The MLS Superdraft - Forwards & Outside-Mids

Bumped to front page

I’ve recently being doing a series on potential draftees for the Sounders in the 2011 Superdraft you can click through to see my previous fanposts on GKs and fullbacks/center-mids). I decided to put forwards and outside-mids together for a couple reasons. 

First, in Sigi’s system, the outside-mids are responsible for a lot of the team’s offense and are often inverted wingers that come into the center to expose the defense. For example, it is quite common to see Zakuani moving from his outside-mid position to the center to spark an attack or take a shot. Therefore it makes sense to look at players who could be successful in both the outside-mid and withdrawn forward positions. I highly recommend malcontentjake’s reviews for more info on positions, formations and tactics.  

Second, all four of the forward and outside-mid spots on the field are well covered. At target forward we have our DP and veteran leader Nkufo.  Montero has the withdrawn forward spot locked down. Our third DP, Fernandez, hasn’t locked down a position yet, but prefers the right wing spot while Zakuani has the left wing spot for the foreseeable future. Behind them are a plethora of players well above the skill level of a new rookie and in need of playing time (e.g. Fucito, Jaqua, Montano, O’Brian White, etc.). Here's the SAH post expansion draft depth chart.

In other words, I don’t think that these positions are top priority for the Sounders in the coming draft. That said, there’s still a good chance that the F.O. has identified a couple of players they’re interested in and might want to draft to fill out their reserve team. Combined with a wealth of 2nd round picks…there’s an excellent chance that we see a new player fighting for playing time at one of these positions. I don’t envy the young man.  

The Sounders have the 11th, 21st, 27th, 29th, and 47th picks (although the 27th pick could magically morph into the 9th pick if Ljungberg decides the weather in Scotland is too rainy and signs with Chicago before the draft).  Also, Jeremiah Oshan has confirmed that the 4th round of this year’s draft will be moved to the Supplementary draft on January 18th.  Below are some names I’ve researched off the web that seem like they could be good fits.

DARLINGTON NAGBE – Nagbe is another Akron product who has signed a G.A. deal with the MLS.  He was originally born in Liberia.  He’s speedy, skillful, has great balance and can play both the withdrawn striker and outside-mid role.  He holds the ball well, has the ability to accelerate past defenders as he turns and can create chances for teammates.  He would be an excellent fit for the Sounder’s system if he wasn’t projected by almost everyone to be selected with one of the first five picks.  

OMAR SALGADO – Salgado was the first G.A. signing for the MLS and it’s easy to see why.  At 6’3" he’s a lock to play the target forward role. He has good feet and could be an impact player in the MLS for a long time. He’s a first five pick talent and is probably unlikely to drop to the Sounders.

COREY HERTZOG – Hertzog is a solid forward, recent G.A. signing and a first round talent. He led the NCAA in PPG this past year with a 2.09 (20 goals and six assists). Hertzog is fast, fearless and a clinical finisher. Philadelphia tried unsuccessfully to land him as a Homegrown Player so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s taken by Philly with their fifth pick. Just for fun…check out this video clip of his goal against Gonzaga.  

WILL BRUIN – Bruin is a strong, physical striker with good size and strength. He logged a 2.05 PPG average (18 goals and 5 assists) as a junior for the Indiana Hoosiers. Bruin is regarded by some as the best finisher in the draft and also works hard to provide some defensive pressure in the attacking third. However, he may need more time to develop his technical skills to be able to create his own shot at the MLS level. Bruin has already signed a G.A. contract and will likely go early in the first round.    

MICHAEL NANCHOFF – Akron head coach Caleb Porter has nothing but high praise for the Zips’ left winger and recent G.A. signing.  He has an excellent work rate, good passing skills and a nice cross. While Nanchoff hasn’t been getting as much press as some of his other teammates at Akron, he’s been instrumental for their title run. If he drops to the Sounders at the 11th pick he would make an excellent long-term back-up for Zakuani on the left side.  

JUSTIN MERAM – Three months ago, Meram was a long-shot to make the MLS. However, the University of Michigan senior hit a patch of excellent form in the last few weeks of the season and the college cup. He ended the season with a 1.83 PPG (17 goals and 8 assists). Currently, many pundits are projecting him to go in the late first round and a good combine could push him further up the draft board.    

JASON HERRICK – Herrick is one of the better seniors in the draft and will probably go in the late first round or early second round. He’s quick, has good strength and is a good finisher. He can hold up the ball, but needs to work on creating his own shot. However, Herrick is a good team player who does the little things that set-up the rest of his team to score. He is being projected right in the sweet spot for the Sounders in the late first round to early second round.

ASHLEY MCINNES – McInnes could be an excellent fit for the Sounders system as a withdrawn striker or winger. McInnes has excellent technical skills, turns tightly, is difficult to dispossess and can change pace quickly to get past defenders. His biggest knock is his small size at 5’8" and 155 pounds. I think he would fit in well as added depth for the Sounders. McInnes, who was born in Scotland and is a product of the Aberdeen system, would likely take an international slot.  

RYAN KINNE – At 5’8" Kinne’s not the tallest striker and he’s not the fastest. However, what he lacks in the physical end, he more than makes up with hard work, athleticism, craftiness, vision and a well-honed ability to see the game. He’s versatile enough to play withdrawn striker or an outside-mid in the Sounder’s system. Kinne was widely considered one of the best seniors last season which made it puzzling that he didn’t receive an invite to the MLS combine. However, he’s definitely on the Sounders radar as he was invited to the Sounders Vegas combine. I like him as a strong sleeper pick in the 2nd round.           

LEVI HOUAPEU – Houapeu’s biggest asset is his blazing speed. Unfortunately, the rest of his game needs a lot of improvement, primarily his ability to see and link up with his teammates in the offensive third. The descriptions I’ve read remind me a lot of an earlier Nyassi – someone with the speed to cause defenders problems, but not enough soccer awareness to take advantage of the problems he causes. He’s also the product of a very small school and will need a strong combine to land a spot in the second round.     

CJ SAPONG – Sapong is a player whose athletic prowess will probably translate into a late round draft pick despite plenty of technical shortcomings. He’s relatively quick, has good size and is strong in the air. He looks often for the open shot and does have a blistering shot when provided an opening. CJ has played mostly as a CAM for James Madison University. However, he might be more suited to playing as an outside midfielder or a striker in MLS.

Below are some players I also wrote up in the fullback/center-mids post who could also play on the wings or in the withdrawn forward slot. I’ve reposted them for completeness. Brayan Martinez, Matt Marcin and JC Banks were also invited to the Sounders Vegas Combine.  

ERNESTO CARRANZA – Carranza is a skilled senior striker/midfielder who played college soccer for Sacramento State. He has very good technical skills and can take on multiple defenders with the ball at his feet. Carranza has good vision and can find open teams after drawing defenders to him. Much like Montero, he likes to work in open space, and his success at the next level will depend on his ability to find seems in the opposing defense in which to work and set up teammates.

MICHEAL TETTEH – Michael is a young, speedy left back/left winger from Ghana who currently plays for UCSB. Sound like anyone who just left Seattle after the expansion draft? He currently plays in an area of the country Sigi is familiar with and probably has coaching connections. However, injuries are a concern. Those concerns do mean that the Sounders could have the opportunity to pick him up in the second round.

BRAYAN MARTINEZ - Brayan was a senior leader in the midfield for Seton Hall this past year. He was born in Uruguay before immigrating to NJ. He had a standout freshman year and has played significant minutes every year. Martinez is small for an MLS central midfielder, but has good ball skills and a passing touch, and could possibly play on the wings in MLS.

MATT MARCIN -Senior Matt Marcin was the spark in the midfield and the most dangerous offensive option for Providence College. He started on the wings his Freshman year before moving into a more CAM role. He has a low center of gravity, turns quickly and has good technical skills. However, he could have problems with the size and physicality of the MLS if he plays in the center of the pitch rather than the wings. However, it's not clear if he has the speed to play on the wings in the Sounder's system. He sounds similar to Fucito, but I haven't seen anything to indicate he has the same nose for goals as Fucito.   

JC BANKS - I wasn't able to find much on this senior who played midfield for the Green Bay Phoenix. His bio looks similar to the other midfielders at the Vegas combine. He’s a smaller, quicker CAM who will probably be undersized in the MLS for a central midfield role, but he probably has the speed to play on the wings for the Sounders.

FanPosts only represent the opinions of the poster, not of Sounder at Heart.