The MLS Combine is set to kickoff at the end of the week. College seniors and select underclassmen will play 3 games in five days to bolster their position in the draft. The combine takes place on Jan. 7 to 11, and the Supedraft is set for Jan. 13.
Here is the Green Army’s mock draft of the first round of the 2011 Superdraft. I’ll post a two round version next week, and finally a three round version before the Superdraft. Enjoy.
1. Vancouver Whitecaps: Darlington Nagbe, F, Akron
Nagbe is arguably the best attacking player in the draft. He’s drawn comparisons to Seattle Sounders midfielder and former Akron player, Steve Zakuani. Except that Nagbe might actually be better. That is good enough reason to pick him at #1. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Whitecaps traded the #1 pick for a player and some allocation money. DC United is a likely candidate to trade for the #1 spot.
2. Portland Timbers: Perry Kitchen, M/D, Akron
Kitchen is a tough midfielder with tons of upside. The defensive midfielder, has college cup and youth national team experience. The Akron freshman kept the national champions organized with his tough tackling and smart passing. Kitchen also has a wicked shot that was on display during the College Cup. The gritty young midfielder would fit right in with Portland’s blue collar philosophy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes at #1.
3. DC United: Zarek Valentin, D, Akron
DC United needs players at every position but I wouldn’t be surprised if the team stepped in for a defender as their top pick. They might trade up to get Perry Kitchen, if not I see them taking Zarek Valentin. Valentin is a smart, tough defender with U20 national team experience. Kofie Sarkodie is another option here, but DC already signed homegrown and Maryland defender Ethan White as a right back.
4. Chivas USA: Omar Salgado, F, US U20
The young forward has the most upside of any player in the draft, but is definitely a project for the future. The Chivas connection might play a role, considering Salgado was a part of the Guadalajara youth system. Salgado is a talented 6’4 striker. He is a member of the US U20 team and has star quality written all over him. At 17, he probably won’t make a big impact this season, but he seems to have unlimited potential.
5. Philadelphia Union: Corey Hertzog , F, Penn State
The Union tried to sign Hertzog as a homegrown player so I would be surprised if they didn’t grab him with their top pick. Hertzog was the top goal scorer in the country in 2010. He has great pace, decent technical skill, and a nose for scoring goals. I can see him producing for the Union this season but he isn’t the answer up top for the Union. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Union traded this spot or took a defensive player.
6. New England Revolution: Stephen McCarthy, M, UNC
The Revs, like many teams in the east, need help at a number of positions. I think Nicol uses their top pick to reinforce the midfield. McCarthy is a big, 6’4, defensive midfielder. His work rate should complement Shalrie Joseph. McCarthy is also very dangerous on set pieces.
7. Houston Dynamo: Zac MacMath, GK, Maryland
The loss of Pat Onstad leaves the club without a franchise goalkeeper. Houston could easily take a forward here, but I think they take a chance on the young and talented MacMath. He could be the face of the club for years to come.
8. Vancouver Whitecaps: Kofi Sarkodie, D, Akron
After snapping up the best attacking player in draft with their #1 pick, the Whitecaps can move on to shore up the backline. Kofi Sarkodie is easily a top 3 talent and the Whitecaps will be on cloud nine if they can grab him at #8. The talented right back is the best attacking right back in the draft. He’s been a consistent member of the US youth national team system and is projected to become a future national team player.
9. Chicago Fire: Will Bruin, F, Indiana
Bruin is easily the best goal scorer in the draft. Chicago lost iconic striker Brian Mcbride and needs to find a suitable replacement. Bruin has the potential to become that player. His 6’2 frame makes him an ideal target forward. His knack for scoring goals could see him develop into a 10-15 goals a season forward.
10. Sporting Kansas City: AJ Soares, D, Cal
Sporting lost Jimmy Conrad in the Re-Entry Draft and will look to fill that void. Cal defender AJ Soares is one of the best defenders in the draft. He is a great passer out of the back, has solid one v one defending skills, and is dangerous on set pieces. The big defender could make an impact right away.
11. Seattle Sounders FC: Michael Farfan, M, UNC
Farfan is probably the best attacking midfielder in the draft. He has excellent vision, above average technical skill, and the ability to score goals. Farfan can play wide or centrally and should provide the depth that Seattle is missing in the midfield.
12. Columbus Crew: Michael Nanchoff , M, Akron
Nanchoff is a dynamic left midfielder. The Ohio native provides great service to the forwards and has a good work rate. Nanchoff is also an attractive pick because his Generation Adidas contract will not count against the salary cap, a major bonus for a team trying to rebuild.
13. New York Red Bulls: Jalil Anibaba, D, UNC
New York still has to resolve some issues on their backline. Anibaba is a big and athletic center back that could partner well with Tim Ream. New York also needs a midfield playmaker but I don’t see them finding that player in the draft.
14. Real Salt Lake: Ashley McInnes, M/F, Tulsa
Real Salt Lake will look to replace striker Robbie Findley. Ashley McInnes has tons of speed and decent technical skill. McInnes could play as a striker or as an attacking midfielder. He is a good passer and keeps possession well.
15. San Jose Earthquakes: Justin Meram, F, Michigan
San Jose is thin at striker and needs someone that can partner Golden Boot Winner Chris Wondolowski. Meram is an exciting forward with excellent ball skill and goal scoring ability. He has good size and good enough speed to hold his own against MLS defenders. His willingness and ability to go at defenders set him apart from the other forwards in the draft. He should be a steal at #15.
16. Los Angeles Galaxy: Bobby Warshaw, M/D, Stanford
The loss of midfielder Dema Kovalenko leaves a void in the midfield. Bobby Warshaw is one of the better defensive mids left in the draft and the Galaxy should pick him up here. Warshaw can play as a central defender or defensive center mid. Warshaw is a very athletic and physical player. He also served as a deep lying playmaker for Stanford because of his good vision and ability to score goals.
17. FC Dallas: Jason Herrick, F, Maryland
FC Dallas lost Jeff Cunningham in the Re-Entry Draft and need some reinforcements at forward. Herrick is one of the better forwards left on the board. Herrick isn’t as prolific as other strikers in the draft, but he does a ton of work that makes him an attractive prospect. He pressures defenders, holds the ball up well, and finds his teammates in scoring position.
18. Colorado Rapids: JT Murray, D, Louisville
The Rapids need depth in the backline and JT Murray is the best left back in the draft. The MLS Cup champions are particularly thin at left back after trading away Danny Earls. JT Murray provides good speed, power, and dribbling ability.
I’ll have a two round mock draft after the combine gets underway. Let me know your thoughts on the first round mock draft.