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MLS Mock Draft: Union select Marlon Hairston with No. 6 pick

Louisville midfielder Marlon Hairston has scored six goals and delivered five assists in 39 games for the Cardinals in two seasons.

Photo courtesy of Louisville athletics

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)

First Round

Team Blog Pick
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

Second Round

Team Blog Pick
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

Romena Bowie