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2012 MLS Mock Draft: Top two in focus

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Ives Galarcep

Ives Galarcep is a 14-year veteran of the American soccer beat. He created and operates the popular American soccer blog, Soccer By Ives, which was voted Best American Soccer Blog by US Soccer in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Ives was also voted Best Football Writer by SoccerLens in 2010. 
 

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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.

What is Generation adidas?

Generation adidas is the program designed by Major League Soccer and the United States Soccer Federation to encourage players yet to graduate from college to sign with MLS. Often, this acts as a countermeasure to talent leaving for foreign leagues.

Generation adidas players are offered more lucrative contracts that the typical draftee, though their wages do not count against a team's salary cap.

This year, five players have been signed to Generation adidas deals, down significantly from last year's 11.

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

1. Montreal Impact
Darren Mattocks, Forward, Akron
6'0", 185 pounds, Sophomore
22 games, 22 goals, 4 assists

The Impact need quality forwards, and Mattocks is the kind exciting striker prospect who could help Jesse Marsch’s attack. As intriguing as Andrew Wenger is as a prospect, the Impact need strikers more than defensive depth, and Mattocks looks to be the more likely selection for the Impact.

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.

3. New England Revolution
Billy Schuler, Forward/Midfielder, North Carolina
5'11", 170 pounds, Junior
25 games, 16 goals, 5 assists

The Revs have a track record of doing well drafting ACC players, and Schuler could be the next in line. A quick and skillful forward with good technical ability and a nose for goal, Schuler could help provide the type of attacking boost New England badly needs. He has yet to sign with MLS, though, and could wind up playing in Sweden. If Schuler isn’t available, the Revs would have to consider trading down or grabbing Nick DeLeon with an eye toward playing him on the wing.

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.

5. Chivas USA
Kelyn Rowe, Midfielder, UCLA
5'8", 150 pounds, Sophomore
24 games, 6 goals, 10 assists

The Goats are in need of a playmaker, and as much as replacing a forward like Justin Braun is also important, Robin Fraser can’t pass on a playmaker like Rowe. With his LA roots and impressive skill set, Rowe could make the Goats forget passing up on Benny Feilhaber and Freddy Adu last summer. If he’s not available at this pick, the Goats could turn to Enzo Martinez or Luis Silva.

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.

7. D.C. United
Enzo Martinez, Midfielder, North Carolina
5'7", 145 pounds, Junior
26 games, 9 goals, 11 assists

If you’re wondering why D.C. would grab a playmaker like Martinez with reigning MLS MVP Dwayne DeRosario already in the fold, it’s pretty simple. DeRosario did his best work as a second forward, and Martinez is the type of pure attacking midfielder who could only make DeRosario better. If Martinez lasts this long, there’s no way D.C. passes.

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.

9. Chicago Fire
Casey Townsend, Forward, Maryland
5'11", 161 pounds, Senior
21 games, 17 goals, 2 assist

The Fire scored big with the addition of Dominic Oduro in 2011, but their forward stable still isn’t as strong as it needs to be. A skillful finisher with the quickness to create his own chances, Townsend should be one of the first forwards off the board.

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.

11. FC Dallas
Aaron Maund, Defender, Notre Dame
6'1", 185 pounts, Senior
18 games, 0 goals, 2 assists

With forward help expected to come via the international market, look for Dallas to turn to the draft for depth at centerback and defensive midfield. There are some solid D-Mid prospects on the board in UNC’s Kirk Urso and UCLA’s Andy Rose, but Dallas turns to the athletic Maund, who’s size and speed combination make him capable of contributing minutes right away.

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.

13. Philadelphia Union
Tony Cascio, Midfielder, Connecticut
5'11", 185 pounds, Senior
25 games, 5 goals, 8 assists

With Justin Mapp gone, and Keon Daniel’s whereabouts still unclear, Peter Nowak could use some depth on the wing. Cascio is the best pure winger in the draft. Though his senior season wasn’t as good as his junior year at UConn, Cascio still impressed scouts with his athleticism, pace and ability to go at people.

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.

15. Seattle Sounders
Colin Rolfe, Forward, Louisville
6'0", 175 pounds, Senior
23 games, 9 goals, 10 assists

Having lost forward depth with the departure of Nate Jaqua, the Sounders will be happy to land a dangerous striker in Rolfe, who didn’t have the kind of senior season expected of him, but who still has the tools to contribute right away.

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).

17. Real Salt Lake
Mykell Bates, Defender, Santa Clara
5'9", 172 pounds, Senior
15 games, 4 goals, 0 assists

Having lost Robbie Russell in the off-season, RSL can use some fullback depth. They find a quality option in Bates, a former U.S. Under-17 national team captain and strong right back. RSL could also be tempted to look for midfield depth after losing Andy Williams to retirement and Collen Warner to the expansion draft. If so, skillful midfielders like Arthur Ivo (SMU) and Miguel Ibarra (UC Irvine) would have to be on the radar.

18. Houston Dynamo
Calum Mallace, Midfielder, Marquette
6'2", Senior
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.

19. LA Galaxy
Andy Rose, Midfielder, UCLA
6'2", 170, Senior
24 games, 2 goals, 3 assists

Having loaded up on defensive depth in the off-season, the Galaxy should look to bolster defensive midfield and forward needs. While someone like Brian Ownby could help provide the Galaxy with some pace at forward, the Galaxy could find it tough to pass on Rose, a quality defensive midfield product. Bruce Arena won’t have to work hard to get a good scouting report on Rose considering his son, Kenny Arena, is a UCLA assistant and Rose is dating the daughter of former U.S. national team head coach Bob Bradley.

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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