz has been on trial with teams in Europe, but says he would still play in MLS depending on what team he was drafted by.  The former Bruin playmaker is arguably the best player in the draft, but his current status drops him to pick 21, where Arena rolls the dice and hopes he joins.

 

 

 

22

Orlando City

Seth Casiple

CAL

Midfielder

 

23

New York FC

Aaron Simmons

UCLA

Def/Mid

 

24

Portland Timbers

Miguel Aguilar

San Francisco

Forward

 

25

Orlando City SC

James Rogers

New Mexico

Midfielder

 

26

Colorado Rapids

Akeil Barrett

Tulsa

Midfielder

 

27

Seattle Sounders

Jordan Murrell

Syracuse

Defender

 

28

Chicago Fire

Skylar Thomas

Syracuse

Defender

 

29

Toronto FC

Anthony Manning

Saint Louis

Defender

 

30

Sporting KC

Sagi Lev-Ari

CSUN

Forward

 

31

Philadelphia Union

Ignacio Maganto

Iona

Midfielder

 

32

Portland Timbers

Jose Ribas

Creighton

Defender

 

33

New England Revolution

Tyler Arnone

Michigan

Midfielder

 

34

Portland Timbers

Sergio Campbell

UCONN

Defender

 

35

Columbus Crew

Saad Abdul-Salaam

Akron

Defender

 

36

Houston Dynamo

Rob Lovejoy

UNC

Midfielder

 

37

Toronto FC

Andy Bevin

West Virginia

Forward

 

38

Vancouver Whitecaps

Zach Steinberger

Butler

Midfielder

 

39

New York Red Bulls

Cameron Porter

Princeton

Forward

 

40

Seattle Sounders

Connor Brandt

San Diego

Defender

 

41

New England Revolution

Joseph Greenspan

Navy

Defender

 

42

DC United

Andrew Wolverton

Penn State

Goalkeeper

 

** indicates a Generation Adidas player


Ben Roth is a contributing writer for College Soccer News.  He will be in attendance covering the MLS Superdraft live from the Philadelphia Convention Center on January 15th.  He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.