Can LA convince Gyasi Zardes to sign a HGP deal this year? (CSU Bakersfield Athletics – Mark Nessia)

Everyone loves the big boards that come out this time of the year. The MLS SuperDraft is less than two months away and while there is still a MLS Cup to be played this weekend, many teams are gearing up for the College Cup finals to take place the following week.

I fully intended to write this on Tuesday but got wrapped up in the expansion talk that it got pushed to today. Yesterday was a total wash for me as well due to the day job so here we go.

I felt like diving into the other side of the MLS SuperDraft, with a list of players that likely won’t be drafted at all. That is due to their ties with MLS clubs as potential home grown players. I think this will be the first years were we will see more HGPs signed outside of the draft than ever before. We’ve had a couple in the last two seasons but this year there will be more.

For more college soccer coverage I suggest heading over to TopDrawerSoccer.com (Travis Clark and JR Eskilson do fantastic work) or to the MLS on Campus section of MLS’s website (my good pal Daniel Robertson does that for MLS). Both know their stuff in regards to the college game and the draft.

So here is my (mini) Big Board of HGPs that could be in the MLS game next year. The other big board (if I even do one – Ha!) will come in a couple weeks. 

1. Gyasi Zardes (CSU Bakersfield, Junior, Forward) – It was a shame that CSUB didn’t reach the college cup tournament. Zardes was a monster this year and could have offers from overseas instead of taking his game to LA to play with the Galaxy. He ended his junior season with 15 goals and nine assists, carrying the Roadrunners. Reports say he turned down a HGP offer from LA last year and one has to wonder if he’d do it again this year if they came calling.

2. London Woodberry (Maryland, Senior, Defender) – The FC Dallas product has had a strong final season with the Terps. Woodberry has had a chance to go to the pro level early but decided to stick around for a chance at a College Cup trophy. So far that seems to be paying off with Maryland still in the tournament. Woodberry is big, athletic and will provide Dallas depth both at center back and at full back.

3. Scott Caldwell (Akron, Senior, Midfielder) – The New England Revolution product saw his senior season come to a crashing end in the College Cup with a loss to Creighton last week. Caldwell has done very well in Caleb Porter’s system as an attacking midfielder. New England is in need of some attacking flare and Caldwell will certainly give it to them.

4. DeAndre Yedlin (Akron, Sophomore, Defender) – One thing the Seattle Sounders have been openly admitting since their defeat in the Western Conference finals was their lack of speed at the full back position. Yedlin may be younger than most on this board but he is certainly ready for a move up should Sigi Schmid feel he needs him for 2013. I think with Porter gone in Akron, Yedlin (and many others) may make an exodus to MLS.

5. Will Trapp (Akron, Sophomore, Midfielder) – Just like Yedlin, Trapp gets on the board simply due to Porter leaving Akron. Trapp probably could use another season in the college game but given the amount of contracts the Columbus Crew just dumped, I have a feeling he’ll get a HGP deal as a result of it.

6. Ian Christianson (Georgetown, Senior, Midfielder) – The holding-midfielder has been absolutely stellar this season for the Hoyas. Chicago will be lucky to have a player of his caliber come up in the ranks, especially given the fact that they don’t have a ton of picks in this year’s draft (just one first rounder). He’s got good ball skills and would likely be a first rounder anyways in this draft.

7. Chad Barson (Akron, Senior, Defender) – The Akron factory or Columbus West as I sometimes call it, produced a slew of Crew players this year. Barson should be one of them as well. Barson started 93 games over four seasons with the Zips and was part of the US U-20 national team as well. Given the Crew’s recent contract dumps, Barson seems like a lock to get a HGP deal.

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Outside chances at a HGP deal this winter

8. Sean Okoli (Wake Forest, Sophomore, Forward) – The Seattle product lead the Demon Deacons in scoring this season with 11 goals. I think he’s a year away from really being a good product for Seattle to gobble up but I also could see this as a off season of change in the Pacific Northwest. Okoli could be a nice pickup if that happens.

9. Travis Pittman (West Virginia, Senior, Defender) – D.C. United had three senior academy players at WVU this year but Pittman was always the one that stood out the most to me.

10. Matt Wiet (UCLA, Senior, Defender) – Most believe Barson has beat out Wiet for a HGP spot since they both play the same position in the defense. I tend to agree with that thought as well but don’t sleep on the Crew making some noise this winter and surprising folks by signing Wiet as well. It seems unlikely but it also doesn’t seem too crazy at the same time.

11. Dillon Serna (Akron, Freshman, Midfielder) – The Colorado Rapids had a rough first year under Oscar Pareja but Serna could be a nice boost to sign this winter given the amount of turnover their roster has already seen this month. Serna figures to be another guy worth watching leave Akron as well. Not a bad rookie season too with two goals and eight assists. He’ll fit into Pareja’s system nicely too.

12. Harrison Shipp (Notre Dame, Junior, Midfielder) – He was a big factor in the Irish’s run this year as he scores six goals and added in six assists. It will be interesting to see if the Chicago Fire go for him now or if they see if he is wanting to stick around South Bend for one more season to get to the College Cup.