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Mock 2011 MLS SuperDraft
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The 2011 MLS Draft is easily one of the toughest to project in recent memory.
Aside from the top two players, who most observers predict will be University of Akron teammates Perry Kitchen and Darlington Nagbe, the rest of the draft is a real crapshoot.
Whether you have D.C. United, which could trade up or trade down, or teams like Philadelphia and Houston, who could benefit from offers to move down in the draft, there are several teams considering wheeling and dealing.
Throwing another wrench into the 2011 MLS Draft is the inclusion of five non-college international players signed by MLS. With John Rooney, Wayne Rooney’s brother, leading the group, several of the foreign players impressed at the Combine and could go to teams willing to risk draft choices on little-known commodities.
One thing is clear, this year’s Generation adidas class, which is made up of top college underclassmen signed by MLS, should lead the way, with many of the ten members of the class likely to go in the first round.
How will Thursday’s MLS Draft go? Here is one scenario we could see play out in the first round:
2011 MLS DRAFT
1. Vancouver Whitecaps- PERRY KITCHEN, D/M, Akron
The Whitecaps could be tempted to select Nagbe, who is the most pro-ready attacking player in the draft pool, but Vancouver opts for Kitchen, a top defensive prospect who could develop either as a centerback or defensive midfielder.
2. Portland Timbers- DARLINGTON NAGBE, F, Akron
The Timbers could use Kitchen, and forward isn’t a pressing need with Kenny Cooper set to sign and another forward in the works, but John Spencer can’t pass on a talent like Nagbe, a real difference maker who would thrive in a three-forward attack if Portland decides to go that way.
MLS: June 23-25
|Thursday, June 23|
|Saturday, June 25|
|San Jose||0-0||LA Galaxy||Recap|
|Real Salt Lake||3-1||Toronto||Recap|
|Sunday, June 26|
|MLS Scores | Table | Fixtures|
3. D.C. United- WILL BRUIN, F, Indiana
If D.C. United wanted to go best available player, Valentin would be the pick here, but after having added a pair of defenders this off-season, including homegrown defender Ethan White, D.C. passes on Valentin to grab Bruin, a target forward who could work well with the likes of Chris Pontius and Josh Wolff.
4. Chivas USA- ZAREK VALENTIN, D, Akron
Robin Fraser knows defending and he’ll want the best defender he can grab. As tempting as Kofi Sarkodie might be, and as good as Jalil Anibaba looked at the Combine, Chivas USA goes with Valentin, who could emerge as a star right back, or settle in as a central defender.
5. Philadelphia Union- KOFI SARKODIE, D, Akron
Philadelphia is another team fielding offers for its pick, and given the team’s needs and what might be avaliable here, trading down might not be a bad idea. Peter Nowak has a good young right back in Sheanon Williams, but can’t pass on Sarkodie, who Philly could turn around and deal or keep as an upgrade.
6. New England Revolution- JALIL ANIBABA, D, North Carolina
The Revs will be pretty happy if Anibaba slides to six. The most impressive player at the MLS Combine, Anibaba is a physical and supremely athletic defender who showed good skill on the ball and could step in and start.
7. Houston Dynamo- COLE GROSSMAN, M, Duke
Every draft has some surprises, and while this pick might come as a surprise, it really shouldn’t. Grossman went into the Combine as one of the top rated central midfielders, and his steady, well-rounded performance at the Combine only solidified that standing. The Dynamo can use depth in the middle and find a good two-way midfielder in Grossman.
8. Vancouver Whitecaps- COREY HERTZOG, F, Penn State
The Whitecaps need forwards and land a good one in Hertzog. The Penn State striker is quick and has a nose for the goal. If Vancouver grabs Nagbe first overall, the Whitecaps could be tempted to add a defender like A.J. Soares or winger like Michael Nanchoff.
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9. Chicago- A.J. SOARES, D, California
The Fire need central defense help badly and Soares is the best on the board. He’s a technical defender who passes well and is calm on the ball. Not as athletically imposing as some others, but he could contribute right away.
10. Sporting KC- OMAR SALGADO, F, U.S. Under-20
Peter Vermes could be tempted to go for a player who is more ready to help right away, but he’ll be hard-pressed to pass on an enticing young prospect like Salgado. The U.S. Under-20 forward/midfielder boasts good size and technical ability, though he’s probably a year or two away from really contributing.
11. Seattle Sounders- ANTHONY AMPAIPITAKWONG, M, Akron
The Sounders could be tempted to grab a standout goalkeeping prospect like Zac MacMath, but the club can use some midfield creativity and Ampaipitakwong’s ability to play centrally or on the right wing make him a viable option for the Sounders attack.
12. Columbus Crew- MICHAEL NANCHOFF, M, Akron
Robert Warzycha could be tempted to go for UNC midfielder Stephen McCarthy as a potential replacement for Brian Carroll, but adding Ohio native Nanchoff, a dangerous left winger, would give the Crew a variety of lineup options.
13. New York Red Bulls- MICHAEL TETTEH, D, UCSB
The Red Bulls need help in central defense and a right back to groom as a replacement for Chris Albright, but with none of the top prospects at those positions left, they grab the best player on the board in Tetteh, a speedy left back who could challenge Roy Miller for the starting spot.
14. Real Salt Lake- JUSTIN MERAM, F, Michigan
RSL lost Robbie Findley in the off-season and while the club still has several forward options, Meram is a dangerous striker who could make an immediate impact.
15. San Jose Earthquakes- ZAC MACMATH, GK, Maryland
The Earthquakes don’t usually draft for the long term, but with MacMath on the board and Jon Busch turning 35 this year, Frank Yallop’s squad gets great value at No. 15.
16. Los Angeles Galaxy- Victor ESTUPINAN, F, Los Angeles
The Galaxy needs forward badly and will be happy to take a flier on the Ecuadorian international, who impressed at the Combine. Look for Los Angeles to be one of the teams actively trying to move up in the draft.
17. FC Dallas- STEPHEN McCARTHY, M, North Carolina
McCarthy didn’t do that well at the Combine, but he’s a Dallas area native and a defensive midfielder who could give Dallas needed depth in the middle.
18. Colorado Rapids- MICHAEL FARFAN, M, North Carolina
The Rapids could use a creative midfielder and Farfan is one of the best in the draft, though his draft stock took a hit after a disappointing Combine. He could wind up going earlier, but if Farfan falls here, the Rapids should grab him.
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the U.S. national team.