Player: Jeremy Ebobisse
College: Duke (Spent 2016 on loan with Charleston Battery)
Country: United States
While the circumstances surrounding Jeremy Ebobisse’s entry into the 2017 MLS SuperDraft are uncertain at best, what is certain is the 19-year-old’s talent. There isn’t a consensus top prospect in this year’s draft, but many experts and evaluators see Ebobisse as the logical top pick in the draft.
Major League Soccer sees something in him as well. It was announced in August that the Duke striker would forego his Junior season with the Blue Devils and sign a contract with the league ahead of this month’s draft. After signing said deal, Ebobisse was sent to the Charleston Battery on loan to stay fit and showcase himself for clubs hoping to draft him.
The news created a buzz around the Atlanta United community considering the Battery are the club’s USL affiliate and they were guaranteed one of the top two picks in the draft. Was that just a happy coincidence or some complex inner workings to get him as close to his future club as possible? Conspiracy theorists have died down since then. The easiest explanation seems to be that Charleston was the most logical destination for him considering his time in college in Durham.
While playing alongside the likes of Andrew Carleton, Jeffrey Otoo, Romario Williams and Alexander Tambakis, Ebobisse recorded a goal and an assist in just five matches played. The competition for minutes was fierce with the Battery, leading to spot duty for the highly touted attacker. However, his draft stock doesn’t seem to have been affected at all by his lack of appearances in 2016.
Getting a chance to watch the youngster play on in the USL, several things about his game became clear. His technical quality stood out above the majority of his peers. For a young player making his professional debut, that’s quite something.
When in the box, his preferred left foot is a deadly tool he often looks to use. His one and only goal came from a lovely curling strike with that dangerous weapon.
The club level isn’t where Ebobisse has made a name for himself. His work with the United States under-20 national team is what has many scouts and team officials drooling over his potential. In 2016, he tallied nine goals in only eight games for the U-20’s, including a hat trick against the Netherlands in October.
What They’re Saying
Ives Galarcep added this note about him:
The U.S. Under-20 national team striker left Duke after his sophomore season to pursue pro options in Europe, but signed with MLS earlier this year. His impressive form with the U-20s have boosted his stock considerably, pushing him into the conversation for the top pick right next to Danladi.
American Soccer Now’s Brian Sciaretta had this tidbit about him possibly ending up in Atlanta in an interview with the player in October:
With the numbers Ebobisse is putting up for the U-20 team, he is setting himself up to have an even bigger 2017 where he could feature at the U-20 World Cup and be among the top overall draft picks—maybe even with Atlanta, which is currently affiliated with the Charleston Battery.
Draft Utopia predict that Ebobisse will be selected by Minnesota United with the first overall pick:
The 6-0 175 lb Jeremy Ebobisse was named team captain of Duke as a sophomore in 2015 where he had 7 goals, 4 assists, and 18 points. Ebbobise played for Charleston Battery in 2016 where he had 1 goal, 1 assist, and 2 points in 5 USL games. Ebbobise has tremendous leadership qualities plus his experience in the USL trumps what any other prospect has to offer at this point with many projecting Ebobisse as the top pick.
It’s certain that Ebobisse is one of, if not the, top prospects in the 2017 SuperDraft. However, with someone rated as highly as him they usually are hoping to compete for first team minutes straight away. It’s unclear whether Minnesota or Atlanta would be able to offer him that.
Many expect Minnesota to find a way to re-sign Christian Ramirez to an MLS contract and have him back for their inaugural season. The 25-year-old has been the Loons’ main goal threat since 2014 in the NASL and it appears he’ll attempt to play the same role in 2017.
If Minnesota do decide to use their top pick on Ebobisse he might not get too many minutes in his first year with Ramirez being the go-to man for goals. There’s still a chance they could draft him and use him as a winger, but finding a solid defensive player seems like another way they could go. Then there’s also the possibility of them favoring a local product in Jackson Yueill.
In a dream scenario where they pass on him and his falls to Atlanta at No. 2, the same conundrum exists with Kenwyne Jones. Although, it must be noted that Jones is getting up there in age and was a pre-Tata signing. His position in the starting lineup isn’t as concrete as Ramirez’s with the Loons would be. There is a spot on the left side of the field that could be filled by him if he does fall to No. 2, however a defensive option could make more sense for Atlanta too.
It’s very hard to see Ebobisse slipping past the two expansion teams, but there’s always a chance another team could value him so much they try to trade up in the draft to get him.