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2012 MLS Mock Draft: Fun starts at three

UCLA's Kelyn Rowe could be the first of the playmakers selected Thursday.
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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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The 2012 MLS Draft is set for Thursday, and while teams throughout the league are embroiled in trade talks to either move or up down the draft order, the pool of prospective draft picks has come into focus after the weekend’s MLS Combine.

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 than 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.

Players like UCSB midfielders Luis Silva and Sam Garza and Dartmouth striker Lucky Mkosana saw their stock rise, while Louisville teammates Nick DeLeon and Colin Rolfe and Generation adidas defender Tyler Polak saw their draft stock tumble after some shaky (or non-existent) showings.

MLS teams aren’t putting everything on Combine performances though, not with more and more teams having dedicated scouting systems. Not all MLS teams approach scouting the college game the same, though, so there is still a good chance some players will go earlier than expected after impressing the right team.

Predicting how this year’s draft will play out is even tougher than previous years because so many teams are looking to trade either up or down. The No. 3 and No. 4 overall picks are the hottest commodities as teams position themselves to snag one of the playmakers available after expected top two picks Darren Mattocks and Andrew Wenger come off the board. With that in mind, here is how we can see the 2012 MLS Draft playing out on Thursday:

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

As enticing as Andrew Wenger is (and there are rumblings the Impact may surprise people and take the versatile Duke star), Montreal ultimately grabs the most dangerous attacking player in the draft. Mattocks has game-changing speed and a nose for goal.

2. Vancouver Whitecaps
Andrew Wenger, Defender/Midfielder, Duke
6'0", 185 pounds, Junior
22 games, 17 goals, 8 assists

The Whitecaps desperately want Wenger, and unless Montreal pulls a curve ball, Vancouver should land the US Under-23 player and Hermann Award winner. Boasting the ability to play as a center-back, defensive midfielder and even right back, Wenger is just a flat-out good player who has the qualities to be an all-star.

3. New England Revolution
Kelyn Rowe, Midfielder, UCLA
5'8", 150 pounds, Sophomore
24 games, 6 goals, 10 assists

Given all the needs New England has, and considering how many teams are desperate to trade up to the third and fourth picks, it seems a safe bet the Revs won’t be holding this pick on draft day. Even if they do, they would be hard-pressed not to grab the most valued prospect left and dangle him as trade bait. Kelyn Rowe is that player, a skilled attacking midfielder and member of the US Under-23 national team pool.

4. Toronto FC
Luis Silva, Midfielder, UCSB
5'11", 163 pounds, Senior
22 games, 17 goals, 10 assists

No player boosted their draft stock more than Silva, who was arguably the most impressive of a strong group of attacking midfielders at the Combine. Boasting good quickness, a sharp passing touch and good vision, Silva is one of the players multiple teams are interested in trading up to try to acquire.

5. Chivas USA
Casey Townsend, Forward, Maryland
5'11", 161 pounds, Senior
21 games, 17 goals, 2 assist

The Goats will be tempted to take a look at midfielders such as Sam Garza and Enzo Martinez, but with Miller Bolanos having been signed, Chivas USA can focus their attention to the forward line, where Justin Braun has been traded and Juan Pablo Angel has yet to re-sign.

6. San Jose Earthquakes
Sam Garza, Forward/Midfielder, UCSB
5'11", 160 pounds, Junior
23 games, 8 goals, 4 assists

 

The departure of Bobby Convey leaves a void on the left flank for San Jose, one that Shea Salinas alone can’t fill. Look for the Earthquakes to snag the most impressive winger at the Combine. Garza’s speed, technical quality and versatility (he can play forward and as a winger), makes him the perfect fit at No. 6.

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

D.C. is one of the teams looking to move up in the draft, but if they stand pat, and Martinez is there, Ben Olsen won’t be too upset. Martinez boasts outstanding attacking qualities as a playmaker, but has added a tough edge to his game that could make him a more well-rounded option in the middle of the park.

8. Portland Timbers
Matt Hedges, Defender, North Carolina
6'4", 185 pounds, Senior
26 games, 6 goals, 1 assist

The Timbers could use some depth on the wing and could be tempted to grab a player like Tony Cascio or Nick DeLeon, but John Spencer will be hard-pressed to pass on Hedges, the best center-back in the draft.

9. Chicago Fire
Tony Cascio, Midfielder, Connecticut
5'11", 185 pounds, Senior
25 games, 5 goals, 8 assists

The Fire could use some depth on the wings, and with Patrick Nyarko facing a potential move to forward from the right flank, Chicago could do worse than add a right winger like Cascio, who is big and mobile and technically gifted. He didn’t have the best MLS Combine, but scouts still consider him one of the best wingers available.

10. Columbus Crew
Chandler Hoffman, Forward, UCLA
6'0", 160 pounds, Junior
24 games, 18 goals, 6 assists

The Crew have already added some impressive talent in Matt Lampson and Ben Speas as Homegrown players, but they can still use some more depth at forward, and Hoffman is the perfect fit. His nose for goal and intelligent movement make him a constant creator of goals and chances, even if he isn’t the most athletic of forward options.

11. FC Dallas
Austin Berry, Defender, Louisville
6'2", 180 pounds, Senior
23 games, 1 goal, 2 assists

With George John looking less and less likely to be sticking around Dallas much longer, Schellas Hyndman will want to add a center-back who can provide some cover and eventually be a starter. Andrew Jean-Baptiste is an appealing option because he’s young and a Generation adidas player, but Berry’s maturity and experience give him the edge.

12. Toronto FC
Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Defender, Connecticut
6'2", 205 pounds, Senior
25 games, 2 goals, 1 assists

TFC will have to be pretty happy to come away from the first round with an elite playmaker like Silva and a young and promising center-back in Jean-Baptiste. Many coaches rave about his upside, but there are some questions about his technical qualities and decision making. He does boast outstanding athletic qualities and has the highest ceiling in the deep center-back pool.

13. Philadelphia Union
Dom Dwyer, F, South Florida
5'9", 180 pounds, Senior
21 games, 16 goals, 2 assists

The Union are believed to be shopping forward Danny Mwanga, and even with the recent addition of young Costa Rican forward Josue Martinez, Philadelphia can use some depth up top. Enter Dwyer, a player whose stock took a dip but who is much better than he showed at the MLS Combine. Strong like a bull and boasting deceptive speed, the English-born Dwyer could wind up being the steal of the draft.

14. Colorado Rapids
Aaron Maund, Defender, Notre Dame
6'1", 185 pounts, Senior
18 games, 0 goals, 2 assists

The Rapids are in dire need of some centerback depth and Maund is the perfect prospect to step in and provide minutes and an eventual starting option.


 

15. Seattle Sounders
Tyler Polak, Defender, Creighton
5'8", 150 pounds, Senior
24 games, 1 goal, 5 assists

Anyone who watched the MLS Combine might consider it a surprise to see Polak projected as a first rounder considering how much he struggled, but the young left back is still considered an elite-level prospect. His youth and Generation adidas status make him a worthy risk.

16. Sporting Kansas City
Calum Mallace, Midfielder, Marquette
6'2", Senior
16 games, 3 goals, 6 assists

Sporting KC could use some central defense depth and could easily grab Creighton product Andrew Duran, but landing a central midfielder like Mallace, who impressed at the Combine with his two-way ability, could be tough for Peter Vermes to pass up.

17. Real Salt Lake
Nick DeLeon, Midfield, Louisville
5'10", 170 pounds, Senior
22 games, 6 goals, 6 assists

Injuries forced DeLeon to miss most of the Combine, which shouldn’t necessarily be a strike against him, but the buzz around the MLS coaching circles is that he didn’t impress in interviews and there was some concern he skipped Combine games on purpose. Even if that does hurt his stock, we can’t see him falling past Real Salt Lake, the same team that tried to claim him as a Homegrown Player.

18. Houston Dynamo
Lucky Mkosana, Forward, Dartmouth
5'9", 169 pounds, Senior
17 games, 10 goals, 1 assists

The Dynamo are in dire need of some forward options, and that’s even if Brian Ching is rescued from his Montreal “prison." No forward boosted his stock more than Mkosana, who showed an ability be a strong and skilled target forward. He answered questions about being able to play against elite level college talent and could be a surprise first-rounder.

19. LA Galaxy
Andrew Duran, Defender, Creighton
6'1", 160, Senior
24 games, 0 goals, 0 assists

The loss of Omar Gonzalez for nine months with a torn ACL turned the Galaxy’s draft priorities from finding the best player available to grabbing the best center-back they can get their hands on. Bruce Arena will be happy to grab Duran, a skilled and savvy center-back capable of contributing at right back as well.

FOX SOCCER 2012 MLS MOCK DRAFT - SECOND ROUND

20. Montreal Impact - Andy Rose, Midfielder, UCLA
21. Vancouver Whitecaps - Evan James, Midfielder, Charlotte
22. New England Revolution - Babayele Sodade, F, UAB
23. Chicago Fire - Ethan Finlay, F/W, Creigton
24. Real Salt Lake - Hunter Jumper, LB, Viringia
25. San Jose Earthquakes - Colin Rolfe, F, Louisville
26. Columbus Crew - Tommy Meyer, CB, Indiana
27. Portland Timbers - Alec Purdie, RW, Indiana
28. Chicago Fire - James Kiffe, LB, UCSB
29. Columbus Crew - Greg Jordan, M, Creighton
30. Sporting KC - Evans Frimpong, F/M, Delaware
31. New York Red Bulls - Chris Blais, G, South Florida
32. Phildelphia Union - Justin Chavez, CB, Tulsa
33. San Jose Earthquakes - Antoine Hoppenot, F, Princeton
34. Seattle Sounders - Jason Banton, LM, International (England)
35. Philadelphia Union - Brian Ownby, F/W, Virginia
36. Real Salt Lake - Kohei Yamada, M, International (Japan)
37. Houston Dynamo - Kirk Urso, M, North Carolina
38. LA Galaxy - Charles Rodriguez, CB, Charlotte

Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.

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