The 2021 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas will be unlike any other.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACC was the only major conference to play competitive games in the fall. That left seniors with a much smaller shot at making an impression on technical staffs at the next level.
But there is still intriguing talent available, highlighted by three players signed to Generation adidas deals, plus a smattering of seniors that have a long enough track record to earn a look. While there doesn’t appear to be a Daryl Dike-esque talent in the mix, solid players are out there.
Check out the top 10 prospects among eligible players for next Thursday's draft.
10. Luther Archimede (F), Syracuse
College Career: From a production standpoint, Archimede underwhelmed in college soccer. He’s made 21 appearances, scoring four goals and adding one assist. Yet few players are as intriguing to watch on draft day, as he could be picked in the top 10.
Scouting Report: While the numbers weren’t there for Archimede at Syracuse, he possesses upside and pedigree few other players offer. A hard-working forward that can play through the middle or out wide, he has the physical attributes to succeed in MLS. Having arrived at the ACC program from the Sochaux Academy in France, Archimede has Concacaf experience as well, playing for the Guadeloupe U-20s during the 2018 World Cup cycle. There’s potential here that the right team could certainly unlock.
9. Matt Di Rosa (LB), Maryland
College Career: Di Rosa’s breakout season came in 2018, when he earned a starting nod for the eventual national champions. During the 2019 campaign, he showed himself to be one of the top left backs in the NCAA. In three seasons, he’s made 46 appearances for Maryland.
Scouting Report: While not the flashiest of players, Di Rosa showed enough consistency and reliability to suggest he could be an asset in MLS. He’s not an off-the-chart athlete, but reads the game well, knows when to get forward and is adept with both feet. When Di Rosa does get into the final third, he can cause trouble with his crossing.
8. Rio Hope-Gund (CB), Georgetown
College Career: The anchor of Georgetown’s 2019 national championship side, Hope-Gund’s three seasons in college soccer saw him make just 36 appearances. While that’s a smaller sample size, he’s a massive part of one of the best programs in the country.
Scouting Report: A mobile defender that can use both feet, Hope-Gund showed well against Daryl Dike in the 2019 title game. Teams could be concerned about his size and how that translates to MLS, as he’s listed at just 6 feet tall. However, Hope-Gund is still capable of mixing it up with bigger, stronger and more athletic attacking players.
7. Aime Mabika (CB), Kentucky
College Career: Even in a small sample size, Mabika showed pro potential during Kentucky’s six matches during the Fall 2020 season. He was a star during the 2019 campaign, earning Conference USA Player of the Year. The defender made 62 appearances in four years with the Wildcats.
Scouting Report: Size is the obvious thing to see about Mabika, who is listed at 6-foot-6. He moves relatively well, but will need to prove that he can handle facing better players in MLS. He’s good enough with the ball to play for a team that likes to possess, but if he struggles to handle the speed of the game, getting picked by a team that sets a deeper defensive line could benefit him.
6. David Egbo (F), Akron
College Career: A talented forward, Egbo’s breakout year came in 2018, when he scored 13 goals and added five assists as Akron made the NCAA final. The striker didn’t play in the fall of 2020, and has 21 goals and 13 assists from 56 games played.
Scouting Report: Another attacking player that could be deployed on the wing or up front, Egbo battled through ups and downs in 2019. Consistency in front of goal will be key for him as he makes the transition to a higher level. Egbo showed that he could play part of a possession style with his back to goal and is a threat to get in behind the opposing defense.
5. Nabi Kibunguchy (CB), UC Davis
College Career: The Elk Grove, California, native began his career in 2016, before suffering a season-ending injury that allowed him to take a redshirt. He’s evolved into one of the best defenders in the country, peaking during a strong junior season in 2019. Across four seasons, he’s played in 52 games as a defensive midfielder or central defender.
Scouting Report: A tall and imposing player at the back, Kibunguchy has shown enough ability on the ball to slot into the No. 6 role. There are a few intriguing center back options this SuperDraft, with Kibunguchy showing in his junior season that could lead a stingy defense. He has a good motor, covers ground well and could develop into a potential MLS starter if he finds consistency.
4. Daniel Pereira (CM), Virginia Tech – Generation adidas
Daniel Pereira in action for Virginia Tech
College Career: Two seasons at Virginia Tech saw Pereira emerge as a top central midfielder in the ACC. Due to the shortened campaign in 2020, the Generation adidas signing finished his career with 26 appearances in Blacksburg, showing real quality from central spaces.
Scouting Report: During his time with the Hokies, Pereira was a do-everything midfielder, picking up the ball in various spots to progress play forward. He displayed a nose for goal during the 2019 campaign, scoring five times and adding five assists. Carving out a clear role will be key to his MLS career.
3. Josh Bauer (CB), New Hampshire
College Career: One of the best center backs in college soccer during his time at UNH, Bauer was the back-to-back America East Defender of the Year in 2018 and 2019. Last summer, he actually left school and signed a short-term contract with Birmingham Legion (USL Championship) that included a chance to enter the draft.
Scouting Report: The clear top central defender on the board, Bauer highlights a relatively decent crop of center backs. He doesn’t possess huge upside, but is solid in everything he does, whether it’s one-on-one defending, distributing from the back or mobility. The New Hampshire native made three USL Championship appearances in the fall and has the tools to be at least a very good rotation player in the league.
2. Calvin Harris (F), Wake Forest – Generation adidas
College Career: An England native that arrived in the NCAA by way of New Zealand, Harris evolved into a frontline force for Wake Forest. He made 32 appearances, scoring 10 goals and setting up five more during his two seasons with the Demon Deacons.
Scouting Report: The Generation adidas signee is a rangy attacking player that can play out wide or up front. He showed real improvement in Wake’s possession-oriented program, scoring sensational goals while also setting up teammates in front of goal. Harris loves to take defenders on via dribbles and can be deadly on the counter, while he’s a solid finisher and arguably has the most upside.
1. Philip Mayaka (M), Clemson – Generation adidas
College Career: One of the top midfielders in Division I the past two seasons, Mayaka (image at top of the page) is part of the Generation adidas class. Named the ACC Freshman of the Year in 2019, he made 32 appearances for the Tigers, scoring two goals and adding eight assists.
Scouting Report: A rangy, box-to-box midfielder, Mayaka would have been a top pick in the 2020 edition of the draft had he signed a Generation adidas deal at that point. The Kenya native can cover ample ground and is effective on the ball in tight spaces. He’s got a good range of passing and contributes on both sides of the ball.