MLS can be quite happy with the list of players they were able to sign to Generation adidas contracts ahead of the 2016 SuperDraft. The group this year includes most of the big names that were mentioned as potential targets with the only real glaring absence being forward Abu Danladi from UCLA.
While the league may have missed out on Danladi, who is likely to head off to Europe instead, they can be very pleased to have managed to agree to a deal with the top rated prospect in the NCAA ranks, Josh Yaro. Yaro, an undersized central defender, was a player that MLS tried to sign last year but he elected to return to Georgetown for another year rather than accept what many suggested was a bit of a low ball option. This winter is was fairly clear that he would be turning pro with the only real question being if it would be in MLS or with a team in Europe.
Yaro was a second team All-American for his performances this fall but the real key for most scouts is that the junior has only just begun to tap in to his potential. There are some question marks as to what position he will play at the next level with some suggesting his side might lead to teams looking at him as a better fit on the outside of defence rather than in a central role. No matter what position he winds up starting his career at you can expect him to be the first name called on draft day. Defenders of his quality are hard to come by so several teams may be interested in moving up to the top spot should the Chicago Fire be open to dealing.
Along with Yaro the league managed to sign Jack Harrison who now moves up most draft boards to the second spot thanks to the absence of Danladi from the draft. Harrison is a midfielder who stared for Wake Forest this past fall racking up 8 goals and 11 assists as a freshman which was good enough to see him named as a first team All-American.
Harrison is another player who some teams are unsure about where he will play at the next level. He is the best attacking player available in this draft so teams will find some spot for him but the question will be if it is a more central role as an attacking midfielder or out on the wing. His high work rate and skill set could prove valuable in the middle of the park while his athletic ability could lead to success on the wings. Figuring out how best to use him will be a good problem to have for whichever team drafts him.
The third member of the GA class is one who came out of nowhere this past fall. Julian Buescher is a German-born midfielder who turned in to a key piece of a very solid Syracuse team this past season. A second team All-American the midfielder put up 8 goals and 11 assists during his sophomore season.
Vision and passing are the real strong parts of Buescher's game as he proved to have the ability to work his way through tight spaces and pick out his teammates on the wings with pinpoint passing. He also showed that he can make runs to dangerous areas and find the back of the net when a chance comes along. The issue from him will be if he has the pace to really be a lynchpin for a team in the middle of the park. In the right system though he should be able to flourish if he is not tasked with covering too much ground. He could very well be a top five pick in this draft with several teams picking early needing some help in their midfield.
Next up is Andrew Tarbell who is the loan goalkeeper in the group. Like many previous keepers to sign GA deals he is not expected to be a top pick but he could very well be the first one off the board come draft day. Tarbell's inclusion likely means that Canadian Callum Irving becomes the second best goalkeeper available as the Clemson junior has a lot of buzz going for him after a very strong showing in the College Cup. He, like any keeper coming out of NCAA, will likely need some seasoning before he is ready to play in MLS so expect whatever team that drafts him to send him to play in USL this year.
The final member of the class (for now at least) is Canadian midfielder Richie Laryea. He could play just about anywhere in the midfield of the field at the MLS level as he started his Akron career as more of a holding midfielder before turning heads in a more advanced role this past season. He led the way for Akron scoring 11 goals this fall and was a huge part of their run to the semi-finals at the College Cup.
Whatever team drafts him will again have to decide just where to use him as he could serves as an attacking midfielder, a secondary forward, a winger, or even sit deeper in the midfield if needed. It may take time for him to settle in at the next level but his skills should appeal to many teams picking in the top 10. His ability to take defenders on with the dribble, create for teammates, and find his way in to dangerous spaces should translate well to the professional game.
There is a chance that Omar Holness is added to this group before draft day as he has been offered a Generation adidas contract but has yet to finalize a deal. For now though, the group stands at five with four of them projected to likely go in the top 10 selections.