We're just nine days away from SuperDraft 2014 in Philadelphia and FC Dallas currently sits with the #5 overall pick as well as the fifth pick in the third and fourth rounds of next Thursday's draft. To kick off our SuperDraft coverage on FCDallas.com, we caught up with NCAA soccer expert Travis Clark of TopDrawerSoccer.com to talk 2014 draft and where FCD could be looking to go. Be sure to make Top Drawer Soccer one of your bookmarks as we head towards next week's draft, it's always a great source of information for the college and Academy game.
First off, how strong do you see this 2014 draft class? It seems like it may be missing superstar talent but has plenty of depth.
I think it’s pretty similar to years past, but the one variation may be lack of big time impact players. There will be a lot of depth with guys who make squads, but don’t necessarily become key contributors right away. When you look at the Generation adidas class as well, it’s pretty weak because of the league’s tendency to rely more on Homegrown players. So the best underclassmen in college are, for the most part, tied to MLS Academies which reduces the amount of impact players. That being said, there’s still plenty of quality out there for teams and coaches that do their homework.
The MLS Combine is coming up this weekend, how much stock do you typically put into the combine?
It’s kind of a mixed bag. You can’t base final decisions on players watching them play scrimmages with players that, for the most part, they haven’t played with before because guys that are making runs and looking for balls and looking to play balls won’t really know anything about their teammates except maybe shaking hands before the game. So you can’t put too much stock in on-the-field stuff, but I think there’s value in it off the field with players getting to know teams, coaches and coaching staffs because coaches may not have had that time during the regular season when they’re scouting games getting to know players as much.
FCD has the #5 pick which should allow them to find a nice player. In the past, FCD has hit big with defenders like Zach Loyd, George John, Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman, but that’s left them with a defense that doesn’t necessarily need another piece. What kind of attacking talent could you see FCD looking at?
That’s a tricky question because the transition between college and MLS is really difficult to project when looking at attacking players because there are so many intangibles to work through such as, is the system set up for a certain type of player to score, the defending isn’t as good in college and there’s more time so sometimes [college success] doesn’t translate. FC Dallas could go a number of different ways.
Patrick Mullins, the forward from Maryland, could be there. Pedro Ribeiro is an interesting guy as a left-footed midfielder who can play probably just about any position you need whether it’s left winger or in the middle. You could go the Generation adidas route. Schillo Tshuma isn’t going to play much this year, but he’s a raw talent that if developed the right way could end up being a pretty decent forward or right winger. So it’s going to be dictated on who goes before that, but there should be a forward option or two especially if Mullins isn’t off the board.
Mullins is a guy that seems to make some sense for FCD as a team that could use another forward with the departure of Kenny Cooper. Do you feel like there’s a good chance that Mullins will fall to #5? After the College Cup many were projecting him #1 to D.C. United.
I think so just because teams tend to grab the Generation adidas contracts off the board and right now there’s four GA players and could be six or seven before the draft. So say those guys are there, the top four teams are going to look for that because not only do you get a player who is talented, but you also get a little bit of salary cap relief. So someone like Mullins could be there and you can throw in his ability to play on the left flank, he’s also a good character guy who’s going to work hard for his team to become a better player.
Another player who seems to possibly fit for FC Dallas to add central midfield depth and the Generation adidas contract is Louisville midfielder Marlon Hairston, what can you tell us about him?
He’s another guy and he’s not going to be as attack-minded. He plays as more of a deep lying midfield role for Louisville, breaking up plays, winning the ball and starting attacks. He’s a good passer and pretty tidy overall. Maybe he doesn’t have a lot of upside and I don’t know if he can contribute so much right away, but maybe it’s going to come down to which direction the coaching staff decides to go whether it’s a player to help right now or somebody to bring along throughout the season that might be ready by the end of the season. He’s definitely a solid player, but probably needs a little bit more seasoning than someone like Mullins.
Give us a name or two as a potential sleeper maybe not from a power conference but a guy maybe like Devon Sandoval who maybe wasn’t a household name in the college ranks but came in and was a major contributor to the Western Conference Champions at RSL.
There’s not a lot of guys out there looking for impact right away, but Mackensie Pridham from Cal Poly is a guy who seems pretty polished as a dangerous attacker from the Big West. Another guy who isn’t invited to the combine, a Frenchman named Achille Campion who’s another dangerous attacker who struggled with injury a little bit, but if he can keep himself healthy, he can probably score some goals at the MLS level if he makes it on a team. Mamadou Doudou Diouf from Connecticut is pretty talented and had a down year because of injuries, but could end up slipping down the draft board, so he’s somebody who could become a little bit of a sleeper.