Who'll go No. 1 in 2014? Keep an eye on these five seniors
With the 2013 MLS SuperDraft complete and dozens of young college stars taking the first step to achieving their MLS dreams, it’s already time to take a quick look at a few of the college seniors that should have their names called a year from now at the 2014 SuperDraft.
5. Kyle Venter – Defender – New Mexico
The Colorado native heads into the 2013 season as arguably the best central defender in the college game. A three-year starter for the Lobos, Venter has earned NSCAA All-American honors for two years in a row while leading UNM to 11 shutouts in 22 matches last season.
A towering center back at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Venter was probably ready for MLS after his junior year, but a strong crop of young defenders already signed to Generation adidas deals has him coming back for what should be a dominant senior campaign.
4. Nikita Kotlov – Winger – Indiana
One of the stars of IU's national championship run, Kotlov broke out in a huge way, scoring five goals in the tournament including the game-winner in the title-game win over Georgetown. A dynamic winger, Kotlov will need to get a little stronger on the ball, but his tireless work rate and knack for popping up in good areas should translate well to the MLS game, perhaps as an off-striker.
With A.J. Corrado, Femi Hollinger-Janzen and Kotlov in the midfield, the Hoosiers return in 2013 loaded with potential MLS talent.
3. Mamadou Doudou Diouf – Forward – Connecticut
The Senegalese forward will return for his senior year in the fall as one of the most physically dominant forwards in the college game. A strong target man, Diouf has fed off service from this year's No. 2 overall pick Carlos Alvarez, logging 28 goals in his past two seasons at UConn.
Diouf earned NSCAA second-team All-American honors in 2012, leading the Huskies to the elite eight. With Alvarez and other key players graduated, scouts' eyes will be on Diouf to see if he truly does have what it takes to step up to the next level.
2. Steve Neumann – Midfielder – Georgetown
Who can forget Neumann’s master class in the thrilling College Cup semifinal penalty kick win over Maryland? The attacking midfielder (pictured) logged the first College Cup hat trick in nearly 20 years, leading the Hoyas to their first ever national championship appearance.
But that special performance wasn’t simply a flash in the pan. Neumann is blessed with serious talent, having tallied 31 goals and 28 assists, massive numbers for a player in the Big East. Returning to the Hoyas for his senior season, he is one of the best playmakers in the NCAA and could be a top 10 pick in the draft with another good year.
1. Patrick Mullins – Forward – Maryland
One of the breakout stars of the 2012 NCAA season at forward for the Terrapins. The junior from New Orleans tallied an amazing 17 goals and 10 assists en route to the MAC Hermann Trophy, given to the best college player in the nation.
A linking forward who is good in tight areas with good vision and a left foot to die for, Mullins wowed MLS coaches and scouts at the College Cup with his goal and two assists in Maryland's losing semifinal effort. All eyes in the college game will be on the forward in 2013 as he plays his senior season before a likely top five pick in January 2014.