By IVES GALARCEP
The MLS Draft is fast approaching and Major League Soccer is already hard at work trying to put together a Generation adidas class that won’t have quite the star power of past groups.
The 2014 Generation adidas class doesn’t have the kind of high-profile attacking prospects of past drafts, and with MLS apparently looking to spend less money on the Generation adidas class in order to have more funds to spend on Homegrown players, we could see some top prospects pass on MLS offers to either stay in school or pursue options overseas.
With that being the case, we could see the 2014 Generation adidas class be the smallest in recent memory. One that does have some quality prospects at a variety of positions, but one lacking highly-regarded forwards of past GA classes.
One player not on the list for now is Indiana freshman sensation Tommy Thompson, who the San Jose Earthquakes have a Homegrown Player claim on. Sources tell SBI that Thompson is expected to return to Indiana for another season, which puts on hold the debate of whether the Earthquakes were actually going to be granted his Homegrown Player rights, or if he was going to be placed in the Generation adidas class. As things stand, it appears as though San Jose failed to make a good enough offer to entice Thompson to leave school early.
Here is a look at the top Generation adidas prospects for the 2014 MLS Draft:
GENERATION ADIDAS TARGETS
1. CHRISTIAN DEAN, California, Centerback
The skilled left-footed centerback is the top prospect in the draft and top Generation adidas target. He’s expected to sign a deal and is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 MLS Draft.
2. LEO STOLZ, UCLA, Central Midfielder
The highly-skilled midfielder saw his stock rise dramatically in the second half of the season. The German-born midfielder isn’t a lock to leave school, and could very well stay in school if MLS doesn’t make a strong offer.
3. SCHILLO TSHUMA, Maryland, Forward
Coming off a disappointing sophomore season, and forgettable showing in the Final Four, but scouts still love him and believe he has more potential than Maryland teammate Patrick Mullins. A safe bet to be a Top Five pick if he leaves school.
4. ANDRE BLAKE, UConn, Goalkeeper
The best goalkeeper in the nation, Blake is a sure-fire first-round pick who is being targeted by several teams who see him as a long-term starting prospect. The Jamaican-born goalkeeper has the tools to be special, but is a few years away from being able to start.
5. A.J. COCHRAN, Wisconsin, Centerback
With Dean already expected to be in the class, Cochran isn’t a lock to secure a GA deal, but from a talent standpoint, Cochrane is arguably the player on this list most capable of helping a team right away. The U.S. Under-20 pool player is a strong centerback with good feet, though he isn’t as athletic as Dean.
6. MARLON HAIRSTON, Louisville, Midfielder
A young central midfielder with good skill and potential, Hairston is physically a few years away from being able to contribute on the next level, but teams love his upside. Considered a good bet to receive a GA offer, he could wind up being the last GA selected when draft time comes.
7. ERIC MILLER, Creighton, Defender
Injuries have plagued Miller’s career, but when healthy the U.S. Under-20 defender is versatile, skilled and steady. Right back seems his best position, but teams might have a look at him in a defensive midfield role. A good bet to be signed to a GA deal and go in the first half of the first round of the 2014 MLS Draft.
8. CYLE LARIN, UConn, Forward
A beast of forward who would be higher on this list if he were expected to leave school. The UConn freshman combines size, strength and skill as a striker and could be the top GA target for the 2015 MLS Draft.
9. DYLAN MARES, Indiana, Midfielder
A good example of a player who probably shouldn’t have transferred, Mares moved from Louisville to Indiana and saw his stock drop as he failed to make the impact expected of him. A long-shot GA option at this point.
10. GIUSEPPE GENTILE, Charlotte, Forward
Some teams rate him, but MLS doesn’t appear close to considering him for a GA offer. A strong senior year should have him be a top-rated senior for the 2015 MLS Draft.
What do you think of this group? Which player would you like to see your team take? Which of these prospects do you see having the best career?
Share your thoughts below.