Ready or not, the college soccer season is upon us with the regular season officially kicking off today. With the Philadelphia Union playing well, it’s hard to even think about the SuperDraft. But unlike early this year when the Union didn’t have a pick in the first two rounds that were staged in Philadelphia, the Union have a natural first round pick currently in their pocket.
Yes, the talent in the SuperDraft pool isn’t what it once was with so many players going the MLS academy route. But considering Jack Elliott’s recent run of form — and the other two previous SuperDraft picks on the back line in Ray Gaddis and Keegan Rosenberry — it’s not a completely fruitless exercise. If nothing else, you’ll see picks continue to get minutes with Bethlehem Steel FC in hopes of making it to the first team.
With that in mind, here is a list of prospects to keep an eye on this fall. Some will be familiar because of their time with the Union’s Premier Development League affiliate Reading United. Others are worth familiarizing yourself with so you have a better idea going into the annual combine the players behind the names being thrown around.
Note: This isn’t a list of the best players in college soccer. Just the ones that haven’t gone through the academy system and whose only path to MLS is via the SuperDraft. It’s possible that some players with MLS academy experience will enter the draft, but until the combine list is released it can be a bit of a guessing game determining which players are or are not eligible to sign as homegrowns and whether their MLS team is even interested.
That said, here’s my list of 2019 MLS SuperDraft prospects:
Manny Perez, MF, NC State*
Every year it seems there is a top player who for whatever reason decides to return to college and not accept either a Generation adidas offer to enter the draft as an underclassmen or pursue other opportunities. This year that’s Perez, the North Carolina native who has been a regular in U.S. youth international teams and is returning for his sophomore season at NC State. A skilled right-sided midfielder (and possible future right back), Perez has the ability to both create and score goals, Perez will be a name you hear mentioned a lot more as December approaches.
Siad Haji, MF, VCU*
Haji somewhat quietly put together a solid season for VCU with a pair of goals and eight assists, but has the skills to be even more of a force in the attack this season with his ability to take players on and provide for his teammates.
Aaron Molloy, MF, Penn State*
Molloy topped the prospect list for the Premier Development League over the summer for good reason. The Irishman is a gamer who led Reading United to the PDL final and who looks every bit the part of a pro. If not for his international status, he might already be a pro. A solid season under new head coach Jeff Cook should make him a GA target.
Santiago Patino, F, Florida International
Every year there is a crop of forwards in college soccer playing at smaller Division 1 schools who force their way into the national conversation by scoring a ton of goals. Sadly, sometimes this is the only way for a player at a smaller program to get attention — aside from tearing up the PDL. Patino fits that profile this season and after scoring 15 goals in 18 games last season, the Orlando native could keep the spotlight on him by putting together a similar body of work for a talented FIU team.
Garrett McLaughlin, F, SMU*
McLaughlin had a breakout sophomore season leading SMU with 14 goals and 3 assists en route to a third-team All-American selection last season. This means nothing of course in terms of the next level, but McLaughlin is a skillful player who is following a similar trajectory of previous Generation adidas players who have found their way into the draft as underclassmen so he’ll be fun to watch again this season.
Khori Bennett, F, Radford
Bennett didn’t get a ton of attention playing at Northeastern over the last three seasons but his goal-scoring record at Reading United pretty much speaks for itself and should put him in the conversation for one of the first two rounds of the draft come January. Like a lot of college players there are question marks about how his game will translate to MLS — there’s little doubt he could score goals in USL — but the Jamaican has changed scenery to Radford, where he’ll combine with Reading teammate Kieran Roberts in arguably one of the top forward lines in the country.
Geoffrey Dee, MF, Louisville
It can be easy to forget about a player when they miss their senior season with an injury, but people who follow UofL closely haven’t forgotten about central midfielder Geoffrey Dee. He’ll be the engine that drives Ken Lolla’s team this season and could see his draft stock rise similar to how former teammate Daniel Johnson’s did two seasons ago.
Sergi Nus, D, Virginia
A smooth and calming presence on the back line, Nus will once again anchor one of the top defenses in college soccer (only 18 goals conceded in 21 games last season). Though his international status will be a question mark when it comes to the next level, he’ll certainly be a player to watch in his final season in college.
Janos Loebe, MF, Fordham
Fordham was the big surprise in college soccer last season, making it to within one win of a trip to the College Cup at Talen Energy Stadium. The German midfielder was a big reason for that run — not unlike a certain Atlanta United midfielder who led Providence to a College Cup in 2014 — but his career stats of 19 goals and 20 assists show it wasn’t a one-time thing.
Mark Forrest, F, Lehigh
Forrest’s height and goal-scoring record — 33 going into his final season at Lehigh — will be the talking points for the England-born Pennsylvanian come combine season, but his leadership on and off the field and soccer IQ are qualities that will serve him well as a professional. After being named an All-American and showing up in the national scoring charts, Forrest spent some time with Reading United and doing the things that many would be draft picks do, getting opportunities to train with Minnesota United, attend a New York Red Bulls combine and train with Bethlehem Steel.
Umar Farouk Osman, MF, Michigan*
Michigan was one of the most exciting teams in the country to watch last year and while they’re no longer have Francis Atuahene in the attack Osman along with classmate and countryman Mohammed Zakyi give the Wolverines a lethal attack. Osman had only a pair of assists last season, but a more productive sophomore season will put him in the GA conversation.
Griffin Dorsey, F, Indiana*
Dorsey was one of the stars of a Hoosiers team that was among the most attractive teams in the college game last year so it only makes sense that he would be at the very least in the conversation as a GA target for 2019 after he was tied for second on the team in assists with six and had three goals as a freshman. A creative midfielder who can also play as a forward, there’s plenty of expectation for his second season in Bloomington.
Todd Morton, GK, Delaware
The West Chester native has been a solid presence for the Blue Hens the past two seasons after making 14 appearances his first season following a redshirt year at UMBC. EverybodySoccer just ranked the former Penn Fusion standout the top senior goalkeeper in college so it’s now up to Morton to back that up with a dominant senior season.
Hugo Delhommelle, F, Syracuse
The Frenchman headed west to Seattle Sounders U23 after two summers in Reading United and a bit of a disappointing first season for the Orange. A crafty and versatile midfielder with excellent passing range and vision, Delhommelle had a tendency to try to do too much with the Orange last year so he’ll need to show more polish in his senior season to convince a team that he’s worth an international spot he’d take up.
Daniel Krutzen, MF/D, Albany
Employed as a left back at Reading United for the first part of the season, the Belgium played a vital role in Albany’s attack last season, contributing four goals and seven assists.
Sergio Rivas, MF, Seattle
The pride of Albuquerque has been a consistent contributor for Seattle over his first three seasons with 15 goals and 16 assists and enters his senior season as one of the top central attacking midfielders in the country.
Abdou Mbacke Thiam, F, UConn
The senior forward from Senegal has 31 career goals through his first three seasons in Storrs and while he has done it somewhat off the radar the past couple years, double digits in goals in three straight seasons is no easy task in the college game.
Anderson Asiedu, MF, UCLA
Players from Ghana have become a draw for MLS teams over the past few drafts, even more so it seems as fewer of the better domestic prospects have either skipped college or have a pathway to MLS via the homegrown rule. Asiedu had a solid year last season with two goals and two assists after switching coasts from Monmouth, even as UCLA faltered to the program’s first losing season since 1952.
Other Potential Draft Prospects to Watch
Wouter Verstraaten, D, Pacific
Kamal Miller, D, Syracuse
Jakov Basic, MF, UMass-Lowell
Andre Shinyashiki, F, Denver
Luka Prpa, MF, Marquette*
Kieran Roberts, F, Radford
Grant Stoneman, D, Loyola
Kyle Holcomb, MF, Wake Forest*
Jack Hagstrom, D, Brown
Tucker Bone, MF, Air Force
Tate Robertson, F, Bowling Green
Jimmy Hague, GK, Michigan State
Elliott Otmani, F, Rider
Callum Montgomery, MF, Charlotte
Nathan Aune, D, Seattle
Rashid Nuhu, GK, Fordham
Jack Hallahan, F, Michigan*
Abdi Mohamed, MF, Akron
Ben Lundt, GK, Akron
Tajon Buchanan, F, Syracuse*
Javi Perez, M, Pitt
John Nelson, D, North Carolina*
Dejuan Jones, F, Michigan State
Anderson Asiedu, MF, UCLA
Mitchell Osmond, D, Rio Grande
Dayne St. Clair, GK, Maryland*
Tommy McCabe, MF, Notre Dame
* Underclassman - would require Generation adidas contract to be eligible for draft