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Who the experts think Sounders will pick in the 2018 MLS Draft

To put it bluntly, there isn’t a ton of consensus.

MLS: Combine
Brandon Bye, one of the players the Sounders are tied to
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been almost a month since MLS last held a draft, so it is high time for another one. The MLS SuperDraft, or the draft to end all drafts, is Friday at 8 a.m. The Sounders have the 22nd and 45th picks in the draft with rounds three and four happening on Sunday. While whoever Seattle picks will likely play the year at Tacoma in the USL, it’s still the chance to get some young talent that hopefully can grow into a first teamer.

There’s a consensus building around center backs Joao Moutinho and Tomas Hilliard-Arce being the top picks. Across the eight MLS mocks we looked at, Seattle has picked seven different players. Only one mock draft, SB Nation’s, took on the second round so we’ll focus on the first round options for Seattle.

Alex Roldan, Midfielder, Seattle:

I think you knew this was where it was starting. Roldan the younger was taken by Sounder at Heart in the SB Nation mock draft. The Score also picked Roldan staying in Seattle and trading in his Redhawks jersey for a Rave Green one.

As Dave noted with his choice to pick Alex Roldan, he has been around the club as much as the NCAA allows and adds a lot of things similar to his brother on the field. The Score sees it as, you aren’t finding immediate first-team talent this late, so make Cristian happy and take his brother.

Highest Selection: 18th to Sporting KC. After impressing at the Combine, MLS’ Matt Doyle has Roldan becoming the heir to Roger Espinoza’s throne.

Alex Winn, Winger, North Carolina:

In version one of the MLS mock draft, Doyle has Seattle drafting the former US U17 forward. Winn has speed but it isn’t a given whether he is a winger or a striker. He fell from the first round in Doyle’s second draft after a poor combine. If Seattle looks past that, they get a forward who can play across the attacking band and has pace.

Highest Selection: 12th to the San Jose Earthquakes. Both Bleacher Report and SBI have the Tar Heel going to the Quakes with the main reason being he doesn’t carry an international designation. A lot of players in this draft will need a international spot and that might bump Winn’s stock up on draft day.

Brandon Bye, Fullback, Western Michigan:

You’ll definitely be forgiven for not knowing who Brandon Bye is. After a great season at right mid for the Broncos of Kalamazoo, he is sitting at the end of round one. While he played mid in college, he projects as an attacking right back in MLS. Seattle doesn’t need one with Oniel Fisher naturally being a right sided player and Kelvin Leerdam having the position on lock down. That said, the draft is more about asset collection at this point and you can never have too many good fullbacks.

Bye fell from 20th to 22nd in Doyle’s second iteration and the MLS mock drafter is the only one putting him in the first round.

Highest Selection: 20th to the Houston Dynamo. After not blowing people away at the combine though, Doyle dropped him to 22. No other draft puts Bye in the first round and SB Nation’s second round draft put him at 28th.

Ricky Lopez-Espin, Forward, Creighton:

The Blue Jay is listed at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds and he had a penchant for finding goals in his last two years at Creighton. Top Drawer Soccer sends him to the Sounders with the expectation he would get his reps down in Tacoma.

Lopez-Espin isn’t the fastest striker in the draft (or anywhere close) but he is good with the ball at his feet and Seattle does need more depth up top. He could push for a first team spot on need alone.

Highest Selection: 9th to the New England Revolution. SBI has the Revs taking him in the second of their back-to-back picks early in the first round. The Revs need to replace Kei Kamara and Lopez-Espin represents a big body forward they could use. He’s had a good combine but his lack of speed leaves a lot of questions.

Chris Lema, Midfielder, Georgetown:

He isn’t the most physical but he is a gifted passer in the center of the park. Lema was part of the Red Bulls academy but with their current CMs, they passed on signing him. SBI has the Sounders taking him as depth for Roldan/Alonso pairing especially without glaring needs to fill. If Seattle takes him they get a midfielder with the tools to be the next Cristian Roldan but lacking some of that physicality. If they can find a way to build that up, a Roldan-Lema midfield could be the post-Ozzie pairing.

Highest Selection: 18th to Sporting KC. Every other draft has Lema going between 18 and 21, so it’s possible that he falls to Seattle but he’s a player Sporting KC or Columbus may want (he fits their systems well) and he may not be around for Seattle to pick.

Marcelo Acuna, Forward, Virginia Tech:

Bleacher Report is the only draft projecting Acuna to go in the first round. Acuna only played two years with Virginia Tech but got into double-digits both years, scoring 23 goals in 42 matches (all starts) and assisting on another six. He hasn’t made a splash at the Combine but he does have Costa Rica U20 National Team experience going for him.

Acuna is a player that like Winn could probably play anywhere in Seattle’s attacking band but would likely spend the season with Tacoma.

Highest Selection: 22nd to the Sounders. In the SB Nation mock he went 38th but the former Saprissa academy player is likely somewhere between those two picks.

Other Players to Note:

Justin Fiddes, Fullback, Washington: The other player with Seattle ties in the draft, Fiddes is projected as a top 15 pick by most estimates. A speedy left back that most see going to FC Dallas. If he falls, maybe Seattle grabs him, as they should be very familiar with him.

Ben White, Defender, Gonzaga: Likely a late second round or day two pick but he is the only other Washington based player projected to be a day one pick. He has two Gonzaga teammates eligible for the draft.

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