Draft talk is heating up now that Major League Soccer announced Tuesday the 2011 Adidas MLS Player Combine rosters.
The combine, to take place in Ft. Lauderdale, Jan. 8-11, is the final tune-up for players seeking to be drafted into the MLS. It will give coaches and scouts the opportunity to watch the players over a few days of concentrated games. The 2011 MLS SuperDraft takes playce Jan. 13.
For the Sounders, it’s all about the midfield. It now appears likely Seattle could have a highly skilled midfielder or defender available by the time they get the 11th pick of the MLS SuperDraft. As usual, trade and draft rumors will be flying from now until the culmination of the draft. Anything can change.
But the fact two creative central midfielders could be available by the time coach Sigi Schmid and his staff make a selection is a tantalizing prospect.
I like Anthony Ampaipitakwong, a midfielder from Akron University, who helped the team win a National Championship in 2010. He is quick, technical, creative and has a big engine. He is the type of quality prospect who could fit well with the Sounders out wide and as an attacking center-mid.
The other is Michael Farfan, from North Carolina. Some scouts say the attacking midfielder has the quality and the intangibles to compete immediately for a starting position. I think he is a player who could thrive under the Sounders system and is the kind of player the Sounders need to bolster their midfield.
The other rookie who could contribute, and who could be available by the 11th pick: Jalil Anabiba, also from North Carolina. He is an athletic and formidable centerback who could start on most MLS teams. His inclusion would add to a talent of riches and ratchet up the competition for spots at centerback. Some mock drafts have Anabiba marked as a top 5 draft pick.
Will the Sounders select a keeper? I don’t think so. The pressure is to win the MLS Championship this season. I think Zac MacMath, of Maryland, who is considered the top keeper prospect, will get grabbed earlier. The Sounders don’t need a keeper this year.
The Sounders need to re-fill a depleted midfield tank. With the loss of starting midfielders Nathan Sturgis and Sanna Nyassi to the MLS Expansion Draft, the Sounders still need skilled players to push for starting positions. Farfan and Ampaipitakwong could be the best players available to help Seattle now as well as develop into quality starters over time.
Here are some mock drafts to ponder as players, agents, scouts and coaches head to the player combine and then onto the draft.
In addition to the initial list of Division I collegiate seniors and Generation adidas signings invited to the combine, MLS has added seven more collegiate seniors and five non-collegiate players to the list of participants.
These players are among the more than 70 top pro prospects that will showcase their talents at the player combine at Central Broward Regional Park in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Earlier, the MLS Competition Committee approved a League initiative to sign non-collegiate players for participation in the adidas MLS Player Combine and the SuperDraft.
Non-collegiate players that have signed include: midfielder Paolo Cardozo (Uruguay), forward Victor Estupinan (Ecuador), midfielder Marlon Ganchozo (Ecuador), midfielder Martin Rivas (Argentina), and midfielder John Rooney (England).
Who should the Sounders pick? What are your thoughts? Should non-college players be allowed in the draft?