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:
Blake Smith, New Mexico, Forward
Stats: 48 games started, 63 games played, 13 goals, 18 assists
Attributes: Great change of pace, elusive in tight spaces, makes smart decisions
Professional comparison: Chris Pontius, D.C. United
SuperDraft prediction: Second round/supplemental
The comparison is not entirely accurate, but there are parts of Smith’s game that remind many of Chris Pontius in college. He has a dynamic burst with the ball at his feet that leaves defenders in the dust. He knows how to get to the endline and whip a cross into the box to set up goals especially this season where he has 12 assists on the year. His finishing is not quite at the level of Pontius, but during his junior campaign he did put 10 goals into the back of the net.
The stats are there for Smith, but he is better than the numbers reflect. There has not been an outside back this season that has been able to contain the Lobos winger for a full 90 minutes. Defensively, there is some work to do in getting him ready for the next level, but there is enough potential to overlook that part of his game.
Senior Pro Prospects
MF Carlos Alvarez, Connecticut: In his final regular season home game in college, Alvarez found the back of the net in a 2-0 win over Providence. The Big East tournament is next up for the attacking midfielder.
F Ashton Bennett, Coastal Carolina: After not finding the score sheet against South Carolina in a mid-week match, Bennett scored two goals and added an assist in a 4-1 win over Radford.
MF Mitchell Cardenas, Campbell: Cardenas had a goal and an assist against UNC Asheville on Saturday. He is third in the nation in total assists with 11 on the season.
MF Ryan Hollingshead, UCLA: Scored the lone goal in UCLA’s 1-0 win over Washington on Monday. Hollingshead strike puts the Bruins back in control of the Pac-12 heading into the final weeks of the season.
D Taylor Kemp, Maryland: The senior left back continues to be sidelined with a sports hernia issue.
M Fernando Monge, UCLA: Started both of UCLA’s games in the Northwest over the weekend, as the Bruins moved closer to the Pac-12 title with two wins.
D Tommy Muller, Georgetown: Started and played 90 minutes in a pair of wins over Seton Hall for the Hoyas, without conceding a goal in either game.
D Jimmy Nealis, Georgetown: Kept his left back spot, adding an assist while helping the team keep a clean sheet during last week’s wins against Seton Hall.
MF Dillon Powers, Notre Dame: It’s been a busy week for Powers, as he played 110 minutes in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against the Golden Eagles, a few days after going the full 90 on Wednesday of last week.
F Devon Sandoval, New Mexico: Scored his 13th goal of the season in a 3-0 win over Seattle on Sunday. Sandoval leads the Lobos in scoring this season.
F Blake Smith, New Mexico: Recorded one assist in the Lobos 3-0 win over Seattle on Sunday while playing 80 minutes.
MLS Academy Products
MF Bryan Ciesiulka, Marquette (Chicago Fire, Junior): Started and played 110 minutes in a 1-1 draw against Notre Dame on Saturday, then put in a 69 minute shift and picked up an assist in a 3-0 win in the Big East Conference tournament.
D Scott Lakin, Northwestern (Chicago Fire, Junior): Started both of the Northwestern games last week. The Wildcats last 0-1 to NIU in overtime, then played to a 0-0 draw with Wisconsin.
D Chad Barson, Akron (Columbus Crew, Senior): The center back went 90 minutes as Akron continued to dominate MAC competition with a 4-0 win over Hartwick. Put in the same shift in a 1-0 win over Michigan State on Wednesday.
D Jalen Robinson, Wake Forest (D.C. United, Freshman): Returned to the field, albeit in a substitute’s role, playing 14 minutes in a 3-1 defeat of South Carolina after missing time with an illness.
MF Collin Martin, Wake Forest (D.C. United, Freshman): The playmaking midfielder notched two assists in a 3-1 win against South Carolina.
MF Daniel Garcia, North Carolina (FC Dallas, Freshman): Scored a goal for Carolina in a 2-0 win over NC State, as he continues to enjoy a strong freshman year.
D Bradley Bourgeois, Tulsa (Houston Dynamo, Freshman): Played 87 minutes in the 2-0 loss to Kentucky last week. Bourgeois has started every game this season and played the third most minutes among field players.
F Gyasi Zardes, CSU Bakersfield (LA Galaxy, Junior): Contributed two assists over the weekend in games against Air Force and Denver. Zardes’ postseason hopes fall on his performance in the MPSF Tournament next weekend.
MF Scott Caldwell, Akron (New England Revolution, Senior): The attacking midfielder was in fine form, although he wasn’t among any of the goal scorers in a 4-0 win. Notched an assist in an 87 minute effort against Michigan State.
F Sean Okoli, Wake Forest (Seattle Sounders, Sophomore): One of three goal scorers in Wake’s 3-1 win against South Carolina on Saturday. Now has nine goals on the year, already twice as many goals as a year ago.
D DeAndre Yedlin, Akron (Seattle Sounders, Sophomore): Kept his spot at right back against Hartwick as the Zips won big 4-0, while also starting and helping the defense keep a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Michigan State.