Unlike a year ago, when Montreal's choice clearly came down to Andrew Wenger or Darren Mattocks, there's some mystique surrounding the first pick of Thursday's 2013 MLS SuperDraft (12 pm ET, watch live online).
For much of the buildup to Thursday's 38 selections, Louisville's physically imposing and surprising skillful defender Andrew Farrell has been the prohibitive favorite to hear his name called first. But that's certainly no guarantee with stock rising and dropping at the MLS Combine in Fort Lauderdale, and one Canadian journalist is already predicting Toronto FC will go another way with the first of their two top-three picks. Meanwhile, another says a trade for more established talent may yet be the way to go for TFC boss Kevin Payne.
One position where the Ontario club seems set from an experience perspective is central midfield. TFC announced the signing of former Sporting KC midfielder Julio Cesar on Tuesday morning.
No matter what Toronto do, it seems Chivas USA have already made up their minds. That is, if you believe colorful manager José Luis Sánchez Solá – a.k.a. "El Chelís" – when he says the decision has essentially already been made. According to Chelís, UConn's Carlos Alvarez will get his wish and go at No. 2 to the Goats. What do you think of his big reveal? Misguided strategy or a crafty way to shift attention from Chivas' real targets?
For now, the MLSsoccer.com staff agrees with Chelís: Alvarez is the No. 1-ranked attacking midfielder in the latest SuperDraft top 10.
Like Toronto, Vancouver and FC Dallas have multiple picks in the top 20, but both sides certainly have different needs. Check out the 'Caps depth chart and needs here, or find out why FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman is focused on drafting MLS-ready talent.
Listen to what the ExtraTime Radio guys had to say about all of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft chatter here. Simon Borg, Jason Saghini and Matt Doyle are in Florida soaking up information on the hopefuls, one of which is Erik Hurtado, who hopes his performances can push him into the top half of the first round.
Of course, everything could change Tuesday – the final day of play at the Combine – but one thing that's not likely to change soon is the symbiotic relationship between college soccer and MLS. It may not be perfect, but read why one columnist says it's still a productive partnership.
Speaking of productive partnerships, it seems almost certain that the LA Galaxy will get Brazilian midfielder Juninho back for a fourth straight year. His former partner in the center of the field, David Beckham, won't be back, but after turning down a lucrative offer from a Chinese club, it seems Frank Lampard is still a possibility to step into that role.
Those weren't the only nuggets churned out by the rumor mill on Monday, either. See where Fire midfielder Alvaro Fernandez could be headed on loan. Plus, New York appears to be inching closer to announcing a head coach.
Farther west, Vancouver is being linked with a former Cardiff City striker other than Kenny Miller. Who might that be? The 'Caps are also rumored to be pursuing a young South African, and New England could be after a youngster from Antigua & Barbuda. Meanwhile, a former French national teamer is also pondering a move stateside, or so he says. (FRENCH)
There is no doubt, however, that former RSL forward Robbie Findley is out of contact. Once again a rumored target for Jason Kreis, Findley and Nottingham Forest terminated his contract by mutual consent on Monday.
It's about time for Union fans to accept that Carlos Valdes is headed south on loan, for the next year at least. Word came down Monday from Colombian side Santa Fe that the deal is done. Check out what Valdes had to say about his reasoning behind the move and his desire to use the move as a stepping stone to European pastures. (SPANISH)
On the flip side, the Portland Timbers newest Designated Player, Diego Valeri, is overjoyed to be headed to MLS and sees his future in the United States. (SPANISH)
It may have flown under the radar, but D.C. United's addition of 16-year-old forward Michael Seaton is news. He's the first player to sign with the league who was born after MLS' inception. Get all the details from the Washington Post's Steven Goff.
Finally, find out how new Akron coach Jared Embick plans to keep the ball rolling at one of the NCAA's most-successful programs. It certainly won't be easy.
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