Predicting the MLS SuperDraft is, as you may have figured out. an almost impossible task. Not only do we have little to no idea of who teams are considering and what concerns they have about the various options they have, trades are inevitably going to be prevalent. It’s tough to predict draft picks in every sport but MLS is arguably the toughest. Keep in mind while reading this that literally any of my selections could be void if teams decide to trade away their pick.
I’ll give you my opinions on the draft anyway. So enjoy, while remembering that I’m going to be even wronger than Mel Kiper Jr.
1) Minnesota United: Jeremy Ebobisse (FW, Duke)
Minnesota still have a number of holes to fill in their roster, and with this pick, they are able to solidify the position of center forward. Ebobisse has been compared to stars such as Cyle Larin and Bradley Wright-Phillips in his movement and goal-scoring style.
2) Atlanta United: Miles Robinson (CB, Syracuse/Generation Adidas)
Atlanta have signed Michael Parkhurst, but they are still in need of another starting center back. Don’t be surprised if they seriously listen to offers for this pick.
3) Chicago Fire: Abu Danladi (FW, UCLA/Generation Adidas)
It’s been a very successful offseason for the Fire, with Juninho arriving as a No. 8 and Nemanja Nikolic signing as a DP No. 9. They need another dynamic attacker alongside David Accam and Nikolic, and Danladi fits that bill well.
4) Houston Dynamo: Jackson Yueill (AM, UCLA/Generation Adidas)
Houston’s need for a ball-moving midfielder can be filled perfectly with the attacking mid Yueill, who excelled in the combine as a central creator.
5) Columbus Crew SC: Daniel Johnson (Wing, Louisville)
This may be a bit of a surprising selection, but Johnson’s performance as an inverted winger in the mold of Chris Pontius at the MLS combine makes him an attractive early-round option for Columbus, who could use a backup for stars Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram at the position.
6) San Jose Earthquakes: Chris Odoi-Atsem (RB, Maryland)
The Quakes’ recent signing of 24-year old Harold Cummings and Brandon Aubrey’s dismal combine performance combine to deter San Jose from choosing at a center back at this position, instead going with the speedy Maryland right back Odoi-Atsem.
7) Vancouver Whitecaps: Jacori Hayes (CM, Wake Forest)
Of the many holes in Vancouver’s current roster, the box-to-box midfield spot next to star d-mid Matias Laba is one of the most pressing. Hayes, a dynamic mid similar to Darlington Nagbe, would be an intriguing option.
8) Atlanta United: Zeiko Lewis (FW/Wing, Boston College)
Like their first pick, Atlanta will be listening to trade offers for this selection. But if they do decide to take a player, don’t be surprised if it’s Zeiko Lewis, an attacker who could be a useful super-sub option.
9) Columbus Crew SC: Nick Depuy (FW, UC-Santa Barbara)
While the Crew enter the 2017 season with Ola Kamara firmly planted at the top of their 4-2-3-1 formation, Gregg Berhalter would like to have a taller, more physical backup option. Depuy is 6’4” and excels holding up play.
10) Portland Timbers: Brandon Aubrey (CB, Notre Dame)
My prediction that Aubrey (who is widely considered the second-best center back in this class) falls all the way to ten is not shared by many other pundits, but given the unpredictability of this draft, I’ll afford myself some creative liberty. Aubey has not helped himself much at the combine, but he’s certainly good enough to stay in the top ten.
11) Chicago Fire: Tucker Hume (FW, North Carolina)
Again assuming that there are no trades made here, Chicago go with the center forward Hume as a backup for Nikolic. He is a big, lanky No. 9 who will be a threat in the box and will drop deep to hold-up play.
12) D.C. United: Reagan Dunk (RB, Denver)
One of the top right backs in this draft, Dunk has been compared to 2016 Rookie of the Year runner-up Keegan Rosenberry.
13) Real Salt Lake: Julian Gressel (Wing, Providence)
RSL’s star winger, Juan Manuel Martinez, is homesick and will be heading back to Argentina. Gressel obviously isn’t Burrito and won’t directly fill the hole, but he could be of use.
14) Sporting Kansas City: Jonathan Lewis (CM, Akron/Generation Adidas)
Sometimes players fall because of bad combine performances, and sometimes they fall because teams were simply selecting other players. That can be applied to Lewis here. SKC get a steal at 14.
15) Colorado Rapids: Lalas Abubakar (CB, Dayton)
Colorado have a history of selecting center backs in the first round, and that tradition continues. Abubakar, who had a magnificent combine, is great in the air and in emergency defense, and his main weakness (technical skills and distribution out of the back) won’t be as much of an issue in possession-averse Colorado.
16) Seattle Sounders: Francis DeVries (CB, St. Francis PA)
Center backs are a particular strength of this draft, and the Sounders grab the fourth on the day. DeVries had a solid combine to boost his status to the level of the MLS champs.
17) New York Red Bulls: Justin Schmidt (CB, Washington)
And anotha one. The Red Bulls are weak in central defense and they would have loved to see Abubakar fall to 18.
18) FC Dallas: Walker Hume (CB, North Carolina)
Forgive me. FC Dallas need depth at the position and Hume has been compared to Matt Hedges.
19) Montreal Impact: Shamit Shome (M, FC Edmonton/Generation Adidas)
A quiet combine from the Canadian Shome lowers him to 19, but at least he has the distinction of breaking up this run of center backs. And Montreal need some young midfielders.
20) New England Revolution: Guillermo Delgado (FW, Delaware)
The departure of Femi Hollinger-Janzen in the expansion draft opens a hole in the speedy-young-goal-scoring-forward realm. Delgado is exactly that.
21) Toronto FC: Colton Storm (FB, North Carolina)
Possibly TFC’s only glaring weakness is their lack of wing back options behind Justin Morrow and Steven Beitashour. I’m not convinced Storm is a definite wing back (maybe they trade up for Odoi-Atsem) but he’s the top full back on the board at this point.
22) Seattle Sounders: Jakob Nerwinski (RB, UConn)
Nerwinski is a speedster out on that right flank — as he showed in the physical tests — and with Seattle searching for a Tyrone Mears replacement at right back, he could be a nice option to stash away for a year in USL to cut off the edges.
[Photo: Duke Chronicle]