Guest columnist Drew Epperley is the founder and editor of WVHooligan.com and a noted MLS SuperDraft expert. His blog covers everything MLS and U.S. Soccer. You can follow him on Twitter @WVHooligan.
The old adage “defense wins championships” rings true with FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman. On Tuesday, Hyndman told FCDallas.com that defense would be a priority in Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft. With only one draft selection – the No. 11 pick - Hyndman will be looking to beef up his defense.
Many draft experts believe this year’s draft is very top heavy, with the bulk of the talent at the attacking positions. That bodes well for FC Dallas at No. 11 to snatch up one of the top defenders. Here are some players that could be available when it comes time for FC Dallas to make their selection tomorrow.
Andrew Jean-Baptiste, DF, UCONN: One of the members of the Generation adidas class, Jean-Baptiste is as athletic as they come. He has the physical tools to be a very solid center back in MLS. He will need to improve his ability on the ball, but his Generation adidas tag makes him an attractive choice.
Matt Hedges, DF, UNC: Arguably one of the best center backs in this draft, Hedges is said to be the most MLS-ready and could fight for a starting role should George John jump across the pond to England. Hedges is a skillful defender and could be a prime target on set pieces thanks to his strong vertical ability.
Austin Berry, DF, Louisville: A strong, physical center back that was a NSCAA All-American two straight years at Louisville. He helped anchor the Cardinals defense, which picked up 37 shutouts over his four year college career. He is also a threat in front of goal. Berry scored 11 goals and five assists during his time at Louisville.
Hunter Jumper, DF, Virginia: Finding fullback talent in any draft can be difficult, but Jumper has stood out as one of the best prospects at the left back position. He can provide depth behind Zach Loyd and give Hyndman some flexibility with his lineups.
Should Hyndman buck the defensive pick and take a gamble with an offensive player, there could be a few gems available. Hyndman has stated he would like someone with experience and the following players certainly fit that criteria.
Ethan Finlay, FW, Creighton: The Hermann trophy runner-up had a strong Combine, including a hat-trick on the second day of action. He was a pure striker for the Blue Jays but could transition into a wing role at the MLS level. He has both the experience and versatility that Hyndman values in an attacking player.
Casey Townsend, FW, Maryland: Arguably the most impressive player at the Combine. His quickness and ability to find the back of the net is exciting to watch. He could be the guy that helps open up the attack for targets like Brek Shea, David Ferreira or newcomer Blas Perez.
Visit FCDallas.com all week and follow @FCDallas on Twitter for continued coverage of the 2012 SuperDraft.