10 Players to Watch From the 2015 MLS SuperDraft
The 2015 MLS Superdraft is less than 48 hours away, and teams are maneuvering to draft the best and brightest from NCAA Soccer.
The league has already signed a dozen college seniors to preliminary contracts, and that dozen already includes four NSCAA All-Americans. The talent pool in American collegiate soccer has proven their worth over the course of the grueling NCAA schedule and battled in the College Cup before Virginia was crowned National Champions.
The four month NCAA schedule lasts from late August through post-season play in December, forcing players to squeeze a season’s worth of matches into a short period. After four seasons in this environment, these players have proven that they are ready to be tested against professional opposition.
Several of these players could go on to become household names and may compete for a place on the United States Men’s National Team if their development continues.
These future superstars are now waiting to be selected by one of the 21 MLS franchises.
The first round begins with expansion teams Orlando City and New York City before moving down the ranks eventually reaching league champions, the Los Angeles Galaxy. The teams all have different positional needs and plans for the future and will have to take all of this into consideration as the talent pool is narrowed with each subsequent pick.
Thursday afternoon will be an exciting few hours for the future of MLS soccer.
Khiry Shelton – Forward
Khiry Shelton had a fantastic senior campaign to end his collegiate career with Oregon State University. Shelton was the standout performer on the Beavers and netted ten goals on the year. Perhaps his strongest asset is his ability to involve his teammates, exemplified by his 12 assists during the year. He was eventually awarded Pac-12 Player of the Year for his efforts. Shelton’s 6’3’’ stature and instinctive finishing ability will make him a nightmare for opposing defenders for years to come.
Andy Craven – Forward
Andy Craven’s goal scoring skills were on display throughout the NCAA season and College Cup. Craven led his Tar Heels to a quarterfinals appearance in the NCAA Tournament and finished the year with 15 goals. Craven had a knack for scoring important goals and netted 8 game winners during the campaign. Craven was a Mac Hermann Trophy finalist, and it is impossible to miss Craven both because of his hairstyle and work ethic.
Leo Stolz – Midfielder
It remains uncertain where Leo Stolz will play his professional football, but there is one thing that is certain, he is undeniably talented. Stolz was trained as a midfielder by 1860 Munich and has already turned down a contract offer from the club and a Generation Adidas contract with the MLS. Stolz is a dynamic playmaking midfielder who has spectacular passing ability. Stolz netted nine goals and added 6 assists, and helped UCLA battle all the way to the National Championship game before falling in penalty kicks. He is a leader on the pitch and could be a future captain for a team that decides to take him.
Nick Besler – Midfielder
Fans of the United States Men’s National Team are already familiar with Nick’s older brother Matt, but you should definitely get to know younger brother too. Besler is a central midfielder who excels in the defensive aspects of the game, Nick’s contribution extends beyond the stat sheet. Nick led the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to a National Championship in 2013, but was bounced from this year’s tournament by eventual champions Virginia. Besler is a solid contributor who would do well in a midfield alongside expansive passers.
Oumar Ballo – Defender
The University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers were the most surprising team in the College Cup this season, thanks in large part to the defensive efforts of Oumar Ballo. Ballo led the Retrievers defense that did not concede a goal during the first four rounds of tournament play. They finally conceded in the Final Four against eventual champions Virginia, but not before Ballo thoroughly demonstrated his capabilities. Ballo has all the physical gifts necessary to play as a central defender in the MLS.
Connor Hallisey – Midfielder
As an attacking midfielder, Connor Hallisey excelled for Washington this season when paired with striker Darwin Jones. Hallisey has a mind for attacking play and used this to his advantage this season when he smashed home 9 goals and assisted 12 more. Hallisey was a Mac Hermann Trophy semifinalist and was a NSCAA Second Team All-American. Hallisey is one of a dozen players already signed by MLS.
Alex Bono – Goalkeeper
It takes a lot for a goalkeeper to be named a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist, and Alex Bono has been phenomenal during his junior season with Syracuse. Bono posted 12 shutouts in only 21 matches this season, making a total of 67 saves. He allowed only 12 goals during the entire campaign, which allowed Syracuse to reach the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Bono has already received an invite to the United States National Team camp and could be another in a long line of successful American goalkeepers.
Andy Bevin – Forward
During his senior season, the 5’9’’ New Zealand prospect ended his collegiate career with a campaign to remember. Using his phenomenal work rate and finishing ability he netted an impressive 13 goals, while assisting 8 more for the West Virginia Mountaineers. Bevin’s best was on display at the tail end of his collegiate career, and he is ready to do the work necessary to succeed as a professional.
Ramon Martin Del Campo – Defender
Ramon Martin Del Campo is a name to familiarize yourself with. After a spectacular display with the San Jose Earthquakes PDL team against the USMNT U-23s, Ramon earned an invitation to the U-23 team camp. Del Campo has the 6’2’’ frame necessary to perform in aerial challenges and has the defending ability to compete with professionals. His interesting journey to soccer success will continue now that he has signed a contract with the MLS.
Eric Bird –Midfielder
Eric Bird was part of the driving force behind Virginia’s relentless road to the National Championship. Bird finished his senior year as a champion after leading the Cavaliers in goals scored with 5. Along the way he battled nagging injury during his senior year, but has recently described by MLS scouts as having “excellent feet”. Bird is a skilled midfielder that would be a great addition for several clubs in desperate need at the position.