After last season's SuperDraft where the Union ended up with Leo Fernandez and a collection of guys who didn't make the squad, it's hard to be overly optimistic about the potential returns even with a pair of picks in the first two rounds, but creativity in the midfield, a left back, target forward to spell Conor Casey and defensive depth would be the areas the Union should look to fill with their eight picks.
What the Union will be looking for:
With that in mind, the No. 2 and No. 6 picks in the first round should be about picking the best player available regardless of need. Louisville sophomore Marlon Hairston has the potential to be both of those things as a Generation Adidas signee who should be available to pick sixth in the SuperDraft.
What the experts say:
Hairston is on the radar in part because he's on the radar of the U.S. team as a U-20 national team pool player, but he's also starred in his two seasons playing for one of college soccer's coaching gems in Ken Lolla. Lolla's program, which one fan nicknamed "MLSU" when the Hairson Generation adidas deal was announced, has been productive in recent history boasting last year's No. 1 pick Andrew Farrell and 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year Austin Berry.
Hairston could continue that tradition as a midfielder with his explosive pace and tenacity on the ball. A couple examples of Hairston's skills are on display in the Cardinals Top 10 goals of 2013 video.
The third goal in the video (:44) was one I witnessed in person in an otherwise uneventful game for the sophomore from Jackson, Miss. In fact, before his darting run and clever finish late in the game against Cal State Bakersfiled I was starting to think that he might just be overrated. The second was No. 9 in the video (2:24), a nifty interception and gutsy assist he delivered in the box to teammate Zach Foxhoven.
Why we are invariably wrong:
For his moments of brilliance like these, Hairston is still raw and at times this season had me questioning whether his decision-making was up to snuff for the next level. Some observers seemed to think he might need another year of seasoning in college and that a Generation Adidas deal might be premature. While I don't necessarily disagree with that notion, his upside is unmistakable.
Why we are smarter then the experts:
Hairston's pace and tenacity are exactly the kind of thing Union head coach John Hackworth goes for. If he is setting up this team not only for the 2014 season, but according to his long term vision, players like Hairston are exactly the type that will flesh out the ranks of the Union's USL PRO partner Harrisburg City Islanders for the foreseeable future.
Full Mock Draft results (click on player names to see the profiles)
|1. D.C. United||Black and Red United||Patrick Mullins|
|2. Philadelphia Union||Brotherly Game||Steve Neumann|
|3. Vancouver Whitecaps||86 Forever||Andre Blake|
|4. Columbus Crew||Massive Report||Steve Birnbaum|
|5. FC Dallas||Big D Soccer||Christian Dean|
|6. Union||Brotherly Game||Marlon Hairston|
|7. Whitecaps||86 Forever||Damion Lowe|
|8. Chicago Fire||Hot Time In Old Town||Grant Van De Casteele|
|9. San Jose Earthquakes||Quake, Rattle and Goal||Eric Miller|
|10. Montreal Impact||Mount Royal Soccer||A.J Corrado|
|11. Colorado Rapids||Burgundy Wave||Schillo Tshuma|
|12. New England Revolution||The Bent Musket||JJ Koval|
|13. Seattle Sounders||Sounder at Heart||Aodhan Quinn|
|14. LA Galaxy||LAG Confidential||Fifi Baiden|
|15. Toronto FC||Waking the Red||AJ Cochran|
|16. Houston Dynamo||Dynamo Theory||Mamadou Diouf|
|17. Portland Timbers||Stumptown Footy||Reinaldo Brenes|
|18. Real Salt Lake||RSL Soapbox||Ben Sweat|
|19. Revolution||The Bent Musket||Marco Franco|
|20. Chivas USA||The Goat Parade||Enrique Cardenas|
|21. Sounders||Sounder at Heart||Taylor Peay|
|22. New York Red Bulls||Once a Metro||Pete Caringi|
|23. Crew||Massive Report||Pedro Ribeiro|
|24. Toronto FC||Waking the Red||Joey Dillon|
|25. Union||Brotherly Game||Jared Watts|
|26. Timbers||Stumptown Footy||Kevin Cope|
|27. Union||Brotherly Game||Kyle Venter|
|28. Earthquakes||Quake, Rattle and Goal||Mackenzie Pridham|
|29. Impact||Mout Royal Soccer||Jimmy Ockford|
|30. Whitecaps||86 Forever||Nikita Kotlov|
|31. Revolution||The Bent Musket||Victor Chavez|
|32. Dynamo||Dynamo Theory||Kristopher Tyrpak|
|33. Rapids||Burgundy Wave||Rafael Diaz|
|34. Red bulls||Once a Metro||Alex Martinez|
|35. Rapids||Burgundy Wave||Zach Bolden|
|36. Timbers||Stumptown Footy||Mark Sherrod|
|37. Impact||Mout Royal Soccer||Michael Calderon|
|38. Sporting Kansas City||The Daily Wiz|