HOOVER, Ala. — For college seniors and Generation adidas targets, there’s no better stage than the College Cup to promote your game. Whether it was with scouts at the stadium or watching on television, every MLS club had an eye on the action with four teams heavy with 2013 SuperDraft prospects taking center stage.
Let’s take a look at which seniors and GA targets – which rules out MVP Steve Neumann, who said he’s returning to Georgetown for his senior year – helped or hurt their draft stock last weekend.
Indiana senior center back Caleb Konstanski
The captain and emotional leader of the Hoosiers backline, Konstanski hardly put a foot wrong in central defense as IU kept their opponents off the board the entire weekend. As a kid who has spent his entire life in Bloomington, you wonder how Konstanski will deal with moving to an MLS team outside his comfort zone. but given the leadership he showed in leading his team to the title, that shouldn’t be much of an issue. He’s not coming into the league MLS-ready like FC Dallas’ Matt Hedges from last year’s champs, but give him a couple years to develop and you could have another Jay DeMerit on your hands.
A four-year starter out of the development machine that is Scott-Gallagher in St. Louis, Soffner wasn’t tested a whole bunch here at the College Cup. But when he was, he was spectacular, making two blinding late-game stops against Creighton in the semis then commanding his area like a veteran against Georgetown. The guy looks the part of a pro both on and off the field. The MLS stage won’t be too big for the College Cup Defensive MVP, and he should at least find his way into a preseason camp.
It wasn't hard to come away from Friday’s 4-4 draw extremely impressed with the Maryland attacker. Neumann grabbed the headlines with his hat trick, but Mullins (above) was nearly as impressive with a goal and two assists. Unlike many college forwards who get by simply with speed, work rate and a few moves that will be instantly scouted at the MLS level, Mullins is a complete package. He showed strong first touch, a wonderful ability to link up with his teammates and a poacher’s nose for goal. Perhaps his biggest attribute that pro scouts will love is his sweet left foot. Ante Razov comparisons will certainly be coming his way.
Georgetown senior Ian Christianson
News broke last week that Christianson, a player long thought to be a Chicago Fire Homegrown, was ruled draft-eligible by MLS. While the Fire will likely be miffed by the decision, rest assured that 18 other MLS teams put the central midfielder on their draft board. Christianson put in a fantastic effort on Friday, showing good range, a professional-level ability to read the game and the ability to switch the field of play on a dime. His level dropped in Sunday’s championship, but after 110 grueling minutes on Friday night, you can’t really hold that against him.
Perhaps this is unfair to the attacking midfielder who had no help from his teammates, but Gomez never really got going on Friday night in his chance to shine. Hounded all over the pitch by the Hoosiers, Gomez couldn’t produce his trademark slide-rule passes as the Bluejays reverted to a hit-and-hope strategy. The Combine is going to be extremely important for the Southern California native.
Maryland senior defender Taylor Kemp
Neumann has given a lot of NCAA defenders their lunch this season, and Kemp was added to that list. The senior outside back has struggled with injuries all season and it didn’t show well that his backup, Mikey Ambrose, completely changed the game when subbed in right before Maryland’s two-goal second-half comeback.
All eyes were on the Hoosers star and, while he wasn’t at the top of his goalscoring form – this was just the second time all year that he’s gone two games in a row without scoring – he made the play that won the championship with his smart header to Nikita Kotlov on the winning goal. His stock probably didn’t rise or fall much by this weekend, but any smart MLS team already knows what the big man can do.