Before the MLS SuperDraft starts at 9 am PT on Thursday, experts and analysts from around the league will do their best to project the first 19 picks that will make up the first round. Some will be very close, others miles apart, but each adaptation of the mock drafts leaves the possibility of several different options falling to Sounders FC with the 13th overall pick.
Here is a look at some of the picks that the experts have Seattle taking with that first round selection.
Nikita Kotlov, midfielder, Indiana
Ives Galarcep, SoccerByIves.net.
“Sigi Schmid is a coach who isn’t afraid to reach for a player he likes, as we’ve seen in past drafts, and we could see Schmid being interested in a quick left winger like Kotlov, who can provide service and also score goals. This is early for Kotlov to go, but Schmid has done this before.”
Kotlov was twice a second-team All-Big Ten selection and earned first-team honors in his sophomore season. He’s a big-game player, as evidenced by his game-winning goal in the 2012 College Cup final to help Indiana win the NCAA title. In 85 matches, he tallied 26 goals and 14 assists, including a standout junior season when he was working in tandem with Eriq Zavaleta and had nine goals and four assists to his credit. Last season, he had five goals and three assists in 22 matches.
Ben Sweat, defender, South Florida
“With the departure of Marc Burch, Seattle needs reinforcements at left back. Sweat is the best option at that spot in this draft and arguably one of the very few options. The hard-working defender enjoyed a great career with South Florida.”
A forward during his high school days in Palm Harbor, Florida, Sweat moved to left back and has exceled at South Florida. His best seasons going forward came in 2011 when he had five assists and in 2012 when he had two goals and two assists. However, in his senior season, he led a defense that posted eight shutouts in 21 matches, toppling UConn in a shootout in the American Athletic Conference championship to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Schillo Tshuma, midfielder/forward, Maryland
Simon Borg, MLSsoccer.com
“The Sounders don't have many wide players and Tshuma has the skill and speed to be effective there. The GA tag means they can afford to bring him along slowly.”
A product of the prolific Maryland attack, Tshuma is a Generation adidas player loaded with all of the measurable, but is still a raw talent that will need nurturing to reach his full potential. He had 16 goals and three assists in 49 matches over two seasons for the Terrapins. He moved to Alexandria, Virginia, from Zimbabwe in 2008 as part of a partnership between Grassroots Soccer and his high school in the D.C. suburb. Grassroots Soccer is the charity started by Tommy Clark – who is the brother of UW coach Jamie Clark and the son of Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark – and where former Sounder Roger Levesque spent a few months working in 2013.
Joey Dillon, midfielder, Georgetown
Matthew Doyle, MLSsoccer.com
“The Sounders need depth in defense – especially left back – but the cupboard is truly bare behind Ozzy Alonso at d-mid. Dillon isn't going to wow anyone, but he's smart and steady.”
Joey Dillon, midfielder, Georgetown
Nate Sulat, MLSsoccer.com
“Dillon doesn’t get a lot of love, but Georgetown gave up 10 goals in 21 games this year in large part because opposing teams never saw the ball. Dillon was a big part of that, not only helping win the ball back when GU lost it, but also connecting it with the attacking unit.”
Dillon is the definition of a defensive midfielder. In four years at Georgetown, he had just one goal and four assists while consistently starting for the Hoyas throughout his collegiate career. While forward Steve Neumann may get all the recognition – and he justly deserves a lot of it – Dillon was superb in his own right in his senior season, winning Big East Midfielder of the Year honors and earning a first-team All-Big East selection.
What do you think of the expert picks? Who stands out to you among the players who could be available at No. 13?