SBI MLS Draft Big Board (Version 3.0)

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The 2010 MLS Draft is drawing ever closer and each passing week helps provide some focus into what we might see happen when the league's 16 teams converge on Philadelphia to select from this year's crop of talent.

The first batch of Generation adidas and senior signings were announced by MLS early this week, giving us some more insight into which players will definitely be available and just how much talent we can start expecting to see at the MLS Combine in Florida next month.

Top prospects Teal Bunbury, Jack McInerney, Dilly Duka and Blair Gavin have all signed, but many of the very best draft candidates, such as Tony Tchani, Ike Opara, Corben Bone and Danny Mwanga, are still sorting out deals.

Here is the newest SBI MLS Draft Big Board, which is put together with the help and input of player personnel experts in and around MLS. The Big Board is supposed to be a measure of the MLS Draft prospects based on their ability and their value in the eyes of MLS scouts. This isn't the same as a Mock Draft, which is based on where players may go depending on which teams pick where (our first SBI MLS Mock Draft should post on Christmas Day).

There haven't been many outrageous changes from last week's Big board, though Gavin makes his debut while North Carolina senior Zach Loyd makes a big jump into the first-round range.

Now, without further ado, here is the latest SBI MLS Draft Big Board:

SBI 2010 MLS Draft Big Board

(*Underclassman. For player profiles, click on each player's college)

1. IKE OPARA*, Wake Forest, D

Ike Opara

Close to signing a Generation adidas contract, Opara is consider by many scouts to be the top pro prospect in the draft. A prototypical central defender with an impressive combination of speed and size. Would have been a Top Three pick in 2009 draft, is a lock to be top two pick, though it is starting to look like Philadelphia will look elsewhere with the No. 1 overall pick. Didn't have the best College Cup, but scouts still love him and he's a lock Top Two pick if he comes out.

2. TEAL BUNBURY*, Akron, F

Has signed a Generation adidas contract and is starting to look like the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick by Philadelphia. Didn't have the College Cup Tournament you would have expected from a star forward, but still showed enough to merit being one of the first players taken in next month's draft. He's got the size-speed (6-foot-2) combo at forward that clubs love, not to mention a nose for goal he clearly inherited from his father, Canadian national team legend Alex Bunbury.

3. TONY TCHANI*, Virginia, M

Didn't dominate the College Cup, but still did more than enough to move up the Big Board. His strength on the ball was impressive, as was his ability to cover ground. Tchani's season started slowly due to injuries, but no player has boosted their stock more in the past month than Tchani. A 6-foot-4 playmaker who combines strength, a deft passing touch and goal-scoring ability, Tchani is at the top of some team's draft boards, though he has yet to sign a Generation adidas deal.

4. CORBEN BONE*, Wake Forest, M/F

Corben Bone

Wasn't the impact player some expected in the College Cup, but he did show flashes of the attacking qualities that have him so highly-rated. The most dangerous attacking player in the draft, Bone is a dynamic playmaker with great vision and a terrific motor. Has played predominantly on the wing for Wake Forest, but he's more likely a central midfielder on the pro level. There are rumblings that he is close to signing a Generation adidas deal.

5. DANNY MWANGA*, Oregon State, F


Possesses similar size-speed combination to Bunbury, and regarded by some as the more athletic prospect. Produced 14 goals this season. MLS is in hot pursuit but the Congolese-born striker is starting to look like the best bet to snub MLS for Europe.

6. TONI STAHL,  UConn, M

Strong, smart, tall (6-foot-3) and technically sound, Stahl is widely-regarded as the best defensive midfielder in the draft and potentially someone who can step in and start in year one like Sam Cronin did for Toronto FC. The Finland-born midfielder has signed a deal with MLS and can solidify his place as the most highly-regarded senior with a strong MLS Combine.

7. ANDREW WIEDEMAN*, California, F

Andrew Wiedeman

A productive goal scorer in the mold of Taylor Twellman, Wiedeman is considered polished enough to play minutes in MLS now and could be seen as a year-one contributor at forward. The buzz isn't quite as strong on his Generation adidas situation, but with Mwanga's plans in doubt, Wiedeman will be an even more enticing prospect for MLS to land.


Amobi Okugo

The nation's best freshman is also one of the players whose stock has increased the most during the NCAA Tournament. He's still just 18, and could stay in school since he's just a freshman, but MLS teams are already drooling over his box-to-box midfielder tools and upside. He is on the verge of signing a Generation adidas contract.

9. DILLY DUKA*,  Rutgers, M


Regarded by many as the most impressive of the U.S. Under-20 World Cup participants, Duka boasts good skill, touch and a surprising bite. He left Rutgers a year ago, but the U-20 World Cup was enough to shoot him up draft boards across the league. He was a member of the Red Bulls academy program during his Rutgers years, so New York is a good bet to try and move up and take him with a second first-round draft pick.

10. ANDRE AKPAN, Harvard, F


An athletic and polished forward who has been linked with moves to MLS for years, Akpan has the tools to step in and play in year one. A Generation adidas target for the past two years, Akpan recently signed with MLS and should move up draft boards now that it is clear he will be playing in the league (There had been concern he might bolt if he didn't like his draft position or contract).

11. AUSTIN DA LUZ, Wake Forest, M

Austin da Luz

Already a highly-regarded prospect, Da Luz boosted his stock more than any other player at the College Cup. His vision, touch and ability to work the left flank had scouts impressed. Should challenge Andre Akpan as second senior taken after Stahl.

12. LUIS GIL*, U.S. Under-17, M


One of the more enticing long-term prospects in the pool. Gil is just 16, but he's a bundle of skill who could blossom into a star if he's groomed properly. The question is where in the draft do you take a young talent who is a few years away from contributing? He has been approached with a considerable offer by MLS but has yet to sign.

13. BLAIR GAVIN, Akron, M


A gifted central midfielder who is adept at sparking attacks from deep in midfield with sharp passes, Gavin didn't exactly dominate in the College Cup but still showed enough flashes to lead MLS to offer him a Generation adidas deal. Gaven has the technical ability, but questions remain about his physical attributes. That won't stop him from going in the mid-to-late first round of the draft.

14. ZACH LOYD, North Carolina, M/D

Zach Loyd

A highly-regarded prospect even before the NCAA Tournament, Loyd's performance in the College Cup semifinals vs. Akron has catapulted him up the rankings and helped make him one of the first seniors signed by MLS. He's natural defensive midfielder who played central defense for UNC this season because the team needed him there. All Loyd did was establish himself as one of the best defenders in the college game. Now scouts see him as a midfielder who can also provide depth in the back, versatility that has boosted his value.

15. JACK McINERNEY*,  U.S. Under-17, F


While Dilly Duka's stock jumped after the Under-20 World Cup, McInerney's dropped. That said, he's still an exciting prospect with a nose for goal and good touch and moves. McInerney has signed with MLS as a Generation adidas player and now we will see just how early he will go in the draft given the fact that he is 17 and isn't going to help right away. There are other more experienced players on the board who could go higher if teams are looking for help right away, but McInerney is still a quality prospect who should go in the first round.

16. OFORI SARKODIE, Indiana, D

Ofori Sarkodie

The best fullback available in the draft, Sarkodie is a left back prospect who should garner serious attention on draft day. Experienced at multiple positions in defense, Sarkodie should be one of the first seniors taken and could wind up going early if a team in need of fullback help bypasses the Generation adidas prosects to draft him.


Kyle Nakazawa

Injuries have plagued Nakazaway throughout his UCLA career, but the former U.S. youth international put together a solid senior season that catapulted him up the rankings. There are still concerns about his health, but he will have a chance to ease some of those concerns at the MLS Combine.

18. ZACH SCHILAWSKI,  Wake Forest, F

Zack Schilawski

Showed some good speed and movement in the College Cup, but he didn't finish chances and lost some ground to teammate Da Luz. Wake Forest's leading goal scorer should still be a popular prospect come draft time and should go in the late-first, early-second round range, though a strong MLS Combine could improve that.


In a draft light on central defenders, Watson-Siriboe is a prototypical big back who has the tools and resume to have teams paying close attention come draft day. Arguably the second-best central defender after Opara, Watson-Siriboe is 6-foot-3, was a three-year starter at UConn and is poised to move into the first-round range with a strong MLS Combine.

20. SEAN JOHNSON*, Central Florida, GK

Sean Johnson

While he isn't an MLS-ready goalkeeper like Stefan Frei was last season, Johnson's physical attributes (a quick 6-foot-4, 220) have goalkeeper coaches in MLS drooling at the thought of being able to work with such a talented young specimen. A back-up on the U.S. Under-20 national team, Johnson is nearing a Generation adidas deal (Central Florida has already removed him from the team roster on its website) and should be the first goalkeeper off the board come draft day.



23. RONNIE BOUEMBOUE, North Carolina State, F

24. JOVAN BUBOJNA, Illinois-Chicago, GK 

25. PHIL EDGINGTON, Louisville, D

26. ROSS LaBAUEX, Virginia, M

27. NELSON BECERRA, St. John’s, M

28. ALAN SANCHEZ, North Carolina State, M/F

29. NICK CARDENAS, San Diego State, D

30. BRIGHT DIKE, Notre Dame, F


What do you think of this week's Big Board? Share your thoughts below.

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63 Responses to SBI MLS Draft Big Board (Version 3.0)

  1. cj says:

    Looks like athleticism is leading the day? How many technical players are in this top 20? Until MLS changes the way referees call games in the MLS, this will be a league of “bangers.”

  2. Texar says:

    Merry Christmas Ives! The best for you and your family (and readers of this site). I just have a question, how many of the above players are americans?

  3. Joamiq says:

    So basically, you’re saying the Red Bulls are almost certainly taking Opara. That’s fine by me

  4. Robert says:

    What are the best national team prospects here? Anyone who might make it to South Africa?

  5. Robert says:

    and happy holidays to all

  6. kartik says:

    dude, it’s not christmas yet

  7. kartik says:

    lol at robert

  8. Lorenzo says:

    Is Blair Gavin purposelly trying to look like Eddie Gaven?

  9. Scott A says:

    Bright Dike?

  10. Brian says:

    What happened to the Luis Gil to Arsenal deal?

  11. ahm says:

    i was curious about that as well, that’s all i heard during and after the cup was how gil was going to europe. anyway i was wondering if anyone could give a rundown on which players are USMNT prospects or on the fence between the US and another country. I’d find it really interesting, thanks

  12. John says:

    Well I know Teal Bunbury has declared he will play for Canada

  13. Sonicdeathmonkey says:

    There obviously isn’t one. Just because a story pops up like “Arsenal is interested in Gill” doesn’t make it a “deal” until they actually sign him. And there certainly hasn’t been anything out there that says he has signed.

  14. Judging Amy says:

    An athletic player and a technical player are not mutually exclusive. The talent coming out of US colleges is definitely getting better. The fact is that soccer is a game where athleticism is essential (in any league). That’s the nature of the game today. The best players in the world will always be athletic freaks combined with unreal technique.

  15. Chris in Belfast says:

    I’d be willing to place a lot of money on none of these guys going to South Africa.

    Only a couple of them have played for the US in the youth set-ups, and none of them have taken a cap for the US senior team, and none of them were called in for the January camp. I think it is safe to say that any of these guys are prospects for Brazil at best.

  16. wilyboy says:

    For some reason, Akpan is jumping out as a smart pickup for DC. Probably because he’s been maturing and scoring a ton of goals, has some good skill and spark United need ASAP. Though Okugo might be a good option considering Ben Olsen’s retirement, there might not be a tremendous defensive pick this time round.

    Luis Gil… who’s going to pick the 16 year old, despite the talent? Probably someone with two early draft picks (not DC).

  17. Brian says:

    Well yeah obviously there isn’t one, otherwise he wouldn’t be in talks with MLS. I remember Arsenal was interested in signing Gil to a youth contract or something like that. I don’t follow the youth national teams very much so I was just curious as if they were still in talks or if Arsenal was still interested.

  18. Lorenzo says:

    I was reading about Donovan’s early years with Leverkusen, and I really think MLS teams HAVE to get their abilities to groom young players up to par.

    I cannot imagine moving several hundred if not thousands of miles from my home and family, with different languages and cultures, and being expected to take care of myself to a certain degree ALL ON TOP OF transitioning to training in a very demanding professional environment.

    Unless it was to England, I don’t think I would want to send my son. What if the offers are from Sporting Lisbon or Hertha Berlin or PSG. I would rather my kid stay in the USA where a flight was quick and easy, and i could call or text anytime, and I knew he would be surrounde by his own culture and fellow countryfolks.

    I like european soccer, just think it is a lot for a teenager. Sure germans, spainards, english, french, Argentines, Brazilians, all these players do it, but they have the fortunateness to do it in their home countries.

    I hope Danny Cruz, Tristan Bowen, Luis Gil, McInerny, Ibrahim, Gerson Mayen, Jorge Flores, Peri Marosevic, Brek Shea, Anthony Wallace, Chris Sietz, Josh Lambo, Byran Leyva, Tyler Deric, Alex Nimo all benefit from being apart of the MLS as a start of their youth career.

  19. Lorenzo says:

    uh… typos. Brazil and Argentines don’t do euro soccer, i meant they join a high quality intense pro program, but do it in their own country respectively.

    Also, I add that if you can’t make it in the MLS, you aren’t going to make it in europe, regardless of the special coaching and quality training facilities.

    I am glad MLS is expanding, even if it hurts the pool of players, it gives more roster spots for younger players. Seeing how MLS doesn’t want to increase their per team roster size.

  20. Carl says:

    Ives I really am confused about something…despite his one goal (which can stil be disputed whether or not he was shoting it or crossing it), exactly what did he do throughout? I did not see much from Duka and in fact thought there were better players on that US team. You can gladly correct me if I am wrong I respect your opinnion but I just do not see him as a good asset in the MLS. Thoughts?

    (SBI- First off, Duka didn’t even start in the first game, and nobody looked good in the third game, but when he did start in the one U.S. win, he looked good and pretty dynamic. Scouts like his combination of attacking dynamism and work rate, coupled with some toughness. The Red Bulls had him train with the first team and one source told me he could have been on the roster already (I know, not saying much on that team, but still). I’m not sold on him being an impact player, but some folks who I respect do like him as a player.)

  21. jim says:

    what about anthony what’s his name from akron?

  22. Brian says:

    Tony Tchani is from Cameroon. Not sure if he has US Citizenship.

    Mwanga is from the Congo.

    Stahl is from Finland.

    Amobi Okugo, was born in Hayward, CA and is from Sacramento. He’s also played for the U17, U18 and U20 US national teams. Not sure if his parents are from a foreign country? Name leads me to believe they are.

    Andre Akpan is from Texas. Dad is from Nigeria but Andre has played for U20 US national team.

    Luis Gil, I believe has a Mexican parent. I highly doubt this kid is going to play for our hated rivals though.

    I believe Jack McInerney has an English father, but again he won’t be playing for England.

    Kwame Watson-Siriboe is from California. Wouldn’t surprise if he had at least one foreign parent. He has played on the US U18 team in the past.

    Ronnie Bouemboue is from the Congo.

    Ofori Sarkodie’s parents are from Ghana, and he has played for the US U17’s.

    Jovan Bubonja is from Serbia.

    Nelson Becerra is from Peru.

    Alan Sanchez is from Miami, but his parents are from Chile.

  23. Brian says:

    Oh and Burnbury was born in Canada, lived in the US for most of his life but has said he will represent our northern neighbors.

  24. alexandria says:

    I agree, its a lot for American kids, hell you don’t see any English Youngsters leaving the island even when they get cut from their prem youth contracts the majority just play in the championship, or league one they don’t even try another country so yeah I think the best thing for our young players is to learn the tactics here, where to be and how to move with and without the ball, and that comes with game time, all the south americans who have moved overseas were the best players on their teams in their country, they played regularly thats how they developed, not because they trained with the first team at some high profiled club. I think next year the fifa law goes into effect anyway that you have to be 18 to transfer to a club outside your country, which should help MLS, even if its just a bit like the you have to be 19 or play one year in the NCAA like the nba.

  25. S06 says:

    Jack Mac’s parents are American.

  26. Pilionius says:

    Your Teal description implies he hasn’t signed with the league, though your introduction says he does.

    Something worth mentioning about Stahl: He is an oldie. Will be 25 in May. Probably not going to develop much more.

    Of the college players, the only ones who excite me are Opara, Okugo and Sarkodie.

    (SBI-The second part of the Bunbury description was from last week’s Big Board. He has signed with MLS.)

  27. Frank from sf says:

    actually a lot of argentinians & brazilians DO go to europe @ a young age. messi went he was 13. fact is if you want to succeed best @ what you do there’s nothing wrony w/ trying it, if not mls will always be here to fall back on.

  28. Clayton says:

    Good luck NCAA youth. I’d love to see Corben Bone come home and wear the hoops of FC Dallas. Good Luck, man.

  29. Brian says:

    Excuse me then. I thought I remember seeing somewhere his Dad was English. Thanks for correcting me.

  30. CrispyST3 says:

    There were also rumors that he was being looked at by Madrid and a few other top clubs, but again


  31. ahm says:

    appreciate all the info, thanks

  32. Jordan says:

    Charlie Davies finally updated his twitter today wishing everyone a happy holiday and that he is walking again and rehab is going well. Made my day!

  33. wilyboy says:

    I don’t know if US fans will obsess about anything more than how well Charlie Davies can walk around his living room this christmas.

    Not judging, I promise. I’m there too, trust me.

  34. Lorenzo says:

    Messi is a bad example.
    He had
    a) 5 years with Newell Boys
    b) Relatives in Catalonia
    c) spoke spanish already
    d) Riverplate couldn’t pay for his medical needs

    A lot easier for Spanish speakers to go to Spain/Italy where language is similar. Brazilians can make a bit of an easier transition to their as it is still mostly Romance language and syntax is similar. They can also (and often) can go to Portugal. Also many South Americans have Spanish/Italian/Portuguese roots (or like Messi Italian roots).

    Still, most South Americans head over after some sort of club experience. even if it is a couple of years of a pro’s youth club.

    This is why I said going to England would be more agreeable if my family went.

    Of course Torres/Orozco to FMF, Gabe Ferrari to Italy, those things can happen but for a very cemented American family like mine (where italian is spoken by few and the culture is faded) I’d rather see my family go to MLS unless some great offer from England.

  35. Retro says:

    Teal tried to be on the US youth team, but never made it. So, he decided to make the Canadian team. I listened to his interview, he gave the politically correct answer.

  36. south says:

    FC Dallas

    5. Corben Bone
    6. Andre Akpan


  37. south says:

    We have a shot at getting Akpan and/or Bone. Loving this 5 & 6 pick.

    I don’t think Cunningham is necessarily entering his best years, and sometimes his play is very frustrating (he’s not very intelligent on the pitch).

    I think Akpan could step in and contribute big playing up top on his own with all the support flying in.

    Akpan’s fast, FC Dallas is fast, hope we get them both Bone and Akpan, would make my way out to PHP to watch more games.

  38. south says:

    I don’t see any of them going to SA. Opara is the best bet, but you have a well established young CB in Gonzalez that is more likely.

    Akpan is a fast gifted forward, but I think Findley (similar player) is more likely to go to SA.

    I personally think Bone will have a big future with the USMNT, but not this summer.

    The only way I see a draft prospect going to SA is an exceptionally talented LB, seems a position that has not been fully cemented as of yet.

    Again, I could see Omar Gonzalez making the trip to SA, we’ll see how he does in Jan.

  39. south says:


    The left back, I think he will go next year, a SO. if I remember right. I think his brother is the above from Indiana. Would be a shame to see Akron lose 3 players, it’s important they keep going to the NCAA finals.

    Praising the Akron coach for staying, if he can keep developing players at this rate then the college game is in good hands.

  40. south says:


  41. timothy says:

    Yeah, as if Dilly Duka wasn’t bad enough, we’ve now got a Bright Dike…

  42. Andy Smith says:

    Brian Ownby should be on this list.

  43. Andy Smith says:

    Brian Ownby should be on this list.

  44. Carl says:

    I know he didn’t start the first game, in fact he was benched behind a 91? Does that not mean something? Does that not mean that the manager believed that powers trained better? There was pplenty of time leading up to game 1 to make a significant dision on who would start? Ives not attacking you, ive noticed you seem to always et defensive? People can have opinions outside of yours its ok!

  45. Jonesta says:

    Gil is too young to move abroad without EU passport under current regulations. He can move to Arsenal when he turns 18 whihc is not for two more years. There was interest from Arsenal, Madrid, and some other big club that escapes me now. MLS is Gil’s best bet at high quality training until he turns 18 at which point he may move abroad.

  46. Sonicdeathmonkey says:

    Keep in mind who the manager was. Rongen is an idiot.

  47. afrim says:

    dallas has 2 picks in the top 5 (4 and 5)…i doubt they’re going to hold on to both

  48. madmax says:

    Thanks, for the review. I was guessing that 5 or 6 of top ten may be foreign or dual. Sure hope Rongen doesn’t bad mouth any of them.

  49. Brian says:

    I bet they will. Just like Bruce is trying to recreate the 2002/2006 World Cup team, FC Dallas is trying to become the US U20 team.

  50. Alex says:

    sorry to change the subject…but did anyone notice on the red bull webcam? Looks like some fans have a message for the

  51. J mann says:

    That is hilarious!


  52. Justin O says:

    Where’s Two-Boys?

  53. Jerome says:

    Watch out for Collen Warner from Portland University. an athletic playmaking midfielder who has great skill and awareness, who can also tackle as a DM……

    Im suprised hes not more talked about.

    (SBI-He’s on the radar and will actually be in the first SBI Mock Draft.)

  54. Brian says:

    Lol does it say F**kin Awesome?

  55. jmadsen says:

    Please tell me “BRIGHT DIKE” was just slipped in as a joke…What were his parents thinking?

  56. Sgc says:

    Bad news bro. Philly’s got first.

  57. Sgc says:

    I feel so sad for that kid. But I guess it’s like Johnny Cash’s “boy named Sue.” Made him tough.

  58. El Michael says:

    Tchani is in the US on a permanent visa. His mother lives in Maryland but he wanted to play organize soccer so he moved to hampton Va and his highschool coach became his legal guardian.

    He comes across as being very americanized…I am sure if he becomes a big time player we will be in touch with him in regards to becoming a US citizen

  59. Brian says:

    Good to know. Cameroon is fairly good team so hopefully the pressure to make a decision quickly won’t be as much, like in the case of Bakary Soumare who actually wanted to play for the US but decided to play for his native Mali because he wouldn’t be eligible to play with the US until at least 2010.

  60. alex says:

    Well i think a club like Barca might disagree with you.

    They have about 4 or 5 players they regularly start who are under 5’9. And you don’t even need to include messi (who’s about as wide as a house) in that equation.

    Technique counts for a lot more than the development system is accounting for at this point.

  61. Joamiq says:

    Yeah… and according to Ives, they prefer Bunbury.

  62. jo says:

    I’d like to see you tell him that…The man’s (notice I didn’t say kid) a beast!!