As we count down to the 2013 SuperDraft on Thursday, January 17, MLSsoccer.com is ranking the top 10 players available to MLS teams by position. Today, Jason Saghini looks at the best left backs in the class of 2013.
Left back is always one of the most sought-after positions for MLS coaches and they hit the jackpot with this year’s draft class. Left back might be one of the deepest positions in the draft pool with four highly touted left backs and another four or five draftable players who could earn a roster spot this spring. Here are the top 10 left backs on my draft board:
10. Austin McAnena (Ohio State): This might be a stretch after he played in the middle of the field for most of college (specifically at holding mid), but McAnena is naturally left-footed and a good passer who can strike a ball over distance. It’s a long shot, but it’s a shot.
9. John Gallagher (Penn State): Here's a forward who has worked his way to left back and is relatively new to the position. There are more like him. He’s naturally left-footed and super-strong, and there are those that think he’s a sure bet to put it all together in MLS. But there are also plenty of detractors.
8. Jack Bennett (St. John’s): A left-mid to left back transplant. He can get up the field, but it’s his defensive abilities that will be in question. Being a smart player out of a good program (see Connor Lade) could be enough to get him a chance to earn a roster spot.
7. Nico Clavijo (unattached): A bit of an unknown quantity, the son of the FC Dallas technical director returned from a stint in Uruguay’s second division to play the 2012 season with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Some around the league feel he’s at or above the level of the other Combine players.
6. Ryan Clark (Monmouth): Clark has played all over the field in college, but left back seems the most likely place for him to land an MLS gig.
5. Greg Cochrane (Louisville): A versatile left-sided player who found success in college at left mid, but most likely ends up at left back in MLS, offering up his attacking talents from the back.
4. Dylan Remick (Brown): Among the top tier of left backs in the draft, the four-year All-Ivy selection is athletic with good size and can get forward. But unlike some of the guys on this list, he is a defender first and foremost.
3. Korey Kindle (CSU Bakersfield): Uber-athlete who converted from forward to left back two years ago and might be a bit of a project on the defensive side. But he has more upside than anyone else at the position.
2. Taylor Kemp (Maryland): Some would argue that Kemp is the best left back in this draft pool, but he struggled with injuries in 2012. When he’s on the field he provides everything you need from the position and is above average across the board with excellent service.
1. Jimmy Nealis (Georgetown): Nealis went from relative unknown to hot prospect in 2012. He has good size and athleticism. He’s comfortable on the ball and makes an impact in the attack whether on the dribble or with service from the wing.