Next Thursday, Major League Soccer will hold the 2014 MLS SuperDraft in Philadelphia, as the 19 teams in the league will pick from the top college talent around the country in the four-round draft.
Over the next few days, with the help of JR Eskilson and Travis Clark from TopDrawerSoccer.com, we will provide some resources to guide you as the SuperDraft approaches, starting at goalkeeper.
The goalkeeper position could very well start and end with University of Connecticut junior Andre Blake. The Jamaican born standout was remarkable in his three seasons with the Huskies, posting a 46-10-12 record with a 0.41 goals against average. However, it’s not just the statistics that make Blake stand out from the crowd.
“He’s just got freakish athleticism. He’s made some of the best saves I’ve ever seen a goalkeeper make in the college ranks,” Clark said. “He needs to learn how to organize his backline a little bit better, but he’s clearly the best goalkeeper at the college level. He’s impressive and looks like he would fit at the next level.”
Even some of the best collegiate goalkeepers can struggle early in their professional careers. However, Eskilson doesn’t think the pro ranks will fluster Blake, who is already getting looks from the Jamaican National Team.
“I think he does everything well. He’s good with distribution, he covers a lot of ground, he’s good on crosses,” Eskilson said. “One of the things he’s shown at UConn is that he can play at the MLS level tomorrow.”
Beyond Blake, there is a dropoff in pro-ready players, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t talented players available.
Kees Heemskerk played in the Ajax Youth Academy in his native Holland before playing collegiately at College of Charleston. While he wasn’t as statistically impressive as some – with a 1.28 goals against average and 27-26-9 record – he has the size at six-foot-four and skill to learn at the top level.
Additionally, Saint John’s goalkeeper Rafael Diaz and Virginia Tech’s Kyle Renfro both have good qualities, but how well those translate to the pro game will determine just how long their careers will last.
“It’s always hard to project how goalkeepers are going to do,” Clark said. “It’s so rare to see a rookie goalkeeper step up from the college draft.”
Players to watch
Andre Blake, UConn: 68 games, 29 goals allowed, 37 shutouts
Kees Heemskerk, College of Charleston: 62 games, 82 goals allowed, 15 shutouts
Rafael Diaz, St. John’s: 62 games, 62 goals allowed, 32 shutouts
Kyle Renfro, Virginia Tech: 63 games, 85 goals allowed, 14 shutouts