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2016 MLS Superdraft: Players to watch, sleepers and stars

These ten guys are players to watch as their stocks should fall or soar on draft day

Michael Salazar, #4 on the list of falling stars
Michael Salazar, #4 on the list of falling stars
Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports

Very rarely MLS teams find an immediate starter who puts up 10 goals and 10 assists or leads a defense to a league leading goals against average, but teams do find players who can blossom into that and start as steady role players. Over the years, the Sounders rarely have been in a position to get a top draftee (low draft spot because we are a playoff team is a worthy trade off) and typically draft for need with players that will grow.

Seattle starts with five picks #15 (round 1), #27 (round 2), #35 (round 2), #54 (round 3), and #76 (round 4). While the Sounders should be expected to trade at least one of these, knowing Garth Lagerwey and the current roster situation, trading up for a GA player is fairly unlikely. Though Osvaldo Alonso may have value, a trade moving him for a top five pick and AM, appears distant.

Josh Yaro, Brandon Vincent, and Jack Harrison, the presumed top three, are not falling and are out of reach for Lagerwey. But there are a few stars that could slip like Cristian Roldan did last season.

Potential Falling Stars-

1. Jonathan Campbell- MLS and the SBNation mock drafts puts him at 4th but he did not had the best combine and made a couple of mistakes in 1v1 defending that coaches did not expect him to make. He's stock so far doesn't appear to be hurt by this by Roldan was in this position last year. Defenders will rule the draft but Campbell may fall and while he likely won't pass #10, that is within trading range.

2. Julian Buescher- MLS says he's going 12th, the RSL Soapbox snatched him at five in the SBNation mock draft. I don't think he gets past the 5th spot. Buescher was arguably the best player on the K-W United FC team that won the PDL last year. Sounders maybe have some extra knowledge with the U23s bowing out against his side in the semis and hosting the finals in Tukwila. All that being said, it'll take a big trade to get him. But if he falls, the CM is probably the best passer and has the highest ceiling of midfielders in the draft and is a GA. If he falls and the club can swing a deal with Orlando at 7 (best trade spot probably) then we'd be in business.

3. Fabian Herbers- One of the newest GA signings, the Hermann trophy runner-up was one of the most dynamic strikers in college last season. Herbers because he was a late add may have teams scared away because they didn't scout the Creighton forward as well as they should have. He isn't a true #9 or second striker but would fit with the Sounders in a 4-3-3 or as the backup to Clintfemi. Imagine signing Morris and having Herbers, two Hermann finalists on one roster, perfect. He'll probably make it to the 8-12 range, a much easier trade than the others.

4. Michael Salazar- Forget getting him at 15, the presumed 10-12 early on has seen his stock fall. Salazar hasn't hurt his stock with his performance but it just shows that people are not sure how he'll make an impact. The UC-Riverside striker has less big game experience than most these guys even though he's a full international with his native Belize. He's a true #9 but I'd expect him to fall out of round one and the Sounders could score him at the 7th pick in the second round. He has the talent of a top 10, but there is definitely uncertainty about him.

5. Omar Holness- The final falling star is another GA, this time the CM from North Carolina. The Tar Heel was deployed mostly as a CAM but isn't dynamic enough to be a true #10 for anyone. He could easily be the "attacking oriented mid" in a 4-3-3 or play a similar role to Sergio Mota with S2. He, like the others, is a top talent (as shown by the GA contact) but his lack of a clear position in the midfield will lead to his fall. A team like RSL who has established mids flanking him would be good but there isn't a team before or after them till SJ at eight and then LA at 12 that have a midfield that he can be the auxiliary in.

Impact Late Players-

1. Tsubasa Endoh- If you've read any combine recap article, you know his name. The midfielder was named was named MVP of the combine and while the winner hasn't always been a contributor in the MLS (even years later), he's still a player who should shine in the years to come. He'll fit perfectly in the USL year one. He can play out wide or in the middle and is a great attacker. He lacks long passing but is a great runner with and without the ball. Endoh is also regarded as a player with one of the highest soccer IQs. His combine stock pushes him into the 2nd round likely, from late third, but the Sounders should steal him at 27, if not then for sure at 35. Endoh will make an immediate impact with S2 if not as a sub with the First Team.

2. Josh Heard- Maybe it is because I am biased toward Huskies but Heard would fit into the club. A bit more defensive than Moberg and would play like a poor man's Pineda (faster but less adept at passing). He typically sat back in the UW offense but not like a CDM. He'll fall into the 3rd round for sure, maybe even 4th. He's not better than Jordan Schweitzer but he is better than Duncan McCormick played last year with S2. He'd be a draft for rights and stash at S2 for sure, but potentially highly valuable and a local connection.

3. Justin Bilyeu- Perfect draft and stash candidate. He is a 3rd rounder for sure but the LB/CB is a big guy who had a poor combine. He was expected to be a CB but is more comfortable on the wing and while he'll play very similar to Aaron Long, he has the instincts of a CB that Long just doesn't.

4. Duncan Backus- Big CB out of UCSB. Most big boards put him in the bottom half, roughly in the final tier. The SBNation mock draft has Columbus taking him at 31. The CB is not ready for the First Team but he's better than Nick Miele and could partner nicely with both Jimmy Ockford and Damion Lowe at S2. Best thing with Backus is he doesn't take up an international spot. The later in the draft, the more of the defenders are Int'ls and the Sounders shouldn't be wasting an Int'l spot on a player that is not ready.

5. Ben Polk- Polk comes in last because he's a wild card. Just like Buescher, he played for K-W United and Syracuse. The most recent MLS mock has him going to Seattle at 15 and the SBNation has him at 16 to Vancouver but he's had a fairly poor combine and I think his lack of a clear role in the offense will be his downfall. He was a true #9 with Syracuse but did not fair well against bigger CBs nor in the combine. On the wing in practice games he was better but still showed a lack of quick-decision making and was awkward on the wing. Polk plays a similar game to Andy Craven but Craven is a better player and was coming out of college. Polk could be the 3rd stringer for the wing spots in a 4-3-3 or a leader with S2 paired with Jones and Craven in a three-headed monster leading an S2 4-3-3.

There are plenty of more players and surprises and we never know what will happen. Last year, Toronto took former Sounders U23 CB Clement Simonin at pick #9 who was not even in the media guide. These players are the few that stick out as players that could make waves either in falling or jumping up the list. The Sounders should definitely target these ten players, if they can.

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