In a draft that features few “sure things” where often a team’s success or failure can’t truly be defined for several years, the 2013 MLS SuperDraft crop of forwards may possess the most promise at the top of the board, but also the most questions marks.
While the forward group doesn’t contain anyone that stands out as the top overall pick – that honor likely goes to defender Andrew Farrell – there are several that will give the team that selects them reason to be optimistic.
“There are guys that have quality traits. A lot of them have good resumes and the chops to do it, but when you place them in a pro environment it will be interesting to see what happens,” said Travis Clark of TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Take Eriq Zavaleta, for example. Zavaleta, the Generation adidas forward from Indiana, nabbed 28 goals in 46 games over two seasons, helping Indiana win the national title last month. As a sophomore, he had 18 goals and four assists in 24 matches.
However, like top overall pick Andrew Wenger in 2012, Zavaleta may pose a conundrum for the team that picks him. A proven goalscorer at forward at the college level, Zavaleta grew up playing central defense and many believe it still may be his strongest position.
On the other side of the coin is Ryan Finley. The Notre Dame forward started his college career at Duke, where he scored 28 goals in two seasons before transferring to Notre Dame, where he continued at the same pace with 28 more goals in his junior and senior seasons. What makes his time with the Fighting Irish remarkable, though, is that he did it all while not starting a single game in his final two seasons.
The speedy Jason Johnson scored goals in bunches, but was the competition at Virginia Commonwealth enough to prepare him for MLS? The same can be said for Deshorn Brown, who played two years of junior college before his one year at Central Florida.
Teams drafting forwards will have options on Thursday and the right choice could mean wonders.
For more on the forward prospects for the MLS SuperDraft, read TopDrawerSoccer.com’s story here.
Players to watch
Jason Johnson, Virginia Commonwealth, 60 games, 28 goals, 10 assists
Eriq Zavaleta, Indiana,46 games, 28 goals, 9 assists
DeShorn Brown, Central Florida, 16 games, 13 goals, 3 assists
Erik Hurtado, Santa Clara, 76 games, 33 goals, 20 assists
Ashton Bennett, Coastal Carolina, 47 games, 39 goals, 16 assists
Kekuta Manneh, Gambia, Did not play in college.
Ryan Finley, Notre Dame, 78 games, 56 goals, 14 assists