2009 MLS SUPERDRAFT MOCK DRAFT

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The combine starts today and the coaches will probably spend more time talking to each other than watching the players. This is a great time for coaches to meet, watch potential draftees, and discuss trades. So here is my first shot at a mock draft for this years class.

These mock drafts are fun, but it is hard gauge what a team will actually do. I will try to do a few of these as the combine progresses. Some players might raise or drop their stock depending on their performance over the next few days. Also, trades will change the draft order and who is available.

The forward crop has been weakened by the loss of Marcus Tracy to Danish side Aalborg. Grella will follow Tracy to Europe as well. The draft class is still strong and with the exception of Sam Cronin, should be led mostly be underclassmen.

I’ve decided to do a two round mock draft, only because the Rapids have no first round picks and their first pick won’t come till the second round. The Rapids currently hold the 20th, 37th, 47th, and 59th overall pick. Sounds like a bummer for the Rapids but many MLS standouts have been picked in the later rounds.

My prediction is that there will be a ton of trades in this draft. DC United and Toronto both hold high first round picks. Mo Johnston is big on wheeling and dealing and I see him trading away at least one of Toronto’s spots. Seattle is in need of veteran help and there are plenty of teams willing too off load players to get a high draft position in this year’s draft. Among them are the Rapids who may offload a few players to get a first round pick.

Here is a quick breakdown of what every team needs:

Chicago:

They need a forward and attacking mid to replace the aging Brian McBride and Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Marco Pappa and Patrick Nyarko look to step in but they need depth. Help at right mid to get Rolfe closer to the goal and Thorrington more central. They will need a defender to replace Conde if he leaves.

Chivas USA:

They need a forward to replace the aging Ante Razov and injury prone Eskandarian. If Kljestan leaves they will need a new creative mid. Panchito Mendoza is gone so they will need a left sided player. Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy needs a steady back up.

Colorado:

Need someone to partner and back up for Conor Casey. Need depth in the midfield and one more solid defender. The Goalie situation is a toss up, but they might want to draft one if neither Burpo nor Bouna shape up.

Columbus:

They need one more good forward and few young defenders to replace Hejduk and Padula, both over 30.

D.C. United:

They need a center back and left back after the Gonzalo’s didn’t pan out. Crayton needs a back up and eventual replacement in goal.

FC Dallas:

Cooper is staying, but Cunningham isn’t consistent. Dallas needs another option up top. They need a left mid and left back that can play in a 4-4-2. They need a center back replacement for Davino who returned to Mexico.

Kansas City:

They have a ton of forwards: Claudio Lopez, Davy Arnaud, Herculez Gomez, Adam Cristman, Josh Wolff, and Abe Thompson, but they don’t have anyone in the midfield or flanks to provide service.

Houston:

Houston lost Nate Jaqua in the expansion draft and traded away De Rosario, so they need some attacking players. They need a back up for Brian Mullen on the right flank. If Bobby Boswell leaves they’ll need a new center back along with a speedy right back to push Mulrooney back into the midfield.

LA Galaxy:

With the exception of right mid and one center back spot the Galaxy needs everything. If Donovan leaves they’ll need to get a good second striker. First priority will likely be securing the back line, then a solid holding mid.

New England:

They need a replacement for Khano Smith in the left mid and a replacement for the injury prone Steve Ralston in the attacking mid role. Top priority will be filling the gap left by Michael Parkhurst in the back.

New York:

They need a partner for Angel, a left mid, and a holding center mid. The possible departure of Van den Bergh will leave a gap on the left side of the field. They need someone to stabilize the backline and possibly a goalkeeper.

Real Salt Lake:

We’ll see if Jason Kreis will keep the faith in Fabian Espindola, Robbie Findley and Yura Movsisyan, or if he will look for a game breaking forward.

San Jose:

They need a 10-15 goals a season striker and center midfield option to back up the aging Francisco Lima and relieve Ramiro Corrales. They might also look to acquire a fast center back to partner up with Nick Garcia.

Seattle:

With just 15 players on the roster they really need a little bit of everything. But here are their priorities. Good striker, likely to trade for one. The midfield is pretty stacked but they might need another flank option and some depth. They need a solid center back and true outside backs. James Riley, Tyson Wahl, and Jeff Parke are all more suited to playing centrally, but none provide the leadership the young team needs.

Toronto FC:

This all depends on where De Rosario plays. If they move him up top he will partner well with Chad Barrett and Danny Dichio, both are physical target strikers. If not they will look to acquire one in the draft or trade their No. 2 and/or No. 4 spot to get a veteran.

First Round:

1. Seattle Sounders: Steve Zakuani, Forward

2. Toronto FC: Omar Gonzalez, Central Defender

3. Los Angeles Galaxy: Sam Cronin, Holding Center Midfielder

4. Toronto FC: Rodney Wallace, Defender

5. FC Dallas: Jeremy Hall, Left Mid

6. DC United: Kevin Alston, Right Defender

7. DC United: Stefan Frei, Goalkeeper

8. Kansas City Wizards: Brad Ring, Center Midfielder

9. Chivas USA: Baggio Husidic, Creative Center Mid

10. New England: Yohance Marshall, Center Back

11. FC Dallas: Calum Angus, Defender

12. Real Salt Lake: Peri Marosevic, Forward

13. Toronto FC: O’Brian White, Forward

14. NYRB: Lyle Adams, Defender

15. New England: Anderi Gustamov, Creative Center Mid

Second Round:

16. Seattle Sounders: Michael Holody, Defender

17. San Jose: Chris Pontious, Forward

18. FC Dallas: Chris Clements, Defender

19. Chivas USA: Danny Cruz, Forward/Outside Mid

20. Colorado Rapids: Graham Zusi, Defensive Center Mid

21. DC United: Doug Demartin, Forward

22. Kansas City: Jordan Seabrook, Forward

23. Kansas City: Kyle Patterson, Outside Mid/Forward

24. New England: Poitr Nowak, Midfielder

25. New England: Graciano Brito, Forward

26. DC United: Jibe Ogunbiyi, Defender

27. FC Dallas: Quincy Amarikwa, Forward

28. Chicago Fire: Brad Rusin, Defender

29. NYRB: Zack Simmons, Goalkeeper

30. Columbus Crew: Brian Shriver, Forward

2009 MLS SUPERDRAFT PART 2 OF PART 2: TOP SENIORS

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Here is the list of the top Seniors in this years draft.  The combine is this weekend and these are the players the scouts are looking at closely.

Top Forwards:

1. Marcus Tracy, Wake Forest – Some believe that Tracy is the best forward to come out of the college game in a long time. Tracy stands 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds and has tremendous pace and work ethic. This season he used his superior athleticism and powerful shot to score 13 goals and provide 10 assists. He has been criticized for having an ugly first touch. Could also have a future as an outside mid in MLS.

2008 Awards: 1st team CSN AA; 1st team NSCAA AA; 1st team ACC; Stats: 24/21

2. Mike Grella, Duke – Grella is a highly coveted striker. He’s scored 41 goals in his career and provided 27 assists. He is a talented player who can create his own space. A former U.S. U-18 and U-20 member, Grella might be eligible for a European Union passport through his Italian-born parents, which makes him a threat to bypass MLS and head overseas to play. He is ready for the professional game.

2008 Awards: 1st team CSN AA; 1st team NSCAA AA; 1st team ACC;

3. Chris Pontius, California Santa Barbara – Pontious is a highly versatile player. He has played as a midfielder, defender, and forward through his career. He has the size and skill to play anywhere on the pitch but is likely to play up top or on the left wing. He scored 14 goals in 2008.

2008 Awards: The 2007 Big West Offensive Player of the Year; 2nd team CSN AA; 3rd team NSCAA AA; 1st team Big West
2008 Stats: 22/22 GP/GS, 14 G, 4 A, 114 SH, .386 SOG%

Other Forwards to Watch:

Quincy Amarikwa, California Davis;O’Brian White, Connecticut; Graciano Brito, Quinnipiac; Doug DeMartin, Michigan State; Jordan Seabrook, South Florida

Top Midfielders:

1. Sam Cronin, Wake Forest – Cronin is a smart player. He played mostly as a deep lying mid but assumed more of an attacking mid role later in his career. He is very skillful and has excellent vision. He will need to get tougher to play holding mid in MLS but he has all the tools to be a successful pro. He is probably the best midfielder in the draft.

2008 Awards: 1st team CSN AA; 1st team NSCAA AA; 1st team ACC
2008 Stats: 24/24 GP/GS, 10 G, 4 A, 37 SH, .405 SOG%

2. Brad Ring, Indiana – Ring is calm destroyer type of player. His biggest strength is his ability to break up plays and start the transition. He is strong in the air and is capable of finding the back of the net. He’s also a former U.S. U-20. He has all the tools to be a professional and, like Cronin, should go high in the draft.

2008 Awards: 3rd team CSN AA; 3rd team NSCAA AA; 1st team Big 10
2008 Stats: 17/17 GP/GS, 1 G, 1 A, 51 SH, .294 S%

3. Andrei Gotsmanov, Creighton — Gotsmanov is the best pure attacking talent on the midfielder board at this stage, yet questions have been raised about his pace and athleticism. However, at 6-foot-1 he has the size to play in the modern professional midfield.

2008 Awards: 1st team CSN AA; 1st team NSCAA AA; 1st team MVC; Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year
2008 Stats: 18/18 GP/GS, 10 G, 4 A, 46 SH, .457 SOG%

Other Midfielders to Watch:

Michael Lahoud, Wake Forest; Kyle Patterson, St Louis; Piotr Nowak, Oakland; Akeem Priestly, Connecticut; Danny Irizarry, Ohio State

Top Defenders:

1. Yohance Marshall, South Florida – Big, strong, and quick. Marshall has a strong reputation as a leader and has played for the Trinidad and Tobago U-17s, U-20s and U-21s. Marshall has the skill to occassionally attack out of the back. His defensive organization, tackling, and strength in the air are excellent. Marshall is going to be successful in the pro game and is probably the best defender in the nation.

2008 Awards: 1st team CSN AA; 3rd team NSCAA AA; 1st team Big East
2008 Stats: 23 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 7 SH, .429 SOG%

2. Michael Holody, Michigan — The 6-3 Holody is only the second All-American in the Wolverine program’s short history. Holody leaves Michigan as the program’s all-time leader in minutes played and his nine goals rank him in the top 10 on its scoring list. A strong two-way player in the college game, it will need to be seen if that offense translates to MLS. In addition to his two All-Big 10 nods, Holoday was named to the 2008 PDL Team of the Year for his play for the Michigan Bucks

2008 Awards: 3rd team NSCAA AA; 1st team Big 10;
2008 Stats: 22/22 GP/GS, 2 G, 1 A, 35 SH, .514 S%;

3. Calum Angus, St Louis — Angus is a four-year starter and the vocal defensive leader for the Billiken program. A Brit, the 6-foot Angus is a two-time All-American and was the 2007 Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year. He led the St. Louis defense to a 0.82 team goals-against average and 10 shutouts this year. A former outside back who has also played centrally, Angus does have the speed to play multiple spots in the back line. He’s graduating early this winter in preparation for a professional soccer career. He has been criticized for being a whiner and one journalist commented that the will have the “unique distinction of being equally hated by his teammates and opponents.” The only thing that surpasses his talent is his inflated self image.

2008 Awards: 1st team NSCAA AA; 1st team Atlantic 10;
2008 Stats: 16/16 GP/GS, 0 G, 2 A, 10 SH, .300 SOG%;

Other Defenders to Watch:

Chris Clements, Tulsa; Jide Ogunbiyi, Santa Clara; Lyle Adams, Wake Forest; Brad Rusin, UCLA

Top Goalies:

1. Zack Simmons, U Mass – At 6′2″ 185 he was a walk on at U-Mass and is now an A-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Simmons is a 4 year starter for the Minutemen and almost single-handedly led his team to the College Cup in 2007. In 2008 he had a 0.81 GAA and seven shutouts. A terrific shot stopper at 6 foot two, he’s capable of the big save to keep his team in games they should not be.  Simmons is perhaps the most likely to make an immediate impact in MLS.

2008 Awards: College Soccer News 2nd Team, Top Drawer Soccer 2nd Team of the Year, A-10 Defensive Player of the Year, A-10 Student Athlete of the Year, A-10 1st Team
2008 Stats: 21/21 GP/GS, .81 GAA, 18 GA, 84 S, .824 S%

2. Chris Brown, Boston College – The 6′5″ 225 senior is a massive body between the posts. He still has a little bit to learn, but his size has caught the interest of many scouts. Brown did make his first US U23 camp this year. The two time ACC honoree played every game in net for BC the last two years and finished ‘08 with a 0.90 goals-against average.

2008 Awards: ACC 1st Team
2008 Stats: 20/20 GP/GS, .96 GAA, 20 GA, 38 S, .655 S%

3. Evan Bush, Akron – Stands 6′3″ and 185. Bush leaves Akron with career marks in wins with 62 and shutouts with 49.  Bush was Mid-American Conference Newcomer of the year in ‘05, when he ranked third in the nation with a 0.51 GAA, and First Team All-MAC in ‘05, ‘07, and ‘08.  He held the Akron career goals against mark through his first three seasons at 0.65 and it only went lower with his highly impressive 0.46 GAA and 13 shutouts in 2008.

2008 Awards: MAC 1st Team.
2008 Stats: 23/23 GP/GS, .46 GAA, 11 GA, 60 S, .845 S%

Other Goalies to Watch:

Milos Kocic, Loyola (Maryland); Neal Kitson, St John’s; Kevin Guppy, Cal State Northridge; Chay Cain Indiana