Armchair Analyst: Matt Doyle

2022 MLS SuperDraft positional big board

You've seen mock drafts and big boards here and elsewhere. I'm going to try to provide something a little different with this column, since MLS teams tend to draft for positional need rather than pure talent.

Certain positions will be prioritized. That's always been a fact in the SuperDraft.

So here we have a "positional big board," which I've thrown together based upon talks with folks in MLS, college soccer, other analysts and a whole lot of film.

One note: “GA” represents a player in the 2022 Generation adidas class.

Away we go.


After a relatively barren 2020, this draft is stacked with ‘keepers. Two should go in the top 10, and as many as three more by the end of the first round.

1. Patrick Schulte, Saint Louis

  • Range: 3-10
  • Generation adidas
  • Huge (he’s 6-foot-5) and with some USYNT experience, he might not get past Toronto FC with the third pick.

2. Roman Celentano, Indiana

  • Range: 3-10
  • Generation adidas
  • Some have him going ahead of Schulte, which wouldn’t be a shock.

3. Will Meyer, Akron

  • Range: Mid-to-late first-round
  • Was outstanding with the Zips after transferring over from Louisville.

It’s a thin draft for true fullbacks, though bear in mind that a lot of guys who come into the league as wingers end up as fullbacks after a couple of years. Here are three I think are very likely to make that switch:

1. Erik Centeno, Pacific

  • Range: 10-20
  • Generation adidas
  • A winger who’s been majorly productive in college, he profiles as a guy who will immediately be moved to fullback in the pros. Spent a bit of youth time in the FC Dallas academy, though most of his youth ball came with the highly regarded Sacramento Republic academy.

2. Justin Rasmussen, Grand Canyon

  • Range: 10-25
  • Big left-footer played more in midfield than on the backline, but could end up being a Cristian Gutierrez-type of fullback or even wingback.

3. O’Vonte Mullings, Florida Gulf Coast

  • Range: Mid-to-late first-round
  • The Canadian was mostly a wide attacker in college, but will probably be asked to switch to right back as a pro.
Center back

Consensus is this is a great draft for center backs, with an obvious top choice and then as many as nine other guys who could go in the first round.

1. Kipp Keller, Saint Louis

  • Range: 1-3
  • Generation adidas
  • Big left-footer with good athleticism and vision, most folks I’ve talked to say he’s atop their respective big boards.

2. Esai Easley, Grand Canyon

  • Range: 5-15
  • Another big, mobile center back who lives for the physical parts of the game. A throwback in that way.

3. Ryan Sailor, Washington

  • Range: 10-2
  • Basically the same as Easley – a big, physical CB who lives for the scrum. Might be a step slow.
Defensive midfield

Not a lot of d-mids go from the draft into significant roles – it’s just too complex a position at the pro level. But there are guys who could see minutes for sure.

1. Mohamed Omar, Notre Dame

  • Range: 5-20
  • I’ve spoken with teams that have him in their top 10, and some that don’t really rate him at all. Might end up being a center back long-term.

2. Haji Abdikadir, Louisville

  • Range: Late-first round to undrafted
  • He actually left Louisville and signed with San Diego Loyal for the second half of last season, and acquitted himself well in about 300 minutes.

3. Jake Arteaga, Portland

  • Range: Late-first round to undrafted
  • Arteaga is a former LA Galaxy academy kid who has a bunch of USYNT experience. There are questions about his physicality, but not about his pedigree or soccer IQ.
Central midfield

Lots of No. 8s in this draft, more of the “connects passes” variety than of the “ranges everywhere and breaks up play” variety.

1. Ben Bender, Maryland

  • Range: 1-10
  • Generation adidas
  • I’ve heard he might go first overall. I’ve heard if he gets past Charlotte, he might drop out of the top 10 entirely. Exciting!

2. Sofiane Djeffal, Oregon State

  • Range: 5-20
  • Classy French playmaker in college could end up working very nicely as a ball-dominant No. 8 in the right set-up.

3. Giovanni Aguilar, Cal State-Northridge

  • Range: Mid-to-late first round
  • Like Djeffal he was more of a playmaker in college, but will have to make the Cristian Roldan move from No. 10 to No. 8.
Attacking midfield

Lol, no attacking midfielders come via the draft. The closest would be Roldan, but he only played as a No. 10 last year because Nicolas Lodeiro was hurt. He has spent most of his career – and will spend most of the rest of his career – as a No. 8, with occasional cameos on the wing and as a No. 6.

Same goes with last year’s top pick, Danny Pereira, who was immediately used deeper for Austin FC than he had been in college. And after three years it’s clearer than ever that the top pick in 2019, Frankie Amaya is much more of a midfield ball-winner than final third creator.

So to be clear: There are no No. 10s in this draft. There are only “guys who played as a 10 in college and will have to prove they can do enough dirty work to play as a No. 8 in MLS.”


It’s a good crop of wingers, though as always, a bunch of these guys will be converted to fullback in the years to come.

1. Isaiah Parker, Saint Louis

  • Range: 1-5
  • Generation adidas
  • Maybe the highest upside in the draft? A wide player with a great left foot, it’s not wild to think he can be a Kevin Paredes type in MLS, toggling between winger, wingback and fullback. Full disclosure: I almost listed him as the top fullback prospect, and if I was running a team I’d draft him as a left back/left wingback.

2. Ousseni Bouda, Stanford

  • Range: 2-5
  • Generation adidas
  • Bouda’s an international (from Burkina Faso), which might hurt his standing a bit. But he’s such a talent it’s hard to imagine him dropping too far. A fantastic chance creator from out wide.

3. Farai Mutatu, Michigan State

  • Range: Early-to-mid first round
  • Another international (born in Zimbabwe), Mutatu split time between the wing and forward in both college and the USL, and he plays more like a wide forward than a true winger.
Center forward

There is no Daryl Dike in this draft, but there might be a Brian White or a Miguel Berry. The ability to make good runs scales, even if the vast majority of college forwards take a year or two to apply it in MLS.

1. Kyle Holcomb, Wake Forest

  • Range: Top 10
  • A goal machine both in college and throughout his youth, he comes from both a club (Pateadores) and a program (Wake) that have produced a ton of pros over the past quarter-century.

2. Thor Ulfarsson, Duke

  • Range: Top 15
  • Generation adidas
  • A true No. 9 from Iceland, Ulfarsson made headlines this year with some extreme sh*thousing in a win over UCLA. I like Ulfarsson a lot, though he may struggle to create separation against MLS defenders.

3. Simon Becher, Saint Louis

  • Range: Mid-to-late first round
  • Basically the same scouting report as Ulfarsson, except not a GA and not an international.