2016 MLS Media Mock Draft: First Round

2016 MLS Media Mock Draft: First Round
by TopDrawerSoccer
January 12, 2016

This week marks the arrival of the 2016 MLS Draft, as teams stock up on eligible college players to boost their rosters ahead of the upcoming campaign.

To provide a different perspective, this latest mock draft was completed by a writer from each team's market, providing a more in depth look at what  might happen in the first round on Thursday.

(Ed note: The mock draft was started prior to Fabian Herbers' inclusion in the GA class, which is why he isn't included in the first round below. Abu Danladi also wasn't included in the pool of potential GA players)

1    Joshua Yaro* Georgetown D  5-11  163
It's no secret that the Fire are looking to upgrade defensively and Yaro would seem to fit the bill. Like many clubs, the Fire see him as a right back in MLS rather than a central defender. They need help at both positions with last year's starters departed. GM Nelson Rodriguez has indicated that he's looking at underclassmen and coach Veljko Paunovic seems to be angling for athletic, versatile players. The Fire could also trade the pick with numerous teams angling for the first choice if Yaro isn't keen on a move outside. --Guillermo Rivera, Chicago Fire Confidential
2  Jack Harrison* Wake Forest  M  5-9  155
It's no secret that the Rapids have a number of needs going into 2016, but nothing more glaring than their lack of a creative force in the middle. Harrison will bring a passion and a motor that the Rapids did not have in 2015 and has a chance to be a starter from day one. He is versatile enough that he can play in the midfield or on the outside. It's not often that you can draft for need and take the best player available, and the Rapids can do that with the Harrison selection. --John Rosch, Burgundy Wave
3 Brandon Vincent Stanford  D  5-11  175
The Union has largely ignored the left back position for the better part four seasons. It's true that Fabinho had a decent year in 2015, but he began the season on the bench and still had some shaky defensive moments in 1v1 situations. Vincent can be a long-term starter for this team. He can play the left fullback spot with Fabinho or Chris Pontius at the LM spot in front of him. He can also play centrally, where the Union need reinforcement following the departure of Steven Vitoria and Ethan White. --Kevin Kinkead, CBS Philly/Philly Soccer Page
4  Jonathan Campbell North Carolina D 6-2 188
New York City were paper thin on defense last year -- and it showed. Goalkeeper Josh Saunders faced 188 shots in 33 matches, and the club gave up a league high 58 goals on the season. Much of that was due to the revolving door of talent at centerback.

If NYCFC are seeking anything in this MLS SuperDraft, it is a mature backline leader -- and Campbell fits that need. At 6'2" and 188 lbs., the burly Campbell brings the kind of size and mobility New York need, particularly now that Jason Hernandez is a year older and Shay Facey is off the club. Campbell is also a senior out of North Carolina, which would presumably mean a more mature product to the younger options in this year's draft. Yes, the club still counts Mena as a top centerback option and the addition of Ethan White certainly bolsters their defensive corps. However, within that field, Campbell has the tools to challenge for significant minutes this season.  --Dave Martinez, Empire of Soccer
5 Richie Laryea* Akron M 5-9 150
Real Salt Lake has one of the better attacking midfielders in the league’s history in Javier Morales but at 36 years old this season, the club will need someone who is capable of spelling him at times during the season. And who better to learn from for Laryea than Morales? With 11 goals and seven assists last year for Akron, Laryea is a proven winner who can succeed with the right talent around him. RSL has a veteran core, so Laryea will have time to progress and adjust and could even see time with the USL’s Real Monarchs SLC. --Matt Gaschk, RSL.com
6 Kyle Fisher Clemson  D  6-0 176
The Union need help at forward, but I'm "reaching" for Kyle Fisher at #6. Philly needs defensive structure more than anything, and adding a starting quality LB in Vincent, and a starting quality CB in Fisher is a good step towards rebuilding a defense that has struggled since the Peter Nowak days.  --Kevin Kinkead, CBS Philly/Philly Soccer Page
7 Omar Holness* North Carolina M  6-0  174
Two of the needs for Orlando City are depth in central midfield and on the wings. While Holness fills one of those areas quite well. His speed on the wing can be utilized on the right or left side, and he could also plug in up top if needed. Holness is also a Generation Adidas player, and Orlando City has shown it likes to draft talent it can keep off the books (Cyle Larin, Conor Donovan). With Larin graduating from Generation Adidas, Holness is a good fit to come in without dinging the salary cap and add depth behind Kevin Molino and Adrian Winter, while also giving Orlando City B an immediate dangerous presence on the wing. The 21-year-old has senior international experience with Jamaica and could be mentored by Molino in the early stages. Orlando City might also consider Julian Buescher, another GA player who would be the last piece of depth in central midfield. --Paul Tenorio, Orlando Sentinel
8 Jordan McCrary North Carolina D 5-9 165
The Quakes have added Chad Barrett and Simon Dawkins to bolster their attack, and the hope is that Innocent will be finally healthy after a lost debut season. What they haven't done, to this point, is address their defensive depth, which was so scant at the end of 2015 that defensive midfielders Fatai Alashe and JJ Koval were being pressed into emergency duty at center back.

Obviously, the backline cupboard has been emptied somewhat due to earlier picks, but McCrary would give the Quakes cover both at right back (where Marvell Wynne was basically an iron man last season) and left back (where 33-year-old Jordan Stewart, coming off a torn Achilles, is the top competition for incumbent Shaun Francis).

Georgetown defender Keegan Rosenberry could also be a possibility here. The real wildcard is Syracuse midfielder Julian Buescher, who is probably the consensus "Best Player Available" at this point and comes on a Generation adidas deal -- but plays a position of relative strength on San Jose's current roster. --Geoff Lepper, MLSsoccer.com

9  Ben Polk Syracuse F 5-9 175

It's hard to see a player in this draft class fitting into Toronto FC's game-day roster straight away, but Polk could be an interesting project. Another alternative would be Creighton's Fabian Herbers, if he ends up eligible for Thursday's draft. In terms of first-team additions, the Reds need attacking players for the future when you consider Herculez Gomez and Luke Moore might not be around much longer. Polk is explosive and scored a significant number of goals in a challenging conference. The Reds need to find value strikers not named Giovinco or Altidore.
--Kurtis Larson, Toronto Sun

10  Keegan Rosenberry Georgetown D  5-8  160

With defense undoubtedly the most obvious need for the Revs at the present moment, the club would be wise to select Georgetown defender Keegan Rosenberry with the 10th pick. Rosenberry is an attack-minded defender who could immediately step into the competition for the currently-vacant starting right back spot in Foxboro. His strengths are exactly what coach Jay Heaps looks for in a starting right back: speed, skill on the ball, and tactical awareness, all things the Revolution had in Andrew Farrell before he slid into his current center back spot. Oh, and the fact that Rosenberry wore the captain's armband as a Hoya certainly won't hurt his case, either.

Heaps has scouted plenty of Georgetown games in recent years, as evidenced by the fourth overall selection of Steve Neumann in 2014 and the signing of midfielder Tyler Rudy last winter, so the Revolution brass probably know full well what Rosenberry would bring to the table. Should the Union fail to put in a Homegrown claim on Rosenberry, a product of the club's Youth Academy, he could find himself with a great opportunity to make an immediate impact in New England.
--Brian O'Connell, NE Soccer Today

11 James Moberg Washington M 6-2  -

While the contract situations of Soni Mustivar and aulo Nagamura were recently resolved, the midfield ranks could still use a nice boost for Sporting KC. Moberg's ability to play a handful of different roles, coupled with his age (22) and experience (four-year starter, although he missed a lot of 2015 with an injury), could make him a candidate to contribute when league, U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League fixtures start piling up in the summer. --Andy Edwards, Pro Soccer Talk

12 Tony Alfaro Cal State Dominguez Hills D  6-2  190

The central defender is a known quantity to the LA Galaxy front office staff having played at nearby Cal State Dominguez Hills and would be an intriguing pick for the five-time MLS Cup champions with the 12th overall selection. The Galaxy need a center back after the departure of Omar Gonzalez, and Alfaro could be a defender for the future.

--Adam Serrano, LA Galaxy Insider

13 http://www.topdrawersoccer.com/media/article/?mediaId=23849 Julian Buescher* Syracuse  M 5-10  170

With Perry Kitchen on his way to Europe and Davy Arnaud's future uncertain, United need help in central midfield and Buescher might just be a pro-ready option at this spot. Needs to prove he's got the range and bite to fill Kitchen's large shoes, though.

--Charles Boehm, soccerwire.com/ussoccerplayers.com/MLSsoccer.com

14 Michael Salazar UC Riverside  F 5-11 165
Michael Salazar has the speed and quickness to help an MLS squad looking to add depth to the striker position. With Didier Drogba's imminent departure, the Impact needs to find more attacking punch up front even though Cameron Porter and Anthony Jackson-Hamel are already in the lineup and quite young. In a counter-attacking system, Salazar could help Ignacio Piatti and co. while having a physical presence in the box and able to support the midfielders when playing lower on the pitch to hold the ball.

Though, there is a big chance the Impact either trades up in the draft to get a better striker in the draft or plainly combine that pick with allocation money to get a MLS-ready striker that might be made available by other MLS clubs.

--Sofiane Benzaza, Mount Royal Soccer
15 Zachary Carroll Michigan State  D 6-3 187

If University of Washington product James Moberg, I expect Seattle to scoop him up to bolster midfield depth. If not, grabbing the highest-rated defender still on the board makes sense. Most of the Sounders back line either has injury question marks or is unproven at the MLS level. Adding some extra competition for spots could help.
--Matt Pentz, Seattle Times

16 Dennis Castillo VCU D  5-10  160
With the Whitecaps trading Steven Beitashour to Canadian rivals Toronto FC, and having a promising but raw talent in Costa Rican right back Jordan Smith as an option, head coach Carl Robinson would see Castillo as a player that adds further competition on the right side of the Whitecaps' backline. He comes with good pedigree after being named last year's PDL Defender of the Year with Portland Timbers U-23s. --Simon Fudge, Goal.com Canada
17 Andrew Tarbell Clemson GK 6-3 194

Getting a keeper in this draft should be one of the few priorities for FCD. Getting a guy that is a GA may be too hard to pass up. Pareja can get a quality guy that can develop behind Jesse Gonzalez and Chris Seitz during a busy year.
--Drew Epperly, Big D Soccer

18 Callum Irving  Kentucky GK  6-1 190
With Luis Robles firmly in command of the starting spot at GK, Santiago Castano falling short of expectations and Ryan Meara itching for playing time (possibly leading to a loan), the Red Bulls wiil target a goalkeeper in the draft. With Tarbell off the board, Callum Irving would make for a fine addition to the team's depth chart in goal. --Dave Martinez, Empire of Soccer
19  Cole Seiler  Georgetown  D 6-1 180
Crew SC can use defensive depth and Cole Seiler is a big player who would give depth along the back line with Tyson Wahl aging and Sergio Campbell still adapting to MLS (and taking an international slot). --Patrick Guldan, Massive Report
20 Todd Wharton Virginia M  6-0  170
The Timbers have plenty of depth at defensive midfield for the short-term, but still need to develop a more long-term succession plan at the position. Wharton showed well during his time with the Timbers U23 team last summer and I think Portland's familiarity with Wharton will make him an attractive choice. The club can continue to develop him at the T2 level this season. --Jamie Goldberg, The Oregonian

*-Denotes Generation adidas signee

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