The MLS college player draft enters the speed round next Tuesday. The league will hold its annual Supplemental Draft via a conference call. Essentially Rounds 3-6 of the annual college draft, the Supplemental Draft lacks the pomp and circumstance of the two round Super Draft. No cameras. No waiting for interviews with bated breath. Just a chance for teams to find a few hidden gems and for players to get a shot at the brass ring of an MLS career. But for teams who do their homework, the Supplemental Draft can be a treasure trove. Here are some players to look out for next Tuesday.
Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen
Some players were left holding their dreams in their hands after the Super Draft. Touted as Super Draft picks and then still left standing when the music stopped, some players find themselves wondering just how far their stock has fallen. Here are four players who will probably come off the board fairly early Tuesday.
Eric Schoenle, CB, West Virginia - Schoenle was a borderline GA candidate the past two years and was seen by many as one of the top 3 Senior Center Backs in this draft class. Yet, he wasn't chosen Thursday. He's got good height but is rail thin and the big question surrounding him is can he cut the physical nature of being an MLS CB? He's got a good soccer brain so look for someone to take a chance on him developing the bulk to play the position.
Ashton Bennett, FWD, Coastal Carolina - A speedy forward with sneaky instincts, he may have fallen farther than any other candidate. He had a tough combine and the 4-3-3 that many of the Combine teams adopted made it hard for some forwards to separate themselves from the pack. Still, forwards with a nose for goal don't grow on trees and someone will certainly take a chance on Bennett in the Supplemental Draft.
Jose Gomez, MF, Creighton - Sometimes being a good college player doesn't mean that you have the tools that professional scouts value. Hermann Trophy finalist Jose Gomez is one of those players that MLS scouts had trouble projecting into the league and his draft stock plummeted because of it. He has led the Blue Jay attack into two consecutive College Cups, but this year he disappeared during parts of the game against IU and there are questions about his consistency. But then again people wondered how Doug Flutie and Russell Wilson would ever play professionally as well.
Will Bates, FWD, Virginia - Blowing out your knee will tend to dampen your draft stock even if you are a talented forward. Bates shouldn't last long on Tuesday and is a classic example of the risk and reward prevalent in the Supplemental Rounds.
By the Way, He Will Cost Your Team an International Slot
Last year Rose fell into the Supplemental Draft precisely because he was an International player. Many MLS teams simply don't have the International roster spots available to spend a draft pick on International players. Consequently these players have their draft value reduced and many will fall into the Supplemental pool. The Sounders do an excellent job of clearing their International slots so here is an area where they can really shine if the right player is available. Here are two International players who will warrant watching Tuesday.
James Belshaw, GK, Duke by way of England - Belshaw was the class of the Combine keepers. He organized his back line, showed good positioning and made some stellar saves. Look for someone to give him a look in the Supplemental draft though probably not the Sounders.
Alex Isern, MF, Winthrop by way of Spain - Not only is Isern an International, but he's 25 years old, and played for a small college. Yet, even with all of those strikes, he had a very intriguing Combine. The Combine isn't a make or break event for most players, but it is a chance for players from smaller colleges to step in and show what they can do against a different level of competition. Isern acquitted himself well. I expect that someone will take a chance on this Barcelona native.
Service Trumps Soccer
Sometimes life takes precedence over soccer. Many people were shocked when FC Dallas chose Ryan Hollingshead with the first pick of the second round. Hollingshead has stepped away from soccer to help his brother build a church. This would normally be exactly the kind of pick you would expect a team to make in the Supplemental round. The team controls the player's MLS rights when and if they decide to try their hand at being a professional athlete. Another player with a service commitment who wasn't chosen Thursday may very well get taken on Tuesday.
Kevin Durr, MF, Air Force - As a cadet, Durr owes his country for his education. But his skills in the midfield may earn him a draft nod for when he finishes his military commitment.
Sometimes Players Really Belong in the Third Round
A number of players who rate relatively highly in the college game are not in the elite status of the top 38 players available. Or were close in skills to some of the players chosen, but didn't quite fit with the teams who were making the picks. These players fall into the Supplemental Draft. Here are three players who are likely to find their way into the "3rd round."
Joe Franco, RB, Cal State Northridge - Many considered Franco to be the top Senior RB in this year's draft before he injured his ACL in the conference championship game and missed the NCAA playoffs and Combine. Someone will probably still spend a Supplemental pick on Franco.
John Gallagher, LB, Penn State - A little rougher than some of the other LBs in this year's draft but worthy of a pick. This really was an unusually deep draft at LB.
Chris Thomas, FWD, Elon - Not as pedigreed as the SuperDraft forwards but Thomas had a very respectable Combine. Potentially a good option in the Supplemental Draft for a team looking for competition at Forward.
And finally here are three players with local connections who will likely come of the board on Tuesday.
Machael David, MF, UC Santa Barbara - Machael graduated from High School in Gig Harbor and played for the Tacoma Tide. Many mock drafts had him as a late 2nd round pick and Top Drawer Soccer put him at #20 on their final Big Board. A defensive midfielder who had a blah Combine, look for David to come off the board early Tuesday.
, MF, UW - (Note: this is not the Whitecaps Ben Fisk) Fisk was another central mid player with strong defensive skills who was one of the leaders on the Husky squad this year. Slotting into the #44 spot on the Top Drawer Soccer Big Board, Fisk is another player liable to go fairly early on Tuesday.
Anthony Arena, CB/LB, Wake Forest - Arena is from Kenmore and played last summer for the Sounders U23 squad. Slotted in the Top Drawer Big Board at #59, the folks at Top Drawer also had him listed as Seattle's second round pick on their final Mock Draft. Someone is liable to take a flier on him in the later rounds Tuesday.
Look for the Sounders to draft the best player available in the Supplemental Rounds. They will lean heavily on their own knowledge. This is where their team Combine, U23 squad and West Coast scouting will likely pay dividends.