SuperDraft: Who are the top 10 college players ahead of the 2015 draft?
And at last, the 2014 MLS SuperDraft is over. Wasn’t it fun?
Indeed, after two days of intrigue and drama, it’s hard to not want another helping of it, and yet we will all have to wait another year before we get one again.
Or do we? We present you the top 10 players on our 2015 SuperDraft Big Board. It's a quick look at the best of the best in the college game, and some thoughts on how their talent might translate to the MLS game.
Note: Players marked * are potential Generation adidas targets.
1) Leo Stolz, M, UCLA – It’s possible that no other underclassman in the country caused the same kind of “Will he, won’t he?” clamor that Stolz caused after his Pac-12 Player of the Year-winning junior season. Being the best player in the best conference in the country would be enough for a hefty GA deal, but if he can do it again in 2014, he’s the No. 1 pick. Easily.
2) Cyle Larin*, M/F, Connecticut – Or maybe not, because the other guy that made people lose their minds come SuperDraft time was Larin. The Canadian’s freshman season at UConn was superb: 14 goals, three assists, and an AAC Rookie of the Year Award. Alas, he didn’t sign a GA deal, so we can all lose our minds about him again in 2015.
3) Sagi Lev-Ari, F, Cal State Northridge – There will definitely be concerns raised around Lev-Ari. He’s your typical target striker, and needs service to succeed, but more problematic from a scout’s point of view is his age. He had to serve in the Israeli military before he came to the US, so when he gets drafted next year he’ll be 25 years old. Still, he’s scored 31 goals in the last two years, so there’s that.
4) Andrew Wolverton, GK, Penn State – The 2015 SuperDraft is not going to be like the 2014 edition. This year, there weren’t that many stand-out goalkeepers. Next year, there will be several, and Wolverton might be the best one. At 6-foot-6 and 222 pounds, he’ll certainly be the biggest. Wolverton has been lights out during his three seasons in Happy Valley, allowing 39 goals in 53 games and recording 24 shutouts, helping the Nittany Lions win this year’s Big Ten regular season title.
5) Omar Holness*, M, North Carolina – Holness likely could have been a GA contender this year, but his production was a little low for what you’d want out of an attacking midfielder. But if you’re asking if the 6-foot Jamaican has the skill and speed to succeed in MLS, the answer is yes. Very much so.
6) Eric Bird, M, Virginia – Is he a box-to-box midfielder? Is he a holding midfielder? Why does he pop up on the wings sometimes? Who knows, who cares: Bird is a hard-nosed player with an impressive engine and an eye for not only picking out a pass, but also for putting the ball in the net. Virginia’s captain is en route to another impressive season.
7) Jordan McCrary, D, North Carolina – Left backs are always in demand, and ones that have helped anchor a defense that has allowed just 20 goals in the last two years should be in even higher demand. At 5-foot-9, McCrary is a little small, but he should be the best left back prospect this coming season.
8) Zach Batteer, F, Stanford – Despite getting roughed up in the Pac-12, the Cardinal brought a lot of talent to the field in 2013, and Batteer very much held his own in that group. Stanford's leading scorer banged in nine goals on the year, including this one here at 2:25. Yeah, he’s quick.
9) Nick Besler, M, Notre Dame – Are we really that surprised that Matt Besler’s little brother is also good at soccer? Unlike Matt, Nick is a central midfielder, but he’s just as smart and solid as a defensive player. He’ll have a much expanded role this year on the reigning national title club, giving him the spotlight to one-up his brother at the SuperDraft (Matt went eighth overall in 2009).
10) James Pucci, F, Davis & Elkins (D2) – We’ll call this one the “Tesho Akindele Award,” bringing you the name of the stud from D-II that you’ve never heard of before until now but who still might get drafted No. 6 overall. A native of Italy, Pucci scored a staggering 27 goals in 18 games this year. That said, he’s a little undersized for a forward – 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds – so we’ll cheat and make this a double entry with LIU Post’s Norwegian striker Elvind Austboe (6-foot-1, 21 goals in 2013).