The MLS SuperDraft is fast approaching. Minnesota United will have three selections on January 19, one in the first round (5th overall) and two in the second round (28th and 41st overall). Because I am an official Soccer Genius*, I was put on the clock just as the Loons’ front office will be to make the right selection.
Before I reveal my amazing selections, I must first note that the pressure is extraordinary, especially when the player who was number one on my list was selected two picks before in a shock choice. Even if a prospect is stolen right out from under United, there should still be plenty of solid options. Now, the picks:
First Round--5th Overall: Jon Bakero | F | Wake Forest
Yeah, I bashed his performance in the first combine game. Yeah, I think he’s a raw player who will need adjustment to MLS level. But he’s also coachable and comes with a lot of potential. Plus, Adrian Heath is kinda good at coaching young forwards (see Abu Danladi, Cyle Larin).
Bakero’s had an impressive senior year at Wake Forest. He was the top offensive player on one of the NCAA’s best offensive teams, scoring 16 goals while also providing an additional 14 assists. He also beat out a class of impressive candidates (like Stanford’s Tomas Hilliard-Arce) to win the MAC Hermann Trophy, annually given to the best collegiate soccer player in the country.
Bakero reminds me of Johan Venegas (who is now on loan to Costa Rican club Alajuelense). He’s listed as a forward, but could drop back and play as a second forward or number ten. His assist numbers show that he’s able to create chances in general, not just convert on them. His awareness is fantastic—he clearly know what is going on around him. Similarly to Venegas, Bakero can be prone to some unnecessarily fancy footwork that is more about keeping possession rather than doing something with it. His lack of athleticism may make the transition difficult.
Bottom Line: Impressive college career and potential, though hard to gauge how he’ll look at the top level.
Second Round—28th Overall: Brandon Bye | F/RB | Western Michigan
I have to admit that I love this guy. Anybody who is listed as both a forward and a right back is pretty cool. That’s not all the makes Bye a special player though. He can officially be considered the best athlete in the combine class after being the only player to finish in the top ten of all three athletic tests.
He did concede a penalty on the second day of combine matches, but it was a weak foul and his keeper saved the PK, so we can just gloss over that.
Bye definitely likes to get forward, that’s undeniable. He’s probably best deployed as a wing back in a three- or five-back formation, but since Minnesota could use a little depth at right back, Bye is a great player to give a shot to.
He also plays for local club Minneapolis City.
Bottom Line: Versatile potential, provides depth at key position.
Second Round—41st Overall: Mark Segbers | D/F | Wisconsin
In case you haven’t figured it out, I think players listed as both forwards and defenders are pretty cool. And since Wisconsin’s Chris Mueller was very quickly unavailable in the draft, I figured it was necessary to take someone from the Badgers (ugh).
I’ll admit I don’t know Segbers as well as the other two, but I think he’s another good option to provide depth in defense and maybe a moment of brilliance or two. He did score five goals and notch seven assists in his senior year, so he’s got offensive skill. He’s also athletic, finishing in the top ten of both the 30-meter dash (.01 behind Bye) and the vertical jump (.5 inches ahead of Bye).
Bottom Line: Fairly unknown, but has athletic potential to be a dynamic player.
*My sources say it’s true, but it’s not confirmed**.
So there ya have it. Questions? Comments? Concerns? Chuck ‘em all in the comments section below.