From College to the Pros - The US soccer ladder

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Post Combine SuperMockDraft

Here it is folks. My co-contributor Emile and I have been poring over the combine write-ups all weekend. Yesterday we sat on GoogleChat for hours to hash out this mock draft. So this isn't just my nuttery...this is the product of two crazy draft nerds (What? Nerd?). Bonji mostly takes the Evens while Emile mostly takes the Odds.

Without further ado....

-First Round-

#1 - Kansas City - Patrick Nyarko: I wouldn't be surprised at all if the top of the draft board ends up being volatile, and players other than Nyarko and Avila go 1 and 2. But Nyarko does seem like the most logical choice for KC, with Sealy and Pore the only true forwards on the roster (and Trujillo as well, apparently, which doesn't change much). Nyarko is not a slam-dunk success, given the difficult jump from college to pros for forwards. but he has bags of skill and a record of amazing goal-scoring consistency at Virginia Tech.

#2 - Dallas - Eric Avila: Dallas has gone for the young, creative type in the past (Ramon Nunez) but now they don't have that type of spark. Buzz is telling people over at 3rd Degree that the Hoops could come out in a 3-5-2 formation which would require crafty players in the middle with 2007 stand out Toja.

#3 - Salt Lake - Julius James: James being available at #3 would be a boon for the Salt Kings, since defense is a big, big need. If JuJay (tm Emile) can deliver on his promise immediately, Salt Lake can perhaps use the versatile Nathan Sturgis to shore up the wing. UConn coach Ray Reid said James was more athletic than Chris Gbandi was when he was at UConn, and we know he's smart and composed. Sounds like a possible young Eddie Pope to me.

#4 - Los Angeles - Chance Myers: LA has so many salary cap issues it is not even funny. Ok, as a Rapids fan, it is funny. Last season we saw that Becks alone does not a team make. Myers should be known in LA circles since he attended UCLA. His GA status means LA can get a solid player without salary cap impact. LA needs help defensively and here it is.

#5 - Colorado - Tony Beltran: Beltran is a bit of a mystery in the draftosphere after sitting out of the combine with an injury. But whispers are saying not to sleep on him, and that he could end up being the surprise of this draft. Colorado's biggest need is not defense, but the versatile Beltran projects to right back or defensive or right midfield, and the Rapids midfield is less than ideal at this point.

#6 - Columbus - Pat Phelan: Columbus is king of the young, inexperienced roster. Phelan is the type of player who can step in and stabilize with his defensive skills. He can play in the midfield or the back line and Sigi will need someone like him to keep his keeper safe from harm.

#7 - Chicago - Ciaran O'Brien: Personally, I rate O'Brien above Avila, since he came in and outperformed Avila in just his first year with UCSB. They're both a little small, but Avila seems to be the overwhelming pundits' favorite for some reason. O'Brien plays centrally, but has experience on the left, and is (I'm fairly sure) right-footed. The Fire has had a long-term hole on the right side of midfield, so O'Brien could potentially slot in there or find another home in the center. His GA status is a positive for Chicago, putting him above Lowry on our board.

#8 - Dallas - Brek Shea: Shea was one of the most unknown quantities coming into the combine and after it concluded he was a consensus first rounder. Helped by GA status and a great work rate, this kid should be able to hold down a starting MLS spot in a couple years. With good coaching and continued hard work he could make the US national team some day. I got to see him running up and down the left flank on the last day of the combine, and he put a decent ball into the box on a long run down the left. MLS teams are always looking for left sided defenders and Shea looks like he could work out at left back or left mid in a 3-5-2.

#9 - Toronto - Andy Iro: Iro has a few things working against him - his signability is unclear, he has a nagging knee problem, and he didn't improve as much as I would have liked after dominating as a freshman at UCSB. That said, the man is 6-6 and athletic. Toronto has plenty of playing time available for a quality center-half, and Iro has the make of a fan favorite and a good name for creative chants and songs.

#10 - Toronto - Peter Lowry: Sure, Toronto has Edu, the #1 pick in 2007...but for how long. Lowry is another skillful midfielder who should be able to fill in when Edu is away with the national team or sold to Europe.

#11 - Kansas City - Sean Franklin: Franklin has been a great prospect for years, but apparently didn't cement his draft status until he wowed people for a day at the combine. Forget that noise - Franklin was outstanding at CSUN for four years, earning youth nat call-ups and dishing assists until a broken wrist sidelined him in 2007. The athletic, attack-minded right back fits a real need on the under-construction KC back-line.

#12 - Chicago - Josh Lambo: Chicago's keeper situation isn't all that great. Why not take a GA kid and let him develop on your reserve team? While I'm sure Lambo isn't ready for prime time, by the time Pickens is sold/leaves and Jon Busch retires he should be...if not sooner.

#13 - New England - Xavier Balc: True, Balc didn't look that good in the College Cup, but he is still a good value pick based on his total Ohio State career. The Revs, when they pick well, take successful college players that slide in the draft, and Balc could be just that type of player. His cultured left-foot will look all the better when compared side-by-side with Khano Smith's, and the Revs will desperately need offensive-minded midfield help if Noonan goes away.

#14 - Salt Lake - Michael Videira: Videira missed the combine with an injury and this probably helped him slip. Some love his skills and say he's ready to start in MLS, others think he's overrated. However, SLC needs help all over and who better then a kid who should be ready to at least come off the bench to contribute in the last ten minutes.

-Second Round-

#15 - San Jose - Ely Allen: Allen brings a resume better than Calen Carr's was when Carr was picked 10th in 2006. The reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year and former U-18 nat improved his output every season at Washington and is the sort of hard-working, versatile talent that San Jose was known for before their relocation.

#16 - New York - Stephen King: King is an iron man midfielder who goes and goes. He didn't miss a college game at Maryland. What a contrast to Reyna. King should benefit from having such a great mentor in Reyna. Hopefully he can continue to develop and keep that iron quality that Reyna is lacking.

#17 - Salt Lake - Roger Espinoza: RSL could probably use more defensive help, but we've addressed their central need and there aren't any good options at wide defender to pick here. Espinoza would be a sensible project, given their lack of quality left-sided players. Espinoza is also a Colorado native who would probably be happy to head back to the mountains.

#18 - New England - Eric Brunner: Sure, Parkhurst is solid but what else do the Revs have going on defense? If they lose Joeseph their team all of a sudden gives up a lot more goals. Brunner should be able to help add depth.

#19 - Dallas - Rob Valentino: Valentino has first-round talent, but is coming off of a serious left-knee injury that robbed him of the 2007 college season. This could be a benefit for already talent-rich Dallas, which needs a long-term center-back replacement for Goodson to understudy under Davino. The Hoops can wait for Valentino to get back to where he once was.

#20 - Columbus - Alex Nimo: Nimo is too small for the pro game. Sure, he has ball skills and offensive awareness but so did Freddy Adu....and I'm not saying Nimo is another Adu. Hopefully Nimo can work the reserve angle for a couple years since his salary won't count against Columbus' cap. He needs to develop physically before playing in MLS.

#21 - Los Angeles - Andrew Jacobson: Jacobson might be a tough signing for MLS, since he has Cal connections in Europe and has already reportedly had overseas training and interest. If MLS does get him, the Galaxy would no doubt be happy with a 6-2 central midfielder who can pass the ball. Just the thing to take some pressure off of their sexy-stars.

#22 - Dallas - Ricardo Pierre-Louis: Pierre-Louis went to a small school playing in the NAIA (or whatever that lower division is). He knows how to score goals and has national team experience for his native Haiti. Another Jean-Phillipe Peguero? Maybe. He did very well at the combine moving him up the board.

#23 - Kansas City - Julian Valentin: Valentin doesn't deserve such harsh criticisms of his game. He admits himself that he isn't the fastest or biggest or most skillful defender, but heart goes a long way in MLS, as does international experience, and only being 20 years old at the time of the draft. A smallish, big-hearted central defender who lead his team to college glory? Sounds a lot like Nick Garcia, doesn't it?

#24 - DC - David Horst: Horst is listed as a 6'-4" defender. That kind of size in MLS can't be ignored. DC lost Bobby B and is about to lose Bryan Arguez. They need depth in the back.

#25 - Kansas City - David Roth: Let's assume that Michael Harrington will be moving full-time to left back after the Wizards traded Jose Burciaga to Colorado. If so, there are openings in the left midfield, and Roth, while undersized, was an extremely productive playmaker at Northwestern and is a Missouri native.

#26 - Chicago - Joe Germanese: Germanese impressed a bunch of people at the combine and I think I saw him use a nifty little move in the box to create a shot for himself. His combine performance helped him move up the board for sure. Chicago can always use another goal scoring threat...I guess that is true for all teams.

#27 - New England - Dominic Cervi: The Cervi hype train has gotten a little crazy lately. Let's make something clear - he had basically one good college season at Tulsa. His 2007 was really outstanding, grabbing a near 80% save percentage on an offensive-minded team. In the three prior years he split time, and was statistically outplayed in two of them by his teammates. That said, goalies develop late, and he's 6-6 and just 21 years old. The Revs have a lot of holes to fill, but this is a nice, potential long-term answer at one position anyway.

#28 - Los Angeles - Michael Zaher: Another UCLA product who can help add depth to a team that is very shallow after the big names. Zaher has a good pedigree having player for the US U-18 team and he had a good senior season on an disappointingly unremarkable team.

-Third Round-

#29 - Los Angeles - Joe Lapira: Someone should draft Lapira, just in case. Los Angeles has a history of making this type of pick, and they have enough picks in this draft to take a flyer and grab Lapira's MLS rights for two years.

#30 - Toronto - Yannick Reyering: The tall German is out of college eligibility and should be able to catch on with a team like Toronto that is looking for help at all positions.

#31 - Dallas - Jon Leathers: The star Furman defender is not just an odd name that should sell loads of jerseys to the crossover MLS/motorcyclist community . Leathers was just called into U-23 camp and had a solid combine, sending him rocketing up people's draft lists. The problem - he's a 5'8 center-back who had just one goal and two assists in four college seasons. He'll probably need to move outside and develop some attacking verve, or get in just the right system. Dallas' possible new three-back defense might suit him well.

#32 - New York - Ryan Cordeiro: I've been boostering UConn's Cordeiro for a while as an underrated commodity in this draft, as a pure left-sided attacking talent. But he fell in our draft anyway. The Red Bulls have the right side locked down pretty well, but there are definitely openings for left-sided prospects, especially with Dave van den Bergh probably not long for MLS.

#33 - DC - Scott Campbell: Campbell is a bit of a mystery for some adventurous team. He came into the ACC like a house on fire in 2005, but didn't come close to matching his offensive production the last two seasons at UNC. DC will need a long-term replacement for Josh Gros, and Campbell might be able to provide similar positional versatility and is only 21.

#34 - Los Angeles - Brian Edwards: LA traded away Joe Cannon to put their backup in the starting spot. It worked for Colorado and Bouna Time when Joe left Denver, LA is hoping the same will happen there. So they need a new reliable back up and Edwards should provide that. There are questions about his long term ability to get a starting job in the league.

#35 - Toronto - Matt Britner: Britner had to overcome a lot of injuries in his college career, and the fifth-year senior from Brown did well to be named Ivy Player of the Year in 2007 ahead of Andre Akpan. It isn't clear how much of an athletic toll the injuries have taken on the Halifax native, but the former Canadian U-20 captain has decent size and is the only Canadian player in the draft worth taking this high.

#36 - Colorado - Shea Salinas: Salinas had a strong senior season and was named to the NSCAA/adidas All-American 3rd team. The athletic midfielder showed well at the combine after running by many defenders almost at will. Another Dane Richards perhaps? Terry Cooke is not getting any younger and the left side of midfield is a gaping hole in the Rapids lineup, if he can run on the left. Sure, there is Colin Clark but he hasn't shown he is a dependable option game in and game out.

#37 - Salt Lake - George Josten: Josten was a terrifically productive college scorer at Gonzaga with 34 career goals, which will no doubt earn some comparisons to Brian Ching. Like Ching, Josten has good size - but sadly unlike Ching, he's not from Hawai'i, creating a potential ESPN talking point crisis. Salt Lake probably has bigger needs at this point, but, in a forward-poor draft, Josten is the best prospect left on this draft board.

#38 - Chicago - Rauwshan McKenzie: The Michigan State man impressed at the combine and probably pulled himself up from the Supplemental Draft. He's athletic and should be able to earn a developmental spot in the Windy City.

#39 - Kansas City - Joe Donoho: Despite not being chosen for the combine, Donoho charts as a definite SuperDraft prospect. The 6-3 sweeper from Bradley is fast and can score (6 goals in 2007), but will have to make a positional change in MLS and prove that his boffo 2007 was not an aberration, as he had been a middling college player up until this fall. The Wizards gutted defense can use some more new developmental blood.

#40 - Chicago - Adrian Chevannes: Another defensive option for Chicago to help solidify the wings. Some think he could make a move to midfield or even outside AM/F. He has serious pace and learned a thing or two in the U-17 residency program.

#41 - New England - Andre Sherard: Sherard may have had a bad combine, but he excelled at UNC as a solid and stable presence in the center of the defense. Unfortunately for him, I doubt that he's his listed 5-10, and he showed no ability or inclination to attack in college. He is probably at best a poor man's Parkhurst, so why not learn from the genuine article?

#42 - Houston - Lukasz Tumicz: This young Polishman flew under the radar on the east coast playing for Rhode Island. However, the forward has experience with the Polish U-15 & U-16 teams and could be the diamond in the rough foreign player MLS teams covet.

-Fourth Round-

#43 - Chivas USA - Kevin Forrest: Forrest had a terrific 2006 season at Washington, scoring 16 goals. But 2007 saw his season end early with a stress fracture in his arch. He's also had problems with plantar fasciitis and a gimpy knee, so his future partly depends on getting his injury problems behind him. Chivas has only one pick in the Superdraft and plenty of needs, and Forrest could yet end up being a nice value pick.

#44 - New York - Matt Allen: New York is another team that needs to look for keeper help with the retirement of Ronald Waterreus. Somehow he missed the initial combine invite list, but was eventually added and played well...he's quality and will be a good second or third option for New York.

#45 - Dallas - Ryan Maduro: The Providence midfielder was pulled out of the MLS combine for reasons that are still not clear. Maduro was a second-round value before this on my board, so unless he was kidnapped by Achilles tendon pirates, he would be a good value for Dallas here. It's likely he holds a Portuguese passport, so expect to see him as a Yank Abroad. Maduro is a two-time all-Big East midfielder who had 12 goals and 16 assists over the last two seasons.

#46 - Los Angeles - Cesar Zambrano: Zambrano fell down the big board after a poor combine performance. However, he showed skill in college and should get selected. LA will certainly be looking for midfield help when Becks is off with the national team or Vagenas is limping around on his walker (ok he isn't that old...but he seems frail sometimes).

#47 - Colorado - Saidi Isaac: The forward from Kenya has shown some athletic skills and great ball control. Should he be able to secure a contract he'll undoubtedly help the Rapids to a third straight reserve league championship.

#48 - Columbus - Kai Kasiguran: Kasiguran helped lead Messiah to the NCAA D3 title in three of his four seasons there, earning D3 Player of the Year in 2007 and the golden ticket to the MLS Combine. Apparently, he didn't blow anyone away there, but the Cleveland-area native was ultra-productive in college and would be a popular hometown pick for the Crew, where he would project as an attacking midfield or forward prospect.

#49 - Colorado - Sherron Manswell: Manswell has good size and ability on the ball. The Rapids may be able to craft him into a useful player with the right amount of time to teach. He is from Trinidad and will count as an international player. But hey, Dwight Yorke was from Trinidad too, right?

#50 - Dallas - Spencer Wadsworth: Wadsworth calls Dallas his home, and is a favorite sleeper after having his 2007 season ruined by a pre-season injury. Before that, the diminutive forward from Duke terrorized the ACC with darting, incisive runs and a massive work-rate.

#51 - Los Angeles - Jamil Roberts: The younger Roberts brother could join the same MLS family as Troy should he earn a contract.

#52 - DC - Ryan Miller: We suspect this draft is going to be all about replacing the Big B in DC. Bobby B took his MLS playboy act to Houston and DC needs to stock up. The more they have in camp to choose from, the more likely they find a defender who can play in MLS. Miller had a solid college career and should be able to hold it least in the reserves.

#53 - Kansas City - Ben Shuleva: The Wizards could use a developmental prospect in the defensive midfield, and Shuleva is a tough-minded destroyer who battled back from a 2006 ACL tear to have a strong 2007 season with SMU.

#54 - Chicago - Ben Nason: The 2003 Big East Rookie Of The Year had a good career on a solid VT team. The midfielder should be able to get a serious look. Maybe Blanco will be asking him 'Que Paso' someday soon.

#55 - New England - Brandon Owens: Owens has good defensive size and ability. He's played with many levels of the US Youth National Team and knows how to play the game. Injuries have derailed his college career somewhat. However, in his senior season he did win all Pac-10 honors, a first at UCLA since 2002.

#56 - Houston - Billy Chiles: I really hope the Towson Tigers keeper makes it in MLS, because imagine Max Bretos yelling 'BILLY CHILES!' every time he stones someone. I can almost taste it. Houston has one keeper and he's been around since before penicillin. Chiles' recent call-up to U-23 camp underscores his qualifications - he's 6-3 and was named CAA keeper of the year in 2007, a conference with a lot of strong goalies.

In case you didn't figure it out. Emile's comments are in italics and Bonji's are not.

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  • from firsthand knowledge andre sherard was not allowed to go forward by his college coach,for fear of getting beat on breakaways,being that he had the speed to catch college players and make good decisions to keep them from scoring.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:26 AM  

  • That's a good point - UNC certainly isn't know for letting their center backs get forward. But it is something Sherard will probably have to prove he can do, unless someone is willing to keep him inside. I think he could end up being a good value for someone, since everybody is dropping him like crazy down their boards. I don't see a whole lot of difference between him and Leathers.

    By Blogger Emile, at 12:14 PM  

  • Sherard has played at UNC for 4years and has obtained numerous awards to include Team MVP for 3 yrs and ALL-ACC for 3 yrs,how can one bad weekend drop him like crazy! There are players who didnot attend the combine who ranks above him.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:58 PM  

  • Who was in goal for Tulsa during their deep 04 NCAA tournament run? Get back to me and let me know.

    By Anonymous Bell slap, at 2:16 PM  

  • Tremendous 2008 MLS Mock Draft. There are many out there who appreciate that you two broke down the entire four rounds.

    Let's check back tomorrow and see how many you had correct.


    By Anonymous SoccerCityFC, at 2:27 PM  

  • Hey, I don't need to look anything up bell slap, I'm a "draft expert".

    I'm not sure about your beef - I have Cervi the number two goalie taken, and in the second round. I just think people went a little overboard on his combine showing. In 2004, he stopped a bunch of PKs, and - how's this for bonus knowledge - one of team's other goalies that year was none other than USL vet Terry Boss.

    Cervi was terrible in 2006 no matter how you look at it. Look it up.

    By Blogger Emile, at 3:13 PM  

  • The Internet is available to everyone ...look up your own questions. :)

    By Blogger Bonji, at 3:42 PM  

  • Well "draft expert," I was merely pointing out that your inference about 1 good year was inaccurate. But, easy there turbo.

    I don't need the internet to look up the answer:
    1. I knew you would answer it for me.
    2. It's a rhetorical question. You do know what rhetoric is don't you?

    By Anonymous mushroom stamp, at 5:27 PM  

  • DC is set to sign Peralta and Martinez, two CBs with size and skill. After that, we have MacTavish and Vanney om the bench. Why on earth would we be looking to draft someone to replace Boswell? If we are drafting on need, we will go for a winger (King, Salinas, or Germanese) or a promising forward (Reyering).

    By Blogger jason, at 6:05 PM  

  • Hey mushroom slap, my response was intended to be tongue in cheek (see that's why I put draft expert in quotation marks.....ah never mind. Phew, blogging is hard).

    Jason - you may be right, and I have to admit that I didn't realize that DC was looking at two different Gonzalos - that's confusing. Anyway, I doubt they'll sign two international center backs, but even if they do, Horst would be a great value pick at DC's spot. I rate him higher than Brunner as a pure defender. We had King gone already, and I (not speaking for bonji) have Horst a much better prospect than Germanese or Salinas. Reyering might be a good pick if they know he'll sign.


    By Blogger Emile, at 7:16 AM  

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