For the last few months I’ve been working on a list of players that could be available for next month’s 2012 MLS SuperDraft. Naturally a lot can and will happen between today’s post and the draft. Players could stay in school, go elsewhere in the soccer world or just decide to hang their boots up for good.
First and foremost, I have to say nothing is official here. None of the players below are officially leaving their schools or have signed with MLS. This is all potential and based on what some scouts, clubs and others around the country have told me, along with my personal opinion on each player. I’ll admit I haven’t seen everyone on my list below, and I’ve seen some more than others. It happens when you have a country as big as ours with so many schools playing at the same time.
I’ve already talked about a few players before this season in previews, reviews and other college items. Most of the players I’ve talked about already will be on this list today along with a potential projection for each. Again, a lot can change though between now and the draft.
And finally, for those who have asked, my first Mock Draft will probably come out in a couple weeks. I really wanted to give a week or so after the College Cup to round up a few things before I began doing a mock draft.
2012 MLS SuperDraft Watch (*=possible GA):
- Kelyn Rowe (UCLA)*- Currently my top rated player in this draft pool. Rowe has helped guide UCLA to the Final Four of the College Cup this season. His vision and creativity are high on everyone’s list and he will certainly be a Generation adidas player. Projection: Top three pick
- Darren Mattocks (Akron)*- He nearly signed with MLS last year but the extra season in college really helped him out in my mind. He’ll be the top striker on the draft board this season with 21 goals this year for the Zips. A lock for a GA contract. Projection: Top three pick
- Andrew Wenger (Duke)* - An extremely versatile player. Wenger can play center back or center midfield but will likely end up being a defensive midfielder in MLS. He should rival Rowe for the top pick for most people. Biggest question will be if he leaves school early or not. Projection: Top three pick
- Enzo Martinez (UNC)* - The junior playmaker certainly has the tools to be a quality player in MLS. He should be in line for a GA slot if he leaves school early. I’ve read there could be some immigration issues that could complicate things but assuming it gets sorted out he will be a good draft choice. Projection: Top ten pick
- Billy Schuler (UNC)* - A quality goal scorer that could rival Mattocks for the top striker in this draft. He’s struggled with injuries in the past but I’d expect that if UNC ends up winning the College Cup this weekend, he’ll leave early with a few others. Projection: Top ten pick
- Luis Silva (UCSB) - He was on my lists last year as a potential target. Like Mattocks, another year at school really helped him out. He should be one of the first seniors selected next month, and one that MLS has to be trying to sign as we speak. Projection: Top ten pick
- Brian Span (Virginia)* - Still a tad bit raw but someone that could definitely turn into a good prospect down the road for a team. Span is a flank player with amazing speed that has plenty of clubs talking. I think he could benefit from another year in school but teams always love finding gems that can play on the wings in the draft like this. He has good potential to be a GA player. Projection: Top ten pick
- Chandler Hoffman (UCLA)* - His 18 goals this season quickly caught the attention of those around the country. By getting UCLA in a position to get to the College Cup finals, more teams have been able to see what this kid is about. I think he ends up being one of the last GA signings in this class. Projection: Top ten pick
- Matthew Hedges (UNC) - One of the most MLS-ready defenders in the country at the moment. His size and skill remind me a bit of AJ Soares from last year’s draft. Projection: Top ten pick
- Tyler Polak (Creighton)* - This one really depends on the Blue Jays winning the national title. I think he stays if they don’t but he could easily bolt and be a GA player in a heart-beat if they do win it. He’s easily one of the top fullbacks in the country and a player that would be easily in the discussion for a high pick if he signs but there is no guarantee that he signs this year. Projection: Top ten pick.
- Casey Townsend (Maryland) - Here’s a guy we’ve been talking about for two years. He was a standout striker as a freshmen on the 2008 national title team and has stayed in the spotlight ever since. Like Silva, he’s easily on the top of the list of seniors the league will be pursuing to sign before the draft. Projection: First rounder
- Nick DeLeon (Louisville) - The central midfielder who nearly got claimed as a Home Grown by Real Salt Lake should have plenty of clubs excited with his technical ability. Projection: First rounder
- Tony Cascio (UCONN) - Another quality winger who nearly went the same way as DeLeon to RSL. I’ve heard reports that he is on the short list of seniors that the league is trying to sign before the draft. Projection: First rounder
- Sam Garza (UCSB)* - He’s impressed the scouts in a big way this season. His ability to go to goal and his finishing ability have people talking. He’s a GA target and one that could climb up the boards with a strong Combine. Projection: First rounder
- Colin Rolfe (Louisville) - A down year for him and for the Cardinals really. He still is loved by the scouts and a promising Combine should keep him in the discussion for a first round selection. I think he’d be higher had the Cardinals advanced to the Final Four this past weekend but it will all come down to if the league can sign him before someone in Europe snags him. Projection: First rounder
- Dom Dwyer (USF)* - A fringe GA player in my mind (its always a numbers game for the amount of GA contracts). His speed and strength could make him an impact player in MLS. He scored 16 goals for the Bulls this season. Projection: A mid-to-late first rounder
- Dillion Powers (Notre Dame)* - He’s been on the boards before. A guy that would have been a top 10 lock a year ago is now possibly in need of another season in college after a sub-par 2011. His passing ability could still land him in the top ten if he gets a GA contract like some are pushing for but it all depends on if he comes out now or waits until next year to be one of the top seniors in the draft. Projection: Mid-to-late first rounder
- Chris Balis (USF) - The lone keeper in the potential pool and probably the top rated keeper in a very dry keeper pool this year. He’s a big kid in goal and one that could be the next Washington state native to make a name for himself between the pipes. Projection: Mid-to-late first rounder
- Eric Schoenle (WVU)* - A fringe-GA player as well. A lot depends on his size, as he really needs to bulk up to get in the pro game. His technical ability have people raving about him though and he would be easily one of the best defenders in this draft if he came out and got a GA contract. Projection: Late first rounder
- Austin Berry (Louisville) - He was key in the Cardinals run last year but a disappointing 2011 season has his stock a little lower than most had expected. I think a strong Combine and a pre-draft contract could help his cause. Projection: Late first rounder, early second round.
- Raymon Gaddis (WVU) - A very talented fullback. He brings intelligence and toughness to the position. Teams should love his leadership that he brings (three year captain at WVU) and his passing ability is top notch. Projection: Late first rounder, early second round.
- Ethan Finlay (Creighton) - Should be one of the top rated senior players in this draft. A big College Cup for this kid and you’ll easily see his stock rise higher up the boards here. Projection: Late first rounder, early second round.
- Hunter Jumper (Virginia) - Some thing he could go to Europe where he has trained before. This left-back though could easily be a sleeper pick in this draft though if he decides to go the MLS route. Projection: Late first rounder, early second round.
- Brian Ownby (Virginia) – Another name I’ve been talking about on here for a couple seasons. Injuries have hurt this guy but with a solid Combine, I see him showing up somewhere. Projection: Late first round.
Other potential targets: Andrew Jean-Baptiste (UCONN)*, David Opoku (UCSB)*, Robbie Derschang (SMU)*, Taylor Kemp (Maryland)*, John Stertzer (Maryland)*, Ashton Bennet (Costal Carolina)*, Aaron Maund (Notre Dame), Artur Ivo (SMU).