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2017 MLS SuperDraft Analysis - by Ben Roth

January 13, 2017 - Los Angelas, California - As the American soccer landscape evolves and more MLS teams are signing homegrown players from their academy, the SuperDraft seems to be lessening in terms of impact. Despite what some perceive as the slow regression in talent in college soccer, there's still a handful of players each year that are able to make a positive impact in the MLS coming out of the draft.  Most, if not all of the first round picks will make the first team roster and around half of them will play significant minutes, while a few will be key players for their respective teams.

With the USL now providing a stable second team for most MLS franchises, many of these drafted players that would otherwise fall through the cracks in the American soccer system are now able to find consistent playing time in a competitive second division. Therefore, a strong majority of the players selected in the MLS SuperDraft today will be playing somewhere in the U.S. soccer pyramid.

There were forty-four players selected in the first two rounds with the following two rounds to take place next week via conference call. We'll provide a brief analysis for each player taken in the first round.

* denotes Generation Adidas

# denotes Canada Generation Adidas

Round One

1. Minnesota United:  Adu Danladi (UCLA)* - Adrian Heath drafts a potential star in former Bruins star, Abu Danladi. The Generation Adidas forward has electric place and is by far the most talented player in the draft. If the Right to Dream Academy striker can stay healthy he can form a terrific partnership with Christian Ramirez for years to come.


2. Atlanta United: Miles Robinson (Syracuse)* - Atlanta selects athletic center back Miles Robinson to help fill out their back line. The U.S. U-20 defender has the ability to be a stalwart in this league and will be able to learn from experienced Americans Michael Parkhurst and Greg Garza.


3. NYCFC:(Trade from Chicago Fire) - Jonathan Lewis (Akron)* - NYCFC trade 250k in allocation money to draft the MLS combine MVP. Lewis, another Generation Adidas signee is crafty and has a great soccer IQ, two traits, Patrick Vieira looks for in his players. Lewis, only playing a year in college may need some time to develop, but if their draft instincts are as correct as they were last year, Lewis will prove to be a good pick.


4. Portland Timbers: (Trade from Houston) - Jeremy Ebobisse (Duke/MLS) - Caleb Porter trades up and grabs U.S. U-20 forward Jeremy Ebobisse. There were talks of the former Blue Devil going number one so Portland will be grateful he drops to number 4. The pacey and technical forward will be an impact player  from day one for the Timbers.


5. Columbus Crew: Lalas Abubakar (Dayton) - The Crew grab one of the most impressive players from the combine in Abubakar. The bulky center back is a beast in the air and an all around great leader. Although off the radar a few weeks ago, it's not a surprise the former Dayton defender finds his way into the top five.  


6. San Jose Earthquakes: Jackson Yueill (UCLA)* - Dominic Kinnear takes a special midfielder with Yueill. The U.S. U-20 playmaker has a great soccer brain, but may need time to develop a bit physically to adapt to the league. Hopefully, the Quakes don't throw him on the bench with technical midfielder Tommy Thompson.


7. Vancouver Whitecaps: Jakob Nerwinski (Connecticut) - The Whitecaps take a bit of a surprise pick with Nerwinski, a blistering fast right back from UConn. Nerwinski was projected as a late first round, early second round selection, but Carl Robinson must've liked what he saw. Nerwinski will join a young Vancouver squad and look to compete for minutes with the likes of Cole Seiler and Christian Dean.


8. Atlanta United FC: Julian Gressel (Providence) - Tata Martino goes with a versatile senior midfielder in Gressel. The big time German combines power and technique and should earn minutes off the bench right away. The former Friar was consistent at the combine and showed his ability to play multiple positions in the attack throughout his career at Providence.


9. Columbus Crew: Nico Hansen (New Mexico) - The Crew select the senior winger from New Mexico. Hansen, a good one v. one player who's good at creating space didn't ave a spectacular combine, but his four years under Lobo head coach Jeremy Fishbein was enough to convince Columbus he was a worthy top ten pick.


10. Houston Dynamo: (Trade from Portland) - Joseph Holland (Hofstra) - Houston goes with a technical and explosive midfielder in Holland. The British playmaker played himself into the first round with a terrific combine and should succeed in Wilmer Cabrera's new system. Holland was on College Soccer News' short list of players who could improve their draft stock at the combine.


11. Chicago Fire: Daniel Johnson (Louisville) - The Fire take a shifty winger in Johnson. The former West Ham Academy product displayed his excellent vision and one v one ability at the combine all week to push his stock into the first round. It will be interesting to see how coach Veiljko Paunovic uses a player like Johnson considering he's dispatched similar players like homegrown midfielder Harry Shipp in the past.


12. DC United: Chris Odoi-Atsem (Maryland) - Ben Olsen grabs a local player who fits his style in athletic right back, Odoi-Atsem. The former Terp played primarily as a center back at College Park, but projects as a right back at the next level.  Odoi-Atsem is MLS ready and was projected as a top five pick so DC United got great value here.


13. Real Salt Lake: Reagan Dunk (Denver) - RSL take one of the most consistent players in college soccer with former Denver right back Dunk. While he didn't have the best of combines, Dunk's four years playing at Denver under Bobby Muuss and for the past two seasons under Jamie Franks speaks volumes. He was a leader of a backline that only lost a total of two games during his junior and senior seasons.


14. Sporting KC: Colton Storm (North Carolina) - Sporting KC, a franchise with a history of good draft picks, takes UNC right back Colton Storm. The former Tar Heel reads the game well and likes to join the attack at the right moments. Storm will likely develop with the Swope Park Rangers, SKC's USL Affiliate,  initially before taking on a greater role.


15. Colorado Rapids: Sam Hamilton (Denver) - The Rapids go with a local college player in Sam Hamilton. The midfielder with great vision and passing ability projects as a box to box player in the MLS. Hamilton will likely learn under Dillon Powers for a couple of years as he matures into a midfield role.


16. NYCFC: (Trade from Seattle Sounders): Kwame Awuah (Connecticut) - NYCFC were active with their second trade of the draft, taking Awuah, a player capable of playing right back or defensive midfielder.  With new MLS salary rules, the Canadian youth national teamer won't count as an international player for NYCFC, making him a smart selection.


17. New York Red Bulls: Zeiko Lewis (Boston College) - The Red Bulls said they were going to take the best player available and with that in mind they elected Zeiko Lewis. The left footed speedster is a great one v. one attacker and has a good finishing touch. Lewis was one of the more impressive players all week at the combine and had quite the bold acceptance speech.


18. FC Dallas: Jacori Hayes (Wake Forest) - FC Dallas get the steal of the draft in Hayes. The former Deacon midfielder is reminiscent of former Akron star Darlington Nagbe and shold shine in Oscar Pareja's possession based system full of young talent.


19. Montreal Impact: Nich DePuy (UC Santa Barbara) - A solid draft choice here for Montreal as they pick a big #9 in DePuy. The former Gaucho forward has great hold up play ability and should add another dimension to Montreal's attack.


20. New England Revolution: Brian Wright (Vermont) - The Revs take an exciting true striker with Brian Wright. The Canadian forward uses his body well and has good speed for a guy his size. He adds much needed depth to the forward position for Jay Heaps' side.


21. Toronto FC: Brandon Aubrey (Notre Dame) - Toronto adds to their back line by selecting the former Fighting Irish center back. Aubrey didn't have the best combine and therefore dropped out of the top ten, but was excellent in his four seasons at South Bend under Bobby Clark. Aubrey can play well out of the back, but there are questions regarding his one v. one ability at the next level.


22. Seattle Sounders: Brian Nana-Sinkam (Stanford) - The reigning MLS Cup champs select an underrated player in Nana-Sinkam. The two-time national champ is an aggressive center back with great one v. one defending ability.


Round Two

1 (23) Minnesota United: Alec Ferrell (Wake Forest) - Goalkeeper  

2 (24) Colorado Rapids: Liam Callahan (Syracuse) - Defender

3 (25) Philadelphia Union: Marcus Epps (South Florida) - Midfielder

4 (26) Chicago Fire: (Trade from Toronto FC): Stefan Cleveland (Louisville) - Goalkeeper

5 (27) Chicago Fire: (Trade from Toronto FC): Guillermo Delgado (Delaware) - Forward

6 (28) San Jose Earthquakes: Lindo Mfeka (South Florida) - Midfielder

7 (29) Vancouver Whitecaps: Francis DeVries (St. Francis) - Defender

8 (30) Houston Dynamo: Jake McGuire (Tulsa) - Goalkeeper

9 (31) New England Revolution: Napo Matsoso (Kentucky) - Midfielder

10 (32) Portland Timbers: Michael Amick (UCLA) - Defender

11 (33) - Philadelphia Union:- Aaron Jones (Clemson) - Defender

12 (34) DC United: Eric Klenofsky (Monmouth) - Goalkeeper

13 (35) Real Salt Lake: Justin Schmidt (Washington) - Defender

14 (36) Houston Dynamo: Danilo Radjen (Akron) - Defender  

15 (37) FC Dallas: Walker Hume (North Carolina) - Defender

16 (38) NYCFC: Jalen Brown (Xavier) - Forward  

17 (39) New York Red Bulls: Ethan Kutler (Colgate) - Midfielder  

18 (40) FC Dallas: Adonijah Reid (Canada GA)# - Forward

19 (41) Montreal Impact: Shamit Shome (FC Edmonton/Canada GA)# - Midfielder

20 (42) Minnesota United: Thomas de Villardi (Delaware) - Midfielder  

21 (43) DC United: Jo-Vetle Reminstad (Radford) - Defender

22 (44) Seattle Sounders: Dominic Oduro (FC Nordsjaelland) - Midfielder



Ben Roth is a Contributing Writer and Analyst for College Soccer News.  He was on location at both the MLS Combine which took place on January 8 through 12 in Los Angeles and the MLS Superdraft which was held on January 13 at the LA Convention Center. 

2017 College Soccer News MLS Mock SuperDraft by Ben Roth

Since the College Cup, there’s been plenty of movement as Homegrowns have been signed and MLS teams are gearing into the 2017 regular season. As with any mock draft, it’s nearly impossible to predict what will happen, but in speaking with MLS technical staffs and observing the combine, this is our best outlook.  MLS Superdraft day as usual will be filled with trades, but with the current alignment, this is how we see the picks panning out. 

The 2017 College Soccer News MLS Mock Superdraft

* indicates Generation Adidas (GA)

# indicates Canadian Generation Adidas

  1. Minnesota United: Jeremy Ebobisse (Duke/MLS)

Adrian Heath goes with the safe pick taking the talented U.S. youth national team forward.  The former Blue Devil adds pace and a good hold up play to an attack that already has the likes of Christian Ramirez and Miguel Ibarra.  Ebobisse, who didn’t play in the combine, should contribute right away to the expansion club.


  1. Atlanta United: Abu Danladi (UCLA)*

The Atlanta front office has done a great job prepping for their first season in MLS and they add the Danladi to their already stacked attacking contingent.  The Ghanaian forward has loads of potential and if he can stay healthy, can be the best player in this draft class. 


  1. Chicago Fire: Miles Robinson (Syracuse)*

The Fire have plenty of needs to address this offseason, starting with improving their backline.  With Robinson, they get a raw talent, who with correct grooming can become one of the best young defenders in the league.  The former Orange defender is the best athlete in the draft and as a GA doesn’t cost the Fire any cap space.


  1. Houston Dynamo: Chris Odoi-Atsem (Maryland)

With new Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera now at the helm, the Dynamo grab the most pro ready right back in the draft.  Odoi-Atsem, a great athlete and 1v1 defender may not have the high end potential of other prospects, but should be able to contribute to the Dynamo immediately. 


  1. Columbus Crew: Jonathan Lewis (Akron)*

            The Crew opt for the talented young midfielder who helped his case at the combine. Lewis, a U.S.youth international is a crafty and                  explosive midfielder who with some polishing can be an impact player for the Crew. 


  1. San Jose Earthquakes: Brandon Aubrey (Notre Dame)

The Quakes, who need help in multiple positions opt for a player who can help from day one.  Aubrey, a composed center back, didn’t stand out at the combine, but his 4 years of work in South Bend solidifies his worth as a top 10 pick.


  1. Vancouver Whitecaps: ShamitShome (FC Edmonton)#

The Whitecaps grab a Canadian youth international with pro experience in Shome.  With his Canadian GA designation, the midfielder with great vision would be a smart pickup for Vancouver.


  1. Atlanta United: Jackson Yueill (UCLA)*

 Atlanta will be grateful if the Generation Adidas signee drops to number eight.  Yueill, a U.S. youth national teamer was once in consideration to go #1, but there’s questions about his physical attributes at the next level.  Tata Martino would be excited to work with talented prospect.


  1. Columbus Crew: Nick DePuy (Santa Barbara)

Columbus needs depth up ton and they grab a natural goal scorer in DePuy.  The big #9, uses his body well in hold up play and should be a consistent contributor in the league. His ability is reminiscent of 2014 draftee Mark Sherrod.


  1. Portland Timbers: Justin Schmidt (Washington)

The Timbers nab a player they’ve bound to have seen plenty in Schmidt.  The left-footed center back didn’t stand out at the combine, but he’s one capable of contributing right away.  Schmidt reads the game superbly and does a great job of reading attackers and blocking shots.


  1. Chicago Fire: Jacori Hayes (Wake Forest)

The Fire get a steal in the versatile Hayes.  The Wake Forest playmaker, with a style similar to Darlington Nagbe is one of the top talents in the draft.  The only reason he falls outside the top 10 is due to questions regarding his size and position at the next level.


  1. DC United: Lalas Abubakar (Dayton)

DC United gets one of the most impressive players at the combine in Abubakar.  The center back was all over the place winning tackles, clearing headers, and organizing his back line all week.  While relatively under the radar before the combine, he raised some teams’ eyebrows with his dominating play at the StubHub Center.


  1. Real Salt Lake: Daniel Johnson (Louisville)

RSL get a relatively unknown commodity prior to the combine, with Daniel Johnson.  The technical winger impressed teams with his vision, 1v1 ability and knack for making defenders miss.


  1. Sporting KC: Julian Gressel (Providence)

Sporting KC has a history of good draft picks and they grab another one in Gressel.  The versatile German midfielder has the combination of athleticism, technique, and soccer IQ which will likely see him succeed in MLS.


  1. Colorado Rapids: Brian Wright (Vermont)

The Rapids will look to improve on their 39 goals in 2016 and the first step is in drafting Wright.  The Canadian forward uses his 6’0” 180 LBS frame well and has a great goal scoring record.


  1. Seattle Sounders: Adonijah Reid (Canadian YNT)#

The Sounders nab a player for the future with Reid.  The Canadian GA, at only 16 years old has a bright future ahead of him.  Reid, despite his small frame, rides challenges well on top of bringing explosive and creative attacking qualities to the table.


  1. New York Red Bulls: Zeiko Lewis (Boston College)

The Red Bulls, in the midst of all their offseason chaos, claim they will take the best player available and with that in mind they take BC winger Zeiko Lewis.  The left footed winger impressed teams with his quickness, decisive 1v1 ability and scoring ability this week.


  1. FC Dallas: Colton Storm (North Carolina)

FC Dallas, while fairly stable in most positions, get Storm, a solid right back.  Storm isn’t going to wow you with any particular skill set, but he’s a well rounded defensively player and will pick his moments to go forward.


  1. Montreal Impact: Guillermo Delgado (Delaware)

Montreal add another young contributor to their attacking core.  Delgado, who scored an impressive 49 goals in college, brings pace, great off ball movement, and clinical finishing ability.


  1. New England Revolution: Joseph Holland (Hofstra)

            The Revs grab Holland, a very talented British midfielder who shined on day two of the combine. The former Pride #10 has great                       on ball skill, vision, and the ability to pick out a pass.


21.  Toronto FC: Chris Nanco (Syracuse)

The MLS Cup runner-ups grab a pacey Canadian attacker in Nanco.  The former Orange forward will likely be a winger at the next level and could be a fascinating bench option for Greg Vanney’s side.


  1. Seattle Sounders: Brian Nana-Sinkam (Stanford)

The Sounders take another player who’s coming off a championship in back-to-back College Cup champ, Nana-Sinkam.  The aggressive center back showed his formidable 1 v 1 defensive skills and reading of the game throughout the week and is a smart pick at #22.



Ben Roth is a Contributing Writer and Analyst for College Soccer News.  He will be on location at both the MLS Combine which will take place on January 8 through 12 in Los Angeles and the MLS Superdraft which will be held on January 13 at the LA Convention Center. 

The 2017 MLS SuperDraft - Who Can Improve Their Draft Stock At The Upcoming Player Combine - by Ben Roth

January 2, 2017 - With the annual list of MLS Combine invitees recently announced, it’s time to start analyzing which players can improve their draft stock.  In general, the combine is a bit of a crapshoot, as there usually isn’t a direct correlation between combine performance and MLS career success.  Many of these college players have played 80+ games with their respective college team, but their ability will be critiqued based off of three games playing with relatively unfamiliar players. 

With that said, this is the platform that many players need to boost their stock.  For players with limited national exposure, this is their opportunity to shine.  College Soccer News takes a look at which players need a solid combine to catapult them up MLS teams’ draft boards.



Joseph Holland (Midfielder - Hofstra): Holland (3g, 8a), playing in the Colonial Athletic Conference (CAA) hasn’t gotten as much recognition as he deserves.  The Pride’s #10 has been one of the most consistent playmakers in the country and deserves a look at the next level.  Holland, the 2015 CAA Player of the Year has a great change of pace, impeccable vision and the ability to feather balls over the back line. The London native has an impressive production rate as he’s amassed 19 goals and 28 assists since arriving in Hempstead. 

While maybe not high on many team’s draft boards, the midfielder has enough talent to be a first round selection.

 

 



Chris Nanco (Forward - Syracuse): Nanco (7g, 1a), a first team All-ACC selection is a borderline first round pick, but could use a great combine to shoot him up the boards.  The Orange forward scored 20 goals in his 4 years under Coach McIntyre.  The Sigma FC product has thoroughly improved his game since his freshmen year.  Nanco has the ability to get in behind the defense and has gotten better at timing his off ball movement and finishing. 

While already on many teams draft boards, if the Canadian youth international can turn a few heads in Los Angeles, he can sneak into the first round.

 

 

 



Connor Maloney (Forward - Penn State): Maloney (7g, 5a), a three time 1st Team All-Big Ten honoree should be a no brainer first round pick, but his size undeservedly puts him down the charts. The Nittany Lion forward is a pit bull up top with the technique and soccer IQ to match it (think Sergio Aguero).  MLS teams will likely look to put Maloney on the wing, a position he’s played in the past.  The versatile forward has notched 26 goals and 17 assists in his 4 years at University Park, playing in arguably the second best conference in the country. 

Although he’s been competing against top quality in college, MLS teams will love to see how he matches up against the top defenders in the country.

 

 



Julian Gressel (Midfielder - Providence): Gressel (15g, 6a), a College Soccer News First Team All American is another borderline first round pick. The German attacker is versatile enough to play anywhere in the midfield or up top, which only benefits him. The MAC Hermann Trophy semi-finalist has great hold up play, links well with his teammates and plays with an aggressive mentality. His physical game translates well to MLS, but he’s still behind all the Generation Adidas guys and some senior attackers in terms of draft stock. 

Gressel’s 30 goals and 26 assists are remarkable and there are rumors some teams value him as a top 10 pick, but he’ll need prove his worth at the combine.

 

 

 



Tanner Thompson (Midfielder - Indiana): While nobody would claim the Hoosiers aren’t in the national spotlight, Thompson (8g, 3a), falls into the category of underappreciated playmakers. The technical midfielder finally got the recognition he deserved in college this year, but it’ll take more to convince MLS scouts.  It’s unsure whether Thompson will be more of a box-to-box midfielder or a winger, something that may raise question marks.  Much like his brother Tommy, Tanner combines a great soccer mind with a deft touch and ability to pick out a pass.  Despite his skill, he’ll need to find the correct system to succeed in MLS. 

The College Soccer News 1st team All American will need a great showing at the combine to find his way into the first round. 

 

 



Ben Roth is a Contributing Writer and Analyst for College Soccer News.  He will be on location at both the MLS Combine which will take place on January 8 through 12 in Los Angeles and the MLS Superdraft which will be held on January 13 at the LA Convention Center.