This year’s MLS SuperDraft takes place on Friday, and barring a surprise signing in the coming days it will bring the first new Toronto FC acquisitions of the offseason - not including Armando Cooper, of course.
SB Nation’s mock draft is coming tomorrow - spoiler alert: I screwed it up - but with two days of the combine already ticked off, here are a few players to watch out for in Los Angeles. TFC have three picks in the first two rounds at numbers 21, 26 and 27, and these guys could all realistically be on their radar.
My top priority in the SuperDraft would be to grab a young right-back capable of backing up - and eventually replacing - Steven Beitashour, leaving the front office to focus its attention on centre-backs and an attacking midfielder in the transfer market.
There are a couple of names in particular who would seem to fit the bill on that front: Reagan Dunk (no highlights videos found), of the University of Denver, and Colton Storm (highlights video with nightmarish flashing thing found), of North Carolina.
Chris Odoi-Atsem is regarded as the best full-back in the draft and should go in the top 10, leaving him out of TFC’s reach unless they trade up. But though they are both consensus first-round picks, there’s a better chance one of Dunk or Storm could fall to Toronto at the end of the opening frame. Both turn 23 this year.
There is no shortage of Canadian - and even Toronto-born - options in this year’s draft. The first to be taken will probably be Shamit Shome, one of two Generation Adidas Canada players, who was a regular in the NASL with FC Edmonton last season. Again, he’s unlikely to be within TFC’s grasp and will be attractive to Vancouver with the seventh-overall pick.
The other GA Canada talent, however, is a bit more of a wild card. At 17, Adonijah Reid is considerably younger than most of the college players in the draft and may well have been completely off the radar of many teams in MLS before his invite to the combine. He was the top scorer in League1 Ontario in 2015 as a teenager and would be a great get with one of Toronto’s two second rounders, or even with their first.
Three other Canadians, all coming out of college, could be available in the range of TFC’s first three picks. Brian Wright, an athletic forward at Vermont, and Kwame Awuah, a left-footed midfielder who has taken the Cyle Larin path from Sigma FC to UConn, will probably go sometime in the second half of the first round.
Chris Nanco, a speedy, Brampton-born forward at Syracuse, drops a bit lower but should be off the board by the end of the second.
The combine standouts
There is usually a couple of players who boost their stock dramatically with a strong performance at the combine, and Daniel Johnson looks on his way to doing that. The Louisville midfielder, who was previously with West Ham’s academy, is ranked 51st by Top Drawer Soccer (whose big board is the most comprehensive going) but won’t last that long now after an excellent display in his first combine match on Sunday.
Also impressive was Jorge Gomez Sanchez. As far as I can tell, Temple have not had a player taken in the SuperDraft since its inception in 2000, but the Spaniard should change that. He was dominant with the Owls this season, scoring 12 goals in 16 games as an attacking midfielder, and proved he could mix it with a higher level of competition in his first combine game. Top Drawer Soccer have him ranked 28th.