On Friday, we featured the defenders that figure to be prominent in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and noted that, according to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Travis Clark and J.R. Eskilson, the strength of the draft class comes in the central players rather than those on the flanks. A similar reprieve can be said of the midfielders.
Though the position doesn’t have the top-end talent of the defenders, the strength comes in the middle of the field, while there are few that contribute from the wings. However, there is some diversity among those players in the middle.
“I think there’s a good balance between defensive midfielders, center midfielders and attacking midfielders,” said Eskilson.
While there aren’t as many players that jump off the page and scream to be picked, there are some who could potentially contribute in the right situation.
“There are some good players out there, but I’m not sure there’s a lot of high-end,” Clark said. “They’re not as exciting in terms of their potential, but they might be able to come in and help right away.”
Two of the top players are 19-year-old Louisville product and Generation adidas signee Marlon Hairston and Coastal Carolina standout Pedro Ribeiro.
In just two seasons with the Cardinals, Hairston continued his promising youth career that saw him train at one point with West Ham United and was the 2011-12 Offensive Player of the Year at the IMG Academy. While still young, Eskilson compares him to a current Sounders FC midfielder.
“He’s very similar to Shalrie Joseph in his build and he plays with this swagger,” Eskilson said.
Ribeiro, meanwhile, combines size and savvy. At 6-foot-4, he has the ability to play a very dynamic game while still possessing the technical skill to provide cover in many different roles. At Coastal Carolina, he was a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy as a senior when he had 11 goals and seven assists, capping a consistent four-year run for the Brazilian.
“He’s someone who can come in and play a number of spots right away,” Clark said. “He’s a big kid, but he’s got great ball skills, can score goals and can do a bit of the defensive work as well.”
Akron’s Aodhan Quinn, who played during the summers with the Sounders FC U-23s also has a versatile game that may make him attractive at the pro level. Another Hermann Trophy semifinalist, Quinn is the son of former U.S. National Teamer Brian Quinn and has thrived in many different midfield roles in his collegiate career.
“Quinn is better as an attacking midfielder and better with the ball at his feet in the center of the field because he can pick apart defenses, but he can probably play wide too,” said Eskilson.
Sounders FC added to its midfield depth with the signing of Homegrown product Aaron Kovar and could also use its second Homegrown signing from the 2014 class, Sean Okoli, in a wide role. However, Seattle could still be looking to add depth to the midfield with one of its four picks in Thursday’s draft.
Players to watch
Marlon Hairston, Louisville, 39 games, 6 goals, 5 assists.
JJ Koval, Stanford, 74 games, 6 goals, 5 assists.
Aodhan Quinn, Akron, 82 games, 17 goals, 24 assists.
Pedro Ribeiro, Coastal Carolina, 86 games, 31 goals, 26 assists.
Jared Watts, Wake Forest, 73 games, 7 goals, 10 assists.
Follow @travismclark and @jreskilson on Twitter for great college soccer coverage.