We're counting down the hours to the 2013 SuperDraft on Thursday (noon ET on MLSsoccer.com, ESPN3.com and YouTube) and MLSsoccer.com is ranking the top 10 players available to MLS teams by position.
Right back is not one of the deeper positions heading into the 2013 SuperDraft and Supplemental Draft. In fact we’ve seen several midfielders, center backs and even left backs try their hand at the position during the MLS Player Combine.
So with no obvious star right back in this year’s class, here’s our Top 10 based on scouting reports received from around the nation.
10. Brock Granger (Louisville) – A right back who could even fill in at left back if necessary. Although he’s not overly athletic, Granger is a smart defender with good technique and tactical awareness.
9. Ben Newman (Wake Forest) – Strong, solid fullback with a great engine who is decent in the air and technically clean on the ball. Has a solid left foot which can also allow him to play at left back.
8. Luke Norman (Michigan State) – Big, fiery, athletic, aggressive defender with a good engine. He’s solid in the air, but needs to improve his positioning, his 1-v-1 defending and his consistency. His move to right back changed the Spartans in 2012 because of his ability to get into the attack. Played at Wake Forest before Michigan State.
7. Max Wasserman (Connecticut) – Solid, consistent, all-around right back, whose main strength is his ability on dead balls. He gets forward and delivers very good service. Also technical enough to handle some set-piece duty. Likely a Supplemental Draft pick.
6. Jesse Menzies (Central Connecticut State) – Pure athlete with excellent soccer technique, who can play a number of positions, including right back. Attack-minded, hard-working player who has to improve on his defending. But he’s a smart player who makes good decisions and has a good soccer IQ.
5. Joe Franco (Cal State Northridge) – Highly touted right back who injured his ACL in his conference championship game and missed the NCAAs and MLS Player Combine. Composed and calm on the ball and a good 1-v-1 defender. He knows when to get into the attack, he connects his passes and he serves a good ball from deep. He’s not a physical specimen, but he is quick and has good speed and ticks off all the boxes of what you’d expect out of a right back. What he lacks in size and athleticism, he makes up for with a good work rate.
4. Jordan Gafa (North Carolina) – Solid, steady, smart attacking right back with a nice right foot, and reads the game well. He hasn’t stood out at the MLS Combine, but the shortage of right back options could see him become a sleeper pick. Likened to a poor man’s Steve Cherundolo: He has average athleticism and he doesn’t possess out-and-out pace, but he’s a good all-rounder with enough skill.
3. Drew Beckie (Denver) – An exceptional athlete who showed his versatility at the MLS Player Combine. Played multiple spots for Denver and spent more than two years at centerback, but served as a full-time right back in 2012. He also played at centerback for the Canadian Under-23 national team. He’s technically solid, but his decision-making could use cleaning up.
2. Andrew Quintana (Central Florida) – Center back and right back in college, but undersized to be a central defender in the pros. Extremely technical player with soccer savvy, who can fit nicely in a possession-oriented team. He reads the game well, makes great decisions on the ball and still has plenty of defensive bite.
1. Reed Matte (UAB) – Another dogged, consistent, powerful right back who does not put a foot wrong and works all day. He has good athleticism, he’s fast and he makes good decisions on the ball. Stopping Reed Matte was the way to stop UAB because of his impact on the attack. He serves a ball cleanly with either foot. Played for Portland’s Under-23 team in the summer.
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