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By IVES GALARCEP
The 2013 MLS Draft is now less than a week away, and while the MLS Combine could do a lot to impact the ranking of some players, MLS teams have a pretty good sense of which players they like and which positions they think they can address at the draft.
Plenty could, and will change in the eyes of scouts over the course of the next five days at the Combine, but if you were wondering how the MLS Draft would play out without the Combine, we will offer you a glimpse of what that might look like.
Here is SBI’s final pre-Combine MLS Mock Draft (Yes, I know, it’s technically not pre-Combine since it’s posting during the first match, but you get the idea. You can blame the flu that’s been going around for slowing down the works. Look for me to fill this out over the course of the day so check back in tonight):
SBI 2013 MLS Mock Draft (Version 3.0)
(*-Generation adidas player, #International Player)
1- TORONTO FC
*Andrew Farrell, Louisville, Centerback
TFC’s recent acquisition of Gale Agbossoumonde makes it that much more likely they deal the No. 1 overall pick (or the No. 3 pick). Whether TFC keeps the pick or trades it, Farrell is a good bet to the player taken here. He is widely regarded as the best player in the draft. Scouts believe he can step in and start from day one. Athletic and technically-skilled centerback. Interest in Farrell is driving the trade market.. Trading down and securing some allocation money makes the most sense. Whatever Toronto does, the chances are very high that Farrell is the first player off the board.
2- CHIVAS USA
*Mikey Lopez, North Carolina, Central Midfielder
The Goats are in a state of flux and it remains unclear just how prepared they are to handle the draft. If we are to believe Chivas USA’s new head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, the Goats want to emphasize and establish a Mexican influence on their roster. Lopez is both a top three talent, and a Mexican-American. Most teams would probably take Walker Zimmerman first, and you could argue that Zimmerman fits Chivas USA’s on-field needs more, but Lopez fits Chivas USA’s profile better.
3- TORONTO FC
*Walker Zimmerman, Furman, Central Defender
If TFC trades the top pick, Zimmerman is the pick here. Even with the addition of veteran Dan Califf, Toronto FC would be crazy to pass on a talented Generation adidas player like ZImmerman. Now, if Toronto selects Farrell with the No. 1 pick, the club could entertain a trade to move down in the order. Teams interested in Zimmerman and Jason Johnson just might pony up something decent for a chance to move up to this spot.
4- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
*#J.J. Johnson, VCU, Forward (Jamaica)
The Revs could are stacked in midfield, and there aren’t any defenders worth taking at this point, so the best forward on the board makes the most sense. Johnson is a powerful striker who has drawn comparisons to C.J. Sapong. He might be the most pro-ready attacking player in the draft pool. Even with Chad Barrett selected by the Revs in the Re-Entry Draft, the Revs would still be hard-pressed to pass on Johnson. One thing to consider though is New England’s international player situation, which could lead the Revs to consider someone like Eriq Zavaleta instead.
5- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
*Eriq Zavaleta, Indiana, Centerback/forward
The Whitecaps can use a talented young centerback prospect to groom as an eventual replacement for Jay DeMerit and Zavaleta has the tools to be a big-time defender. Most observers familiar with Zavaleta know him as the target forward who scored so many key goals for national champion Indiana, but the general consensus among pro scouts is that Zavaleta’s best position is central defense.
6- COLORADO RAPIDS
*#DeShorn Brown, Central Florida, Forward (Jamaica)
The Rapids acquisition of Edson Buddle might make it easier for the Rapids to go in another direction with this pick, but adding a speed option up top like Brown makes perfect sense for a team that traded away Omar Cummings earlier this off-season. If you’re looking for someone similar to Darren Mattocks in this draft, Brown is that player.
7- FC DALLAS
Dillon Powers, Notre Dame, Midfielder
The retirement of Daniel Hernandez and expected departure of Julian DeGuzman leaves Dallas short on defensive midfield/central midfield options, even with the addition of Peter Luccin. Enter Powers, a skilled two-way midfielder and Dallas native. He isn’t a Generation adidas player, which is something Dallas might want to try and land to help their salary cap situation, but Powers could be a good fit in the Dallas midfielder. Santa Clara forward/winger Erik Hurtado would also be an appealing option for Schellas Hyndman.
8- MONTREAL IMPACT
Erik Hurtado, Santa Clara, Forward/winger
The Impact can use depth at forward, and while they could go in any number of directions with this pick, Montreal will be hard-pressed to pass on a dynamic and versatile attacking player like Hurtado. He boasts good speed, technical quality and is good with both feet. If you are looking for a potential wild card, the Impact could reach for Canadian midfielder and Boston College product Kyle Bekker, though the Impact could probably land him with the 18th pick in the draft.
9- COLUMBUS CREW
Ashton Bennett, Coastal Carolina, Forward (Jamaica)
The Crew could reach for a left back, but if they go for value and a player who could give them something they don’t really have right now, Bennett could be the speed forward Robert Warzycha needs. Columbus is one of the more unpredictable drafting teams in the league, so if you are looking for a real wild card pick on draft day, it could come at this pick.
10- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
Carlos Alvarez, UConn, Attacking Midfielder
The Whitecaps lost something when Davide Chiumiento moved to Europe, and Barry Robson didn’t quite provide it. If Martin Rennie looks for a playmaker in the college ranks, he could do much worse than Alvarez, who has the vision and toughness to make a good transition to MLS.
11- CHICAGO FIRE
Ryan Finley, Notre Dame, Forward
The Fire need some forward depth, and Finley showed in his senior year that he can finish chances when provided with service. He’s mobile, strikes the ball well and doesn’t waste chances.
12- REAL SALT LAKE
*#Kekuta Manneh, Austin Aztecs, Forward (Gambia)
The young forward is a bit of an unknown, but the early reports on Manneh are that he has the tools to potentially be a difference-making forward. If he has a strong Combine he won’t last this long, but if he’s around when RSL picks, look for the Western Conference club to take the young forward.
13- HOUSTON DYNAMO
Blake Smith, New Mexico, Left Midfielder
Why would a team that boasts Brad Davis take a left winger in the first round? It’s simple. Smith is a great value pick and gives the
14- SPORTING KANSAS CITY
John Stertzer, Maryland Central Midfielder
You can never have too many central midfielders, and after losing Roger Espinoza and Julio Cesar, Sporting KC can help add to their depth with the inclusion of Stertzer. More of an attacking midfielder in college, Stertzer could project in a deeper role on the pro level. With a loaded schedule facing Sporting KC in 2013, adding Stertzer to the stable would give Peter Vermes plenty of options in the middle of the field.
15- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Eric Schoenle, West Virginia, Central Defender
The Earthquakes parted ways with Ike Opara, and while they did add a centerback in Ty Harden in the Re-Entry Draft, a highly-skilled centerback like Schoenle would be tough to pass up. San Jose could also consider Tommy Muller.
16- SEATTLE SOUNDERS
Tommy Muller, Georgetown, Central Defender
After dealing Jeff Parke, the Sounders can use some centerback depth and Muller could be the best senior centerback in the draft. He is strong, good on the ball and reads the game well. The Sounders could also turn to left back to fill a need, and Taylor Kemp would make sense as well.
17- D.C. UNITED
Taylor Kemp, Maryland, Left Back
D.C. United can use some defensive depth, at centerback and left back, and with Schoenle and Muller off the board, D.C. can turn to Kemp to help fill the club’s need for left back help. There are a few good left back prospects here, from Kemp to Kory Kindle to Georgetown’s Jimmy Nealis, but we’ll give the nod to Kemp.
18- MONTREAL IMPACT
Kyle Bekker, Boston College, Central Midfielder
19- LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Kory Kindle, CSU-Bakersfield, Left Back
The Galaxy could be tempted to grab a forward, but the recent signing of Gyasi Zardes to a Homegrown Player deal makes that less likely at this pick. That leaves LA with a strong crop of left back options to choose from. Kindle is a speedy fullback who can provide a real attacking threat on the left flank. He might not be as solid defensively as some other left backs, but his attacking qualities make him an intriguing option for the Galaxy. It would also re-unite Kindle with former college teammate Zardes.
20- FC DALLAS
Will Bates, Virginia, Forward
21- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Jimmy Nealis, Georgetown, Left Back
22- NEW YORK RED BULLS
Ian Christianson, Georgetown, Defensive Midfielder
23- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Chris Thomas, Elon, Forward
24- LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Dylan Tucker-Gagnes, Washington, Central Defender
25- COLORADO RAPIDS
Emery Welshman, Oregon State, Forward
26- PHILADELPHIA UNION
Greg Cochrane, Louisville, Left Back
27- MONTREAL IMPACT
Donnie Smith, Charlotte, Left Midfielder
28- COLUMBUS CREW
Anthony Arena, Wake Forest, Central Defender/Left Back
29- PHILADELPHIA UNION
Paulo Del Piccolo, Louisville, Defensive midfielder/Fullback
30- COLORADO RAPIDS
Marc Cintron, Providence, Right winger
31- REAL SALT LAKE
Machael David, UCSB, Defensive Midfielder
32- MONTREAL IMPACT
Uwem Etuk, West Virginia, Left Midfielder
33- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Jose Gomez, Creighton, Attacking Midfielder
34- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Devon Sandoval, New Mexico, Forward
35- SEATTLE SOUNDERS
Don Anding, Northeastern, Forward
36- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Larry Jackson, Goalkeeper, Santa Clara
37- HOUSTON DYNAMO
Paul Wyatt, James Madison, Defensive Midfielder
38- LA GALAXY
Joe Franco, Cal-State Northridge