By "scouting", I mean watching completely unrelated and irrelevant videos like this one of Kofi Sarkodie, who I think could be one of the top names on January 13th.
In any case, the furthest most people are looking ahead at the moment is the two days until Christmas. However, in a little over two weeks, MLS will get it's next uplifting injection of bright potential with the 2011 SuperDraft. It's a whole new generation of talent, and this year's selection pool looks deep and ripe for the picking.
Who will be the next Steve Zakuani?
Right now, MLS is almost ready to release the roster for this year's Generation Adidas contracts. If you don't know, Generation Adidas contracts are like guarantees for a player's success, giving young soccer prospects the ability to choose to fulfill their dream of professional soccer without having to force them out of college. It's also actually America's one and only positive contribution to the world of soccer.
Unfortunately, at the same time Generation Adidas is a bit of a crap shoot. Because GA selects prospects in college and under, there are always a few 16, 17, and 18 year-olds, and just in general it takes a couple years before you see whether these prospects develop into the players we all want. Very rarely, about one or two a year, do we get a Steve Zakuani who can make an immediate impact in a senior side. And only about once a decade do we get a Landon Donovan. The SuperDraft will be January 13th, 2011, two weeks into a fresh decade, and this could very well be the year.
Which is why with the draft coming up and with so much on the line for MLS teams, a look at the GA prospects is a good place to start, but it really isn't even a dip into the pool. This year's draft will also see a lot of hopeful college seniors, and if the depth of the GA list is any indicator, there are definitely a few gems available. The interesting thing with GA contracts is that they are usually reserved for underclassmen, so a lot of graduating seniors who would deserve a GA spot in terms of ability and potential won't necessarily get it just because of their year. And because of this, great seniors like UNC's Michael Farfan and Maryland's Casey Townsend ("That is a GREAT goal!") will probably sit through some GA picks. Right where Seattle wants them.
This leads me to the point of draft pick numbers, and more importantly Seattle's picks.
This year, Seattle has pick #11 (first round), #21 and #29 (second), #47 (third), and #65 (fourth). Also, if you remember, in our "trade" with Chicago, we got Chicago's conditional first OR second round pick. It's kind of complicated, considering Freddie is shopping clubs in Europe, so I'll let Josh explain it.
So here are the scenarios:
A) If Chicago does not re-sign Ljungberg, then Seattle receives the 27th overall pick (the Fire's second-round pick) in the 2011 draft.
B) If Chicago does re-sign Ljungberg before the SuperDraft, then Seattle receives the 9th overall pick (the Fire's first-round pick) in the 2011 draft.
C) If Chicago does re-sign Ljungberg after the SuperDraft, then Seattle drafts under Scenario A in 2011. Also, Sounders FC will swap its second-round pick in 2012 for the Fire's first-round pick in 2012.
So, assuming Freddie acts like himself and bitches out of MLS, we would get pick #27.
The point of this is, those seniors in that link up above? You can bet that more than a few of those guys will slip through to the second round, right into our three second round picks. So, which guys do we keep our fingers crossed for? Honestly, it's hard to say. But, I can tell you I would LOVE to be in Florida. Hmm, Fort Lauderdale sounds nice right now.
Sigi and Co. get three days to scout, and then get two days to make their list. That sounds like a lot of work, and it's a job I don't envy. However, this is one of those things that as a coach, you don't show up to Combine empty-handed and write down names you like. You can bet that they'll be reviewing every single name beforehand, and then at Combine crossing names off. So, preparation and advanced scouting will be key, both for the Combine and SuperDraft.
That's where we come in. To the Tubes!
Generation Adidas List (as of 12/22)
Darlington Nagbe (Midfielder) - touted as the next Steve Zakuani
Kofi Sarkodie (Defensive Wall)
Zarek Valentin (Defender)
Michael Nanchoff (Midfielder)
Perry Kitchen (Defensive Mid) - unconfirmed, reportedly in negotiations
Will Bruin (Forward)
Corey Hertzog (Forward) - unconfirmed, might be signing homegrown with Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath (Goalie)
Omar Salgado (Forward) - the next Chicharito?
Other possible names include:
UCSB Slug MF Michael Tetteh
UCSB Slug MF Luis Silva
Notre Dame MF Dillon Powers
California GK David Bingham
Maryland MF Matt Kassel
MLS is also reportedly looking to sign these guys to fight off overseas suitors:
Akron MF Anthony Ampipitakwong
California D A.J. Soares
Duke MF Cole Grossman
North Carolina MF Michael Farfan
North Carolina D Jalil Anibaba
North Carolina MF Stephen McCarthy
For full list of GA Roster Watch: 3rd Degree