The MLS SuperDraft is just over a week away and the draft class is finally starting to take shape. The biggest part of the puzzle in almost every MLS draft is the Generation Adidas class as this select group of underclassmen are often among the earliest selections since they come with the added bonus of their contracts not counting against the cap at the start of their career.
On Thursday, MLS confirmed the five players who would make up the Generation adidas class and though the group is not as star studded as it could have been the league has managed to sign a number of prospects that fans should be excited to see in the league.
The group of five players is headlined by a Canadian as Cyle Larin finally put pen to paper on a MLS contract thanks to a much improved offer from the league. With that big hurdle out of the way there is very little left standing in the way of Larin going first overall in the draft. Most experts have him at the top of their draft boards with the main question being whether or not it will be Orlando City taking him or if the expansion team will move down in the draft order. What we do know now is that it is a safe bet that Larin will become the highest ever Canadian draft pick in MLS breaking a record that is currently held by Kyle Bekker who was taken third overall.
Larin is not the only player heading to the draft after their status was in doubt in the previous weeks. Cristian Roldan was reportedly far apart from the league in terms of salary and looked set to return to the University of Washington for another year if the league did not come back with a better offer. It seems that the league have increased their offer though or Roldan lowered his demands as he has now signed on the dotted line and should be in position to go early on in the draft.
Roldan is another attacking player who has the talent to be an impact player in MLS. Any team drafting him will have to decide where to best use him in the midfield as he is capable of playing both centrally as a CAM or out on the wing. Roldan will be one of the best possession players available on draft day as he is more than capable of working in tight spaces. He also has the athletic ability to cause problems when he finds himself in more space making him a threat from just about anywhere in the midfield.
Outside of the big prospects there is Jamaican forward Romario Williams who while quite raw and in need of some work on his finishing he has the build and athleticism that tends to draw the interest of scouts. He has a more well rounded game than Darren Mattocks since he has a few more tools than just his pace and anyone selecting Williams will be hoping that he proves to have more in common with Deshorn Brown who also had question marks about his finishing heading in to the draft.
With three attacking players in the group there will also be some defensive options available to teams looking for help on that side of the ball. While it is not often that a goalkeeper is taken early in the first round (unless the Union are drafting) there is a good chance that one goes early this year. While Syracuse keeper Alex Bono does not come into the draft with the same sort of hype that Andre Blake had last year he does have a proven ability to stop the ball.
Bono proved on a consistent basis that he was one of the top goalkeepers in NCAA and was vital in Syracuse having such a strong defensive record and spending most of the year near the top of the rankings. He, like all college keepers, will need some time to work on his organization and distribution but his ability to stop the ball could be enough to see him get minutes even as a rookie. Anyone looking for a number 1 keeper for the next decade or so should be thinking long and hard about Bono based on his play in college.
The final member of the Generation adidas class is the most surprising inclusion of the five. So surprising in fact that I have very little knowledge of Conor Donovan as I (like everyone else) did not spend much time watching North Carolina State this season. The freshman defender is a promising prospect and a member of the US Under-20 team that will compete at the CONCACAF U20 Championships this month but he might be one more for the future than the other four GA members.
On the whole, MLS has done a decent job to salvage this Generation Adidas class. It remains a very small class but that seems to be the norm in recent years as the league is spending more on each player meaning the money available for GA signings does not go as far as it once did. Getting Roldan and Larin to the draft is big for the league as it now means that there will at least be two more high end talents available in Philadelphia which is crucial given this is a fairly weak draft class.