2018 MLS Mock Draft 2.0 (Updated)

By January 15, 2018College Soccer, MLS

**This is our newest version of the draft.  We have taken combine performances and the latest GA/senior signings into account.**

The MLS Draft, in its various forms, has been in existence since the league began back in 1996.  In its first year, the first-ever College Draft produced big names like Eddie Pope, Greg Vanney, Steve Ralston, Eddie Lewis, and Ante Razov.  It was a young league, not subject to the parity of today.  It was a simpler time, one before Designated Players, General Allocation Money, and Targeted Allocation Money.   Teams could pick players that could step in right away.

Today, the SuperDraft may not be as relevant as in the past, but teams can still get quality players.  Some are starters.  Some are role players.  Even more stock the rosters of USL affiliates, giving them a chance to still develop at a high level.

While coming up with projections for the MLS SuperDraft is incredibly difficult due to its unpredictability and uncertainty, a mock draft for the first two rounds of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft can be found below.

Round 1

Photo Credit: Richard Kruszynski/ISNSoccer.com

1. Los Angeles FC – Joao Moutinho, Defender, Akron – Expansion teams always have a lot of holes to fill and LAFC is no different.  We have a feeling that they will go with Moutinho, a starlet from the Sporting Lisbon academy and a player so versatile that he can play anywhere in the midfielder or backline.  He can also score, noted by the three goals and five assists in 2017.  He is young (just turned 20) and absolutely, positively outperformed Stanford’s Tomas Hilliard-Arce in the MLS Combine.

2. LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, Forward, Wake Forest – The LA Galaxy, a team that finished 2017 with an 8-18-8 record, have seen better times to be honest and not having dynamic international stars like Beckham and Keane has to be part of the problem.  The Galaxy’s public interest in Crew SC’s Ola Kamara shows their interest in a proven goal scorer.  Enter Bakero, son of a former FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad standout, who tallied 16 goals and 14 assists at Wake Forest on his way to winning the 2017 MAC Hermann Trophy.  A career total of 37 goals and 27 assists show he was a consistent attacking force for the Demon Deacons and even though he is a senior, he may be the first forward off the board.

3. D.C. United – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Defender, Stanford -The Black & Red finished with a league-low 32 points in 2017 just like the Galaxy. The team struggled in nearly every category. A league-worst -29 goal differential, caused by a ratio of 31 goals for and 60 goals against, shows the squad needs work on both sides of the ball.  They have building blocks like Luciano Acosta, (a healthy) Patrick Mullins, Ian Harkes, Darren Mattocks, and Kofi Opare, but they also lost one of the league’s best goalkeepers when Bill Hamid headed off to Denmark.  It’s crazy to think of drafting a keeper this high in a class where there is no obvious standout.  Hilliard-Arce has won just about everything at Stanford, including three NCAA national titles and a laundry list of major awards.  Defense wins championships as the saying goes and Hilliard-Arce has a chance to be part of the D.C. backline for years to come.  We previously had the Cardinal center back at #1, but his combine performance wasn’t as good as expected.

4. Montreal Impact – Francis Atuahene, Forward, Michigan – Montreal has two early picks so they have plenty of options. Stockpiling Generation adidas selections is always a wise option as they don’t count against a team’s salary budget.  Atuahene is yet another pro-ready prospect from Chaka Daley’s program. One of the Big Ten’s top players, this native of Ghana could add a spark to an already lively attack.  Atuahene is a gamebreaker with freakish speed who could easily become the next Dominic Oduro or Kekuta Manneh.

5. Minnesota United – Chris Mueller, Midfielder, Wisconsin – A ninth-place finish in the West was respectable for the Loons in their inaugural MLS campaign.  The 70 goals allowed by their defense is another story.  However, it is hard to find a defender worthy of this pick with Hilliard-Arce and Moutinho taken. Minnesota can take Mueller, who is widely regarded as the most technical player in all of college soccer and perhaps the most MLS-ready.  A ridiculous 20 assists in 2017, which led the nation in that category, adds to an impressive career tally of 22 goals and 35 assists in 75 appearances.

6. Orlando City SC – Ema Twumasi, Forward, Wake Forest – Entering the post-Kaka era will be tough for the Lions, but help is already on the way.  Sacha Kljestan, acquired in a recent trade with the Red Bulls, is an able replacement as the face of this franchise right now.   Twumasi, who registered ten goals and seven assists in 2017, is a surprising talent that could be the club’s future.  Widely regarded as the player with the highest ceiling, Twumasi would be a tremendous value if he fell this far.  Playing on the same team as Bakero probably pulled his numbers down a bit, but the Ghanaian will have his own spotlight in Orlando, especially if Cyle Larin departs for greener pastures as rumored.

7. Montreal Impact – Mo Adams, Midfielder, Syracuse – Adams showed strong leadership and skill from day one and was the Orange’s captain in just his sophomore season.  This is a safe pick and could help upgrade the Impact’s midfield, complementing Ignacio Piatti and Blerim Dzemaili nicely.  More importantly, Adams could become the player that replaces Patrice Bernier, who recently became part of the club’s academy staff after a distinguished career.

8. New England Revolution – Wyatt Omsberg, Dartmouth – This is a new season and a fresh start for the Revs. Jay Heaps is out.  Brad Friedel is in.  It would be surprising if New England addressed the offensive side of the ball as they have a plethora of options even after the trade of Kei Kamara.  Krisztian Nezmeth, Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez, Teal Bunbury, and Juan Agudelo are all interesting attack-minded players.  Even with the recent acquisition of Gabriel Somi, the Revolution look a little thin at the back.  Omsberg brings a massive frame to the NE backline and would look great if paired with Andrew Farrell.

9. New England Revolution – Mason Toye, Forward, Indiana – It doesn’t hurt to look for the next great striker to lead the Revs to glory. Kamara had much success over his decorated career, but it didn’t seem like New England was the greatest fit.  Toye is one of the draft’s top strikers even after just one season at IU.  His strong skill set proves that the 10 goals and the 2017 Big Ten Freshman of the Year honor was no fluke.

10. Real Salt Lake – Edward Opoku, Forward, Virginia – The most recent Generation adidas signing was absolutely stellar for the Cavaliers.  His goal production increased each year with the junior striker finishing 2017 with eight goals and four assists.  The Ghanaian came to the U.S. through the Right to Dream program and he is on the verge of living the dream as a professional soccer player.  You couldn’t ask for a better environment or franchise than Real Salt Lake and Opoku could absolutely thrive there.

11. FC Dallas – Jon Gallagher, Forward, Notre Dame – The Hermann Trophy semifinalist is a solid attacker, but might be better suited to the midfield thanks to his smallish 5’9” frame. Yet he’s a proven goal scorer and could be developed to replace someone like Tesho Akindele.  This is a safe pick, you know what you are getting with Gallagher.

12. San Jose Earthquakes – Alan Winn, Forward, North Carolina – Many of the Quakes’ top players are in the latter stages of their careers. Replacements for Chris Wondolowski (34), Shea Salinas (31), Marvell Wynne (31), Quincy Amarikwa (30), and Simon Dawkins (30) will need to be found at some point. With a quality option like Winn available, this could be the year.

13.  Sporting Kansas City – Brian White, Midfielder, Duke – Graham Zusi and Roger Espinoza are both 31 and a replacement should be found sooner rather than later. White looks to be an excellent prospect after a successful career at Duke that included 63 starts for the Blue Devils.  White has always been a blue-chip prospect, receiving NSCAA Youth All-American honors after playing in the USSDA in his younger years.

14. Atlanta United – Tim Kubel, Defender, Louisville – The Stuttgart, Germany native is listed at 5’9” 162, but is still a perfect fit for Atlanta’s high-octane attack, contributing as an outside back or anywhere in the midfield. He has won a ridiculous 13 major awards and is a back-to-back Hermann Trophy semifinalist.  His youth pedigree includes time with both FC Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund.  This is a great value at #14 and will make Atlanta United even stronger.  Perhaps Kubel could be seen as a long-term replacement for an older player Michael Parkhurst (33).

15. Chicago Fire – Arthur Bosua, Forward, Columbia – The Johannesburg, South Africa native has been one of the Ivy League’s top players over the past four years. 27 goals and 12 assists in 59 starts are solid stats from an impressive college career.  Bosua’s domination has earned him an opportunity at the next level and Chicago could be a perfect place to start, especially since the Fire only have three forwards on the roster at the moment.

16. New York Red Bulls – Chris Lema, Midfielder, Georgetown – The Red Bulls look to be a force for many years to come thanks to a stable of strong veterans and up-and-coming youngsters. The trade of Kljestan for a defender and forward means there is a hole in the midfield, one that can be lessened by the addition of Lema.

Photo Credit: St. John’s Athletics

17. Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Harry Cooksley, Forward, St. John’s – The London native is a versatile player capable of success in a number of positions. His 6’3” frame makes him a big target up and his technical skill makes him an effective midfield option.  Cooksley could be a long-term replacement for either Kei Kamara (33) or Fredy Montero (30).  In any case he will be joining fellow St. John’s alum Tim Parker in the pros, perhaps with the ‘Caps.

18. Sporting Kansas City – Brandon Bye, Defender, Western Michigan – Bye is a versatile playmaker that is at home in a number of positions including right back, right wing back, right winger, and center forward.  He’s won no fewer than 22 major awards and is easily the most decorated and distinguished player in Bronco history.  Bye is a hard-working player with a strong motor and high level of fitness.  He is the only player to finish in the top 10 in the speed, agility, and power tests at the combine.  Sporting KC will be lucky if this combine star is still around at #18.; his stock is rising that fast.

19. New York City FC – Rafael Andrade Santos, Midfielder, VCU – Called the best attacking midfielder in college soccer, the Brazilian has the tools to be an MLS standout. He won’t be called into action right away and could even have the immediate opportunity to star in the USL.  This could be the steal of the entire draft; we have a really good vibe about this player.  He could be the player that David Villa has been waiting for.

20. Houston Dynamo – Gordon Wild, Forward, Maryland – Wild earned the 2016 Big Ten Player of the Year honor after scoring a whopping 17 goals. The German’s production dipped in 2017 as he registered a still respectable five goals and two assists.  Maryland always produces solid pros and Wild could easily become the next Patrick Mullins.  However, some scouts reported that Wild did not quite meet expectations at the combine.

Photo Credit: Gary Shook

21. Columbus Crew SC – Tristan Blackmon, Defender, Pacific – The Las Vegas native is an athletic option that could fit the backline of any MLS team. Having previously experienced success as a forward, Blackmon isn’t afraid to push up the pitch and contribute to the attack.  He didn’t have the greatest combine, but he’s still a good value at #21.

22. Seattle Sounders FC – Drew Skundrich, Midfielder, Stanford – The legacy of Cardinal soccer continues with another Stanford player being chosen in the first round.  Successful programs create successful players and that is certainly the case here.  The Sounders have few holes to fill and Skundrich will have time to develop, perhaps with Sounders 2

23. Toronto FC – Lucas Stauffer, Creighton – A solid combine performance put Stauffer on the draft boards of several teams.  He’s a solid outside back, but is flexible enough to contribute in the midfield.  Creighton always produces great players and Stauffer will be the next Bluejay to make it to the pros.

Round 2

24.  LAFC – Michael Nelson, Goalkeeper, SMU

25.  Colorado Rapids – Alex Roldan, Midfielder, Seattle

26.   Vancouver Whitecaps FC- Sam Gainford, Forward, Akron

27.  Colorado Rapids- Ken Krolicki, Michigan State

28.  Minnesota United FC- George Campbell, Defender, Maryland

29.  FC Dallas – Jeff Caldwell, Goalkeeper, Goalkeeper, Virginia

30.   San Jose Earthquakes – Danny Musovski, Forward, UNLV

31.   New York Red Bulls – Graham Smith, Midfielder, Denver

32.  Columbus Crew SC – Nate Shultz, Defender, Akron

33.  Real Salt Lake – Lucas Stauffer, Defender, Creighton

34.  FC Dallas -AJ Paterson, Midfielder, Wright State

35.   San Jose Earthquakes – Frantzdy Pierrot, Forward, Coastal Carolina

36.  Atlanta United FC – Josh Morton, Defender, Cal

37.  Atlanta United FC – Mamadou Guirassy, Forward, NJIT

38.  Chicago Fire – Manuel Cordeiro, Midfielder,  Akron

39.   New York Red Bulls – Niko DeVera, Defender,  Akron

40.  LA Galaxy – Brian Iloski, Midfielder, UCLA

41.  Minnesota United FC – Mark Segbers, Defender, Wisconsin

42.  New York City FC – Cory Brown, Defender,  University

43.  Houston Dynamo – Luis Argudo, Midifelder, Wake Forest

44.  Columbus Crew SC – Pau Belana, Midfielder, Akron

45.  Seattle Sounders FC – Matias Pyysalo, Midfielder, UCF

46.  Toronto FC – Jose Carrera-Garcia, Cal

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