With less than a week until the SuperDraft, it's time to get down and evaluate the players who will be at the Combine. With the holidays and the pace of news in the offseason, it can be hard to believe that the SuperDraft is just next week! However, with a slew of media from many sources this year, we could have one of the most interesting and entertaining Combines and Drafts. This class seems to be a bit stronger than last year's - I say this because there are guys that are said to be more MLS ready than last year's, and a lot more sleeper picks. For the next week, we will be unrolling many articles regarding the Combine, Draft, and who Chivas USA should pick.
Today, we look at this year's Generation Adidas class. Initially, five players were announced as part of the group - Eriq Zavaleta, Walker Zimmerman, Andrew Farrell, Mikey Lopez, and Jason Johnson. There were rumblings of others being offered contracts, especially Maryland star Patrick Mullins. Mullins opted to stay in college for another year, thus sending MLS to offer contracts elsewhere. Thus, the last two players, Deshorn Brown and Kekuta Manneh, were annouced as part of the class this week. Read on for info on all the players:
Eriq Zavaleta (Indiana) – Zavaleta being a member of this group should come as no surprise to you. Instead of discussing how good he is yet again, the discussion should now come down to where he will play, both in terms of teams, and field position. As we know, he can play both as forward and defender, and many think he could do either in the pro levels as well. It all comes down to the team he plays on and where they decide to put him on the field.
Walker Zimmerman (Furman) – Zimmerman is touted as one of the top three talents of this draft class. A defender with lots of experience with U.S. youth national teams, he is believed to be someone who can contribute to an MLS team right away. Zimmerman has the physicality that is coveted from an MLS defender. He also has the ability to hold the ball well and get on the end of plays – he was the second top scorer on his college team, and those weren’t all from headers. While he won’t be at the Combine due to injury, many teams have already said they would take him with the number one pick.
Mikey Lopez (UNC) – Seen as the biggest project in this class, the defensive midfielder is not expected to come into a starting lineup right away. He has the ability to pass the ball well and be an integral part of the attack, but it is believed that he will need some time and proper guidance adjusting to the play of MLS. An important note on him is where he will play in MLS. While he has played mainly as a defensive midfielder, there are a lot of questions about his size and physicality and whether or not he will succeed as a D-Mid because of these aspects. As I am posting this, Lopez has played one half of the first game of the Combine as a central attacking midfielder, a position many say he may have to learn to play for MLS. However, it seems he is excelling in this game so far in this position, so we will see what is in store for him.
Andrew Farrell (Louisville) – Andrew Farrell is another player seen as being MLS-ready. The defender from Louisville is rated very highly, especially due to his versatility and ability to play center back, right back, and defensive midfielder. Many see him as a top 5 draft pick. His play doesn’t drop when he switches positions, and his level of play is said to rise with every game he plays. Basically, he’s the defender many want on their team, and is someone to really keep your eye out for.
Jason Johnson (Virginia Commenwealth University) – Jason Johnson could be one of the "sleepers" of this Generation Adidas class. He doesn’t come from a program that many are familiar with, and is just taking hold of the national scene. However, the forward from VCU has many qualities that would excel in MLS – primarily, his physicality. He is someone else that is believed to be able to contribute immediately to whichever team drafts him.
Deshorn Brown (University of Central Florida) – Another quick and physical forward, Deshorn Brown was one of two players signed to the Generation Adidas class just this past week. UCF didn’t have the best season, but Brown was able to show his skill set and earn himself a GA contract.
Kekuta Manneh (Austin Aztex) – Manneh is probably the least known about member of the Generation Adidas class. The 18 year old was a bit of a goal-scoring machine in the U.S. Development Academy, with 35 goals in 23 games. He spent the last year playing with the Austin Aztex in the USL-PDL, where he scored 10 goals in 12 games. However, there isn’t much more about him. He will have a case to prove at the Combine this weekend, and will probably be a surprise pick.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!