FOX Soccer Exclusive
2012 MLS Mock Draft: Top two in focus
As the countdown to January's 2012 MLS Draft continues, we are getting a clearer picture of just what the draft class will look like, though there are still some key elements that have yet to be revealed.
The signing of Andrew Wenger and Darren Mattocks, the two highest rated prospects in the draft pool, should lock up the first two spots, with Kelyn Row, Chandler Hoffman and Sam Garza joining them in a small Generation adidas class.
As of Wednesday, North Carolina's Billy Schuler and Enzo Martinez were in negotiations to join the Generation adidas class. However, when MLS announced the signees on Thursday, neither Tar Heel was on the list, increasing the chances they could play outside MLS.
Another factor to consider when trying to project the MLS Draft is the inclusion of international players into the draft pool. MLS has yet to announce any of the foreign player signs that will be placed in the draft, but last season, two foreign players were selected in the first round of the 2011 draft (Victor Estupinan at 14 by Chivas USA and Paulo Cardozo at 16 by Los Angeles).
As things stand, it is tough to see any international prospects cracking the top half of the draft, unless someone has a Joao Plata-like dominating Combine performance.
Here is how we can see the MLS Draft shaking out based on how draft prospects are rated at the moment by scouts and coaches around the league:
FOX SOCCER 2012 MLS MOCK DRAFT - FIRST ROUND
2. Vancouver Whitecaps
Andrew Wenger, Defender/Midfielder, Duke
6'0", 185 pounds, Junior
22 games, 17 goals, 8 assists
With Mattocks looking like a good bet to be Montreal’s pick, the Whitecaps will gladly jump on Wenger, who could slide right into the starting lineup as a centerback. Wenger boasts good technical ability for a central defender, and the versatility to play as a defensive midfielder (and some even think he could be a right back). It’s tough to imagine that Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie, who just left a job coaching the Carolina Railhawks in the NASL, isn’t familiar with Wenger’s quality.
4. Toronto FC
Nick DeLeon, Midfield, Louisville
5'10", 170 pounds, Senior
22 games, 6 goals, 6 assists
TFC has been looking for an attacking midfielder since Dwayne DeRosario left town, and as good as some of the options are here, Toronto will turn to Louisville playmaker DeLeon, considered by many to be the most talented senior in the draft. Boasting an ability to go at defenders as well as create chances for teammates, DeLeon won’t make it too far past this pick.
6. San Jose Earthquakes
Luis Silva, Midfielder, UCSB
5'11", 163 pounds, Senior
22 games, 17 goals, 10 assists
The Earthquakes endured a nightmare 2011 season and head into 2012 with plenty of areas of need. While they can certainly use some help on the left wing, and some forward depth, finding an attacking midfield option is a priority. Frank Yallop can go with Silva or Enzo Martinez, and while some would grab Martinez, Yallop finds it difficult to pass on Silva’s goal-scoring ability from midfield.
8. Portland Timbers
Matt Hedges, Defender, North Carolina
6'4", 185 pounds, Senior
26 games, 6 goals, 1 assist
The Timbers need to get better defensively, and while finding stronger fullback options is a priority, Portland can’t pass on Hedges, the best pure defender in the draft. A skillful centerback who is also dominant in the air, Hedges could battle for playing time right away.
10. Columbus Crew
Chandler Hoffman, Forward, UCLA
6'0", 160 pounds, Junior
24 games, 18 goals, 6 assists
With Peruvian striker Andres Mendoza gone, the Crew will need to revamp their forward position. Hoffman is the kind of finisher who could do very well playing in front of a midfield that includes Eddie Gaven and Dilly Duka.
12. Toronto FC
Hunter Jumper, Defense, Virginia
6'2", 175 pounds, Senior
17 games, 2 goals, 4 assists
Having already landed a skilled midfielder in DeLeon, TFC can look for some defensive depth. After losing left back Danleigh Borman, Toronto could use a replacement, Hunter Jumper is the most technically gifted left back in the pool.
14. Colorado Rapids
Sam Garza, Forward/Midfielder, UCSB
5'11", 160 pounds, Junior
23 games, 8 goals, 4 assists
The Rapids are a team in need of some depth in a variety of spots, and landing a versatile attacking player like Garza could fill multiple needs. He can offer depth at forward, as well as on the wing, which could help make up for the off-season loss of Sanna Nyassi.
16. Sporting Kansas City
Austin Berry, Defender, Louisville
6'2", 180 pounds, Senior
23 games, 1 goal, 2 assists
Sporting can use some defensive depth, and Berry is just the kind of player Peter Vermes likes. Disciplined, strong and intelligent, Berry might be lacking in the quickness department, but he is strong in the air and could challenge for minutes in year one. It should be noted that Vermes isn’t afraid to eschew popular sentiment in favor of drafting players he likes, even if it may seem too early (see C.J. Sapong and Matt Besler), so we could also see a flyer on someone like forward Lucky Mkosana (Dartmouth) or Andy Rose (UCLA).
18. Houston Dynamo
Calum Mallace, Midfielder, Marquette
16 games, 3 goals, 6 assists
The Dynamo have had success with Scottish-born midfielders before and look to duplicate that success here in grabbing Mallace, a highly-regarded two-way central midfielder. There are some questions about him having the engine for the pro game, but Kinnear knows talent and will see the qualities that made Mallace Big East Midfielder of the Year in 2011.
FOX SOCCER 2012 MLS MOCK DRAFT - SECOND ROUND
20. Montreal Impact - Brian Ownby, F, Virginia
21. Vancouver Whitecaps - Kirk Urso, DM, North Carolina
22. New England Revolution - Lucky Mkosena, F, Dartmouth
23. Chicago Fire - Kevan George, DM, Central Florida
24. Chivas USA - Tommy Meyer, CB, Indiana
25. San Jose Earthquakes - Chris Estridge, LB, Indiana
26. Columbus Crew - Greg Jordan, DM, Creighton
27. Portland Timbers - Raymon Gaddis, RB, West Virigina
28. Chicago Fire - Arthur Ivo, AM/LW, SMU
29. Columbus Crew - Miguel Ibarra, AM, UC Irvine
30. Sporting Kansas City - Lance Rozeboom, DM, New Mexico
31. New York Red Bulls - Ryan Meara, GK, Fordham
32. Philadelphia Union - Andrew Duran, CB, Creighton
33. San Jose Earthquakes - Evans Frimpong, LW/F, Delaware
34. Seattle Sounders - Brian Rowe, GK, UCLA
35. Philadelphia Union - Phillip Asewe, DM, Liberty
36. Real Salt Lake - Michael Green, RW, New Mexico
37. Houston Dynamo - Ethan Funlay, F, Creigthon
38. LA Galaxy - Brendan King, W, Notre Dame
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