A Mock Projection Of The MLS Draft - By Ben Roth

The college soccer season is over, but for some special players, their journey will continue.   A selected group of 50 seniors were chosen to compete at the MLS combine in Fort Lauderdale from January 10-14 for one last chance to impress the MLS scouts.  The combine is followed by the highly anticipated MLS Draft two days later. 

The draft is nearly impossible to project due to the fact that the Generation Adidas (GA) players and future homegrown talents (HG) have yet to be announced.  On top of that, trades regarding players, picks, and allocation money on draft day all affect the outcome.  Some of the potentially biggest names in this year’s draft (Leo Stolz, Schillo Tshuma, Marlon Hairston, etc), have yet to announce their decision regarding returning to school or signing with the MLS.  With that said, College Soccer News has analyzed team’s draft needs and found the best player to fit each team’s system.  Without further ado, the College Soccer News first MLS Mock Draft.

  1. DC United: Christian Dean (California)*: Despite popular belief that Mullins would be the sure fire first pick, Dean (1g, 4a) seems the more likely candidate thus far.  With the additions of Eddie Johnson and Fabian Espindola, the DC United attack looks to be set for 2014.  For a DC United defense that allowed 59 goals last year (2nd worst in MLS), Dean is a solid pick up.  The Golden Bears center back has the athleticism to compete at the next level.  There are questions regarding Dean’s readiness from day one, but his potential erases those questions.  The Black-and-Red may sign Wake Forest product Jalen Robinson, another center back, but Dean still provides depth for this struggling back line.
  1. Philadelphia Union: Steve Birnbaum (California): Possible Generation Adidas signees Leo Stolz or Schillo Tshuma could end up here if they sign, but nothing is definite regarding  their status.  Birnbaum (10g, 1a), the second consecutive California University center back off the board, may be the most MLS ready player in the draft.  With the Union captain and current center back, Carlos Valdes asking to play in Columbia in 2014, Birnbaum sounds like the reasonable choice.  The 6’2” defender could step in right away and make an impact for this young squad.  If the Union don’t take Birnbaum here, they shouldn’t expect the redshirt senior to be available by their 2nd pick (6th overall).
  1. Vancouver Whitecaps: Andre Blake (UCONN)*: The Whitecaps currently only have one goalie rostered so Blake is the reasonable choice.  Only one goalie has been taken in the first round in the last five years, but Blake has that type of talent.  The 6’4” net-minder has all the intangibles to make it as an MLS keeper and is definitely a can’t miss prospect.  Vancouver fans may be angry about wasting a 3rd overall pick on a goalkeeper, but many teams may trade up for the Huskies keeper before the Caps’ second pick. 
  1. Columbus Crew: AJ Cochran (Wisconsin)*:  In a draft loaded with center back prospects, the Crew could go with a couple players, but the Wisconsin center back is an excellent option.  Cochrane, a natural leader at 6’3” 195 LBS has the size, and athleticism to compete at the next level without a doubt.  MLS may decide not to sign two GA center backs, assuming Dean is a guarantee, but if they do Cochran will go early.  The College Soccer News First Team All American has youth national team experience and should be able to slide in immediately in many MLS team’s starting XI.
  1. FC Dallas: Patrick Mullins (Maryland):  The 2012 Hermann Trophy Award winner slides to five here as the best player available.  Many wonder where Mullins (19g, 8a) will fit into an MLS system, but the Terps captain is a natural goal scorer, which translates at any level.  From a pure athleticism standpoint Mullins may not be at the level of some others, but he has poacher and leadership qualities as well as a winning mentality, which many coaches are kean on.  A solid MLS combine showing for the College Soccer News First Team All American may raise his stock further and bump him into a top 3 pick.
  1. Philadelphia Union: Steve Neumann (Georgetown):  The Hoyas playmaker is another talent who doesn’t quite have a definite position at the next level, but he’s too good to pass up on.  Neumann (10g, 6a), a local product, could see himself play into the Union system as a midfielder or second striker
  1. Vancouver Whitecaps: Cyle Larin (UCONN)*: The UCONN forward endured a tremendous freshman campaign including a particularly impressive postseason, which definitely raised his stock.  Despite the plethora of forward talent for the Whitecaps, Larin (14g, 3a) has a special something about him that makes him difficult to pass up on.  The 6’2” 190 LBS striker is a raw talent with massive potential.  If the Canadian youth national teamer signs a GA contract, expect him to be a top 10 pick.
  1. Chicago Fire: Pedro Ribeiro (Coastal Carolina): The Coastal Carolina midfielder is a smart pickup for the Fire.  Ribeiro (11g, 7a) is more of a deep lying playmaker, but he has the ability to get forward.  The Brazilian will take up an international spot, but a team will take the chance on the talented center midfielder.  At 6’3”, 208 LBS, the College Soccer News First Team All American member, has good size and surprisingly quick feet. 
  1. San Jose Earthquakes: Eric Miller (Creighton)*: With Steve Beitashour bound for Europe, the Quakes need a suitable outside back option, and Miller is the best in this draft.  The Generation Adidas prospect is very versatile, but would fit in best as a right back in the pros.  Miller (3g, 1a), a US youth national teamer has good size and covers the flanks well.  Definitely a safe pick, the Bluejay defender should be able to start right away.
  1. Montreal Impact: Ben Sweat (USF):  The Impact are short on quality defenders and with Sweat, they pick up the best left back in the draft.  The All-AAC First teamer covers a lot of ground and tightens up a shaky Montreal back line.
  1. Colorado Rapids: Jared Watts (Wake Forest): The Rapids pick the best player available here with Watts (2g, 4a).  The three-time First Team All-ACC selection is a quality defensive midfielder who provides depth for an overall solid lineup.  The US youth national teamer and Demon Deacon captain does the dirty work and is a superb passer, something that makes him an asset for any MLS club.
  1. New England Revolution: JJ Koval (Stanford): The Revs need help in the center of the park and the Stanford captain is a great start to help the team makeover.  Koval (2g, 1a), a tough defensive midfielder could slide in next to Scott Caldwell to form a talented young midfield duo.  The All-Pac12 First Team selection physically dominates, something to compliment the technical Caldwell.
  1. Seattle Sounders: Luca Gimenez (Wake Forest): The Rave Green are a bit weak on the left side of the park, so Gimenez (8g, 5a), a talented winger would help immediately.  Gimenez might not be able to crack the starting XI from the start, but the All-ACC first teamer is talented enough to fight for playing time.  The Demon Deacon senior is capable of playing on either side of the midfield or up top, a quality important to Seattle.
  1. LA Galaxy: Marco Franco (UC Irvine):  The Galaxy are pretty set in most positions, but could add depth at outside back.  In a draft class weak in the outside back position, Franco could be a great pick up.  The UC Irvine right back isn’t on the initial combine list, but should be added on later.  Franco, a US youth national teamer and Big West Defender of the Year is a California product, which makes the Galaxy even more likely to take him.
  1. Toronto FC: Kyle Venter (New Mexico):  The Reds need center back depth and Venter (1g, 1a) is the best available.  The College Soccer News 2nd team All American had a phenomenal year leading New Mexico to the final four.  Venter at 6’3” is a beast in the air and a good distributer coming out of the back. Many scouts see the Lobos captain as the quintessential MLS center back and someone who can step in right away.
  1. Houston Dynamo: Kevin Cope (Michigan State):  With Bobby Boswell’s return to DC United, the Dynamo have a spot to fill at center back.  Coach Kinnear could go with Cope or Van de Casteele, but many rate Cope (2g, 2a) higher.  The College Soccer News 3rd Team All American is good with his feet and a solid one vs one defender.  The Dynamo picking a center back might also depend on whether or not they sign Duke defender Sebastian Ibeagha to a homegrown contract.
  1. Portland Timbers: Grant Van de Casteele (Notre Dame):  Portland desperately needs help in the back line and although Porter may be tempted to grab an Akron player here, Van de Casteele is too good to pass up.  The Notre Dame center back brought his stock up big time during the Irish’s College Cup run.  Portland may not need to draft a center back depending on if Akron center back Bryan Gallego decides to sign with the Timbers during the offseason.
  1. Real Salt Lake: Joey Dillon (Georgetown):  Real Salt Lake are set in most positions, but don’t have a back up for Beckerman.  Therefore, the best defensive midfielder available is Big East Midfielder of the Year, Joey Dillon. New Head Coach Jeff Cassar might want to go with a safe pick, and Dillon, a four year starter with an engine is that guy.
  1. New England Revolution: Mamadou Diouf (UCONN):  The Revs could add some depth up top and Diouf, a talented forward from a local college is the top option.  The 6’1” Senegalese forward had an off year only scoring 2 goals for the Huskies, but his three previous years in Stoors have teams interested. 
  1. Chivas USA: Victor Chavez
  2. Seattle Sounders: Nikita Kotlov
  3. New York Red Bulls: Nick Hagglund
  4. Columbus Crew: AJ Corrado
  5. FC Dallas: Alex Martinez
  6. Philadelphia Union: Damion Lowe
  7. Portland Timbers: Reinaldo Brenes
  8. Philadelphia Union: Robbie Derschang
  9. San Jose Earthquakes: Rafael Diaz
  10. Montreal Impact: MacKenzie Pridham
  11. Vancouver Whitecaps: Romena Bowie
  12. New England Revolution: Akeil Barrett
  13. Houston Dynamo: Michael Calderon
  14. Colorado Rapids: Pete Caringi III
  15. New York Red Bulls: Mark Sherrod
  16. Colorado Rapids: Spencer Richey
  17. Portland Timbers: Aodhan Quinn
  18. Real Salt Lake: Carlos Benavides
  19. Sporting KC: Enrique Cardenas

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