Throughout the 2012 college season, TopDrawerSoccer.com will closely track some of the top candidates likely to make a successful jump to the pro ranks -- whether in MLS or elsewhere -- and track them on a weekly basis.
Here’s a look at some of the top performances from seniors and MLS Academy graduates from over the past week:
MLS SuperDraft Senior Highlight:
Machael David, UC Santa Barbara, Midfielder
Stats: 63 games played, three goals, 10 assists
Attributes: Mature, ready to play from first day, disruptive player
Professional comparison: Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders
SuperDraft prediction: Late first round
In the spring of 2011, the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos played two games against MLS teams. Machael David was the best player on the field in both games - no, not just the best Gaucho, the best player overall.
However, the David of today is not the same player. After battling through injuries for two seasons, the Ghanaian has struggled to stay out of the training room at UCSB. When he is on the field, he can be brilliant and the most influential player in college soccer, but getting back to 100% health has been his biggest battle.
This is the risk a team has to be willing to take with David. He is an imperfect prospect in the sense he is older than most draft picks, but he is a player who can step in immediately. There are agents and teams that covet his skillset, but keeping him on the field will be why he could slip come draft day.
Senior Pro Prospects
MF Carlos Alvarez, Connecticut: The attacking midfielder scored the game winning goal as Connecticut avoided a score on the road against Pittsburgh in a 2-1 win. Also started a 1-0 loss against Providence on Wednesday where the Huskies attack sputtered completely.
F Will Bates, Virginia: The senior striker continued to round into form as the season winds down, grabbing a goal as the Cavaliers climbed back from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 last Friday against Virginia Tech.
GK James Belshaw, Duke: Postseason play this fall looks like it may elude Belshaw and the Blue Devils, as Belshaw played a pair of 90 minute matches over the last week, losing 1-0 at home to Boston College and beating Davidson 2-0 on Tuesday evening.
F Julian Cardona, Penn State: The forward was in the starting lineup against Northwestern, but went just 38 minutes as the Nittany Lions pulled off a shocking win. Has just five goals on the season, hard to know if that will be enough to attract attention from MLS.
D Greg Cochrane, Louisville: Continued to excel from his left midfield spot, as the Cardinals won 1-0 over Villanova on Saturday to pick up a Big East Division title.
MF Paolo DelPiccolo, Louisville: Retained his spot in central midfield, dictating tempo and rhythm in another win as the Cardinals defeated
F Ryan Finley, Notre Dame: The speedy striker continues to find the back of the net for the Irish, scoring a hat trick in a 3-0 win over Providence last Saturday. He also scored twice in a 3-1 win over Marquette on Wednesday evening.
D Joe Franco, Cal State Northridge: Started both of the Matadors games over the weekend at outside back. With the 2-1 win over UC Irvine, Franco and Cal State Northridge are three points away from the top seed in the Big West South Division for the postseason.
GK Scott Goodwin, North Carolina: After conceding a goal for the first time in several weeks in a 1-0 loss to Maryland, the Tar Heel defense restored order with another shutout, a 3-0 win over Campbell.
MF Ryan Hollingshead, UCLA: Thanks to Pac-12 scheduling, UCLA had the week off from games as Jorge Salcedo’s side prepares for the Northwest trip this weekend.
F Hakan Ilhan, UNC Greensboro: Provided the game-winning assist in UNC Greensboro’s 1-0 win over Furman last week. The season has not gone to plan for the Spartans, but Ilhan’s still put up numbers (six goals, seven assists).
D Kory Kindle, CSU Bakersfield: Started and played in both of the Roadrunners’ games over the weekend. Kindle currently has six goals to his name this season, which is impressive for an outside back, but the lack of assists is noteworthy.
M Fernando Monge, UCLA: The Bruins did not play this week. Monge returns home this weekend to Seattle for an important clash against Washington on Sunday.
D Tommy Muller, Georgetown: The center back played 90 minutes in a 2-0 defeat of Seton Hall on Wedneday, as the Hoya back line picked up another shutout.
D Jimmy Nealis, Georgetown: The attacking left back went 90 minutes in a 2-0 win over Seton Hall on Wednesday, picking up an assist.
MF Andrew Ribeiro, Creighton: Logged 90 minutes in Creighton’s 1-0 win over Bradley last week. The versatile Jay has made his home at defense for the last few games as Creighton has strung together three shutouts in a row.
F Devon Sandoval, New Mexico: Scored three goals and added two assists against UNLV on Friday. Sandoval has 12 goals and five assists in his senior campaign.
F Blake Smith, New Mexico: Smith had two assists in the 11-0 win over UNLV on Friday to push his season tally to 11 in 14 games.
MF John Stertzer, Maryland: After playing the full shift on Friday night, a 1-0 win against North Carolina, Stertzer was supposed to get a rest in Tuesday’s matchup against Lehigh. But when the Terps struggled a bit, Stertzer came off the bench in the second half to help steady the ship.
F Chris Thomas, Elon: Continues to enjoy a brilliant season, topping the NCAA Division 1 goal scoring charts with 20 goals. Scored in his latest outing on a penalty kick, as Elon won 1-0 over Wake Forest on Tuesday night.
MLS Academy Products
MF Ian Christianson, Georgetown (Chicago Fire, Senior): The imposing central midfielder played 77 minutes and scored the game-winning goal on Wednesday against Seton Hall.
MF Wil Trapp, Akron (Columbus Crew, Sophomore): The holding midfielder continues to do all of the little things. He rarely shows up in the box score, but his link play between the defense and attack is superb. Played in both of Akron’s wins over the last week, a 2-1 defeat of West Virginia and a 1-0 win against Ohio State on Tuesday -- where Trapp actually did pick up an assist.
D Jalen Robinson, Wake Forest (D.C. United, Freshman): After going the full 90 minutes in Wake’s 3-1 defeat of NC State on Saturday, didn’t see the field as the Demon Deacons lost 1-0 to Elon Tuesday evening as he was out with an illness.
D London Woodberry, Maryland (FC Dallas, Senior): Remained a starter in both of Maryland’s games last week. Had a sketchy turnover that result in a Lehigh when he was dispossessed of the ball in midfield.
MF Daniel Garcia, North Carolina (FC Dallas, Freshman): Garcia was relegated to a substitute’s role in the Tar Heels’ 1-0 loss on the road to Maryland last Friday. He returned to the starting lineup, played 73 minutes an chipping in an assist in a 3-0 win against Campbell.
D Mikey Ambrose, Maryland (FC Dallas, Freshman): The left back continues to play extremely well, now the incumbent starter as senior Taylor Kemp's status is up in the air after undergoing sports hernia surgery. Added an assist in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat of Lehigh.
F Gyasi Zardes, CSU Bakersfield (LA Galaxy, Junior): Contributed three goals and an assist in the 4-1 win over Houston Baptist on Friday. He was shut out against New Mexico on Sunday. Zardes is tied for third in the nation for goals scored this season.
MF Scott Caldwell, Akron (New England Revolution, Senior): Found the back of the net in a 2-1 win over West Virginia last weekend, and also was influential against Ohio State on Tuesday night despite not finding the back of the net.
MF Bryan Ciesiulka, Marquette (Chicago Fire, Junior): The junior continues to impress, going 87 minutes, helping to keep the ball moving in a 2-0 win over Seton Hall.
D DeAndre Yedlin, Akron (Seattle Sounders, Sophomore): After struggling against the Mountaineers -- Yedlin was yanked off the field after picking up a yellow card late in the game -- he was freed up a bit more in Tuesday’s matchup against Ohio State, going the full 90.