By virtue of their trade with Orlando after the Expansion Draft, Atlanta United now controls the #2 and #8 picks in the first round of January’s MLS SuperDraft in Los Angeles. Assuming that they retain these picks, who could be on the board for them to select?
One thing to keep in mind, Generation adidas players have some special value for MLS clubs. While they are part of the GA program, their salary does not count against the team’s salary cap. Generally, players graduate from the program after becoming a regular starter or after a certain period of time, but that process varies a bit from player to player.
These are underclassmen who sign with the league early. Since the program launched, each #1 pick has been a GA player. The GA class typically is announced in January ahead of the Draft Combine.
Here are a few players to keep in mind for Atlanta’s first round selections:
Jeremy Ebobisse, Forward
Ebobisse signed a GA deal with MLS before the college season started. Atlanta United fans know the speedy forward from his time at Charleston this fall. His summer run with the U.S. U20’s generated a lot of interest and MLS moved quickly to ensure that Ebobisse stayed in the country. He could very well be the first pick in the draft by Minnesota.
Miles Robinson, Center Back
Robinson is a likely GA signing from Syracuse. Another member of the U.S. U20 national team, he played in a three-man backline with the Orangemen. Robinson also showed a penchant for scoring goals, notching four in his sophomore season this fall. He could be the most likely pick for Atlanta with the #2 selection.
Abu Danladi, Forward
Danladi nearly signed a GA deal with MLS last year, but it fell through late in the process. Most feel that Danladi has the most natural talent of anyone who could be in the draft this year, he has had offers from Europe before and turned them down. Injuries have been his biggest issue, and could either prevent MLS from offering a GA deal or have his stock drop in the draft.
Jackson Yueill, Central Midfielder
Some have felt that the local Minnesota connection could see the Loons take a chance on Yueill, if he signs a GA deal with the league. He has factored into the U.S. youth national teams, recently seeing time with the U20’s. He can feature as a playmaker or as a box-to-box midfielder, and earns plaudits for his technical ability. He is one of the hardest to predict in where he might get drafted.
Brandon Aubrey, Center Back
Aubrey has shown to be one of the best seniors in college soccer in 2016. He’s also another center back, like Robinson, who can score some goals with nine this season. Aubrey came up through the Dallas Texans youth system and has really blossomed in college.
Chris Odoi-Atsem, Outside Back
As a speedy outside back, Odoi-Atsem will have a future in MLS. He previously played forward before converting to a center back in college at Maryland. It has been his move to outside back that makes him a strong prospect for the next level. His attacking skills are strong and his defensive skills have steadily improved in college.
Ian Harkes, Central Midfielder
While he could end up as a Homegrown Signing with D.C. United, there is a possibility that Harkes ends up in the SuperDraft if he turns down that opportunity. A possession midfielder in the center of the field, he has really improved his stock at the MLS level with a stellar senior season at Wake Forest. He is a well-rounded two-way midfielder that will not jump out on the highlight reel, but give you a steady performance throughout.
Gordon Wild, Forward
A longer shot for a GA deal, Wild has exploded onto the scene at Maryland in 2016 after starting his college career at USC-Upstate in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Hailing from Germany, he would take up an international slot. He has scored nearly one goal per game in his college career, showing a poaching ability better than anyone else who could be in the draft.
Tim Kubel, Outside Back
Another long shot for a GA deal, Kubel is also another German who came to the U.S. for college soccer. Starring at the University of Louisville, he would be a known quantity by Atlanta United academy coach Kris Bertsch who worked with him in the Bluegrass State. A converted midfielder, Kubel is still learning the nuances of defending on the backline. However, his ability going forward has opened eyes.
Jacori Hayes, Winger
No one really knows where Hayes fits at the next level. A former member of U.S. youth national teams, Hayes has often played in the middle of midfield at Wake Forest. However, his size and speed have many thinking he could end up out side in MLS. He has consistently shown up in big moments for the Demon Deacons and could be one of the better 1v1 attacking players available in the draft.