Unlike the NFL and NBA, Major League Soccer doesn't have an abundance of pundits solely dedicated to speculating on the annual college draft. But, as the Jan. 13 MLS SuperDraft approaches, some of the national soccer media's biggest names have released their first predictions.
University at Buffalo star Russell Cicerone and Sweet Home High School alumnus Liam Callahan are the two players with local ties that have the best chance to get drafted, and both have seen their names among the various mocks. Both players suited up for FC Buffalo for one season, too. Cicerone was invited to the MLS Combine, held Jan. 8 through 12, while Callahan was not.
Never has a player from the Big 4 local Division I schools or a player who attended high school in Section VI been selected in the annual draft.
*MLSSoccer.com's Matthew Doyle, @MLSAnalyst on Twitter, predicts Cicerone will be drafted at No. 15 in the first round by the Colorado Rapids. Here's what he has to say about the Bulls' four-time All-MAC selection:
"Cicerone is probably the guy who has the most to gain and the most to lose with the physical testing at the Combine. It's not about straight-ahead speed with him, but rather his balance and agility -- the ability to get out of tight spaces and make the daylight you find actually matter.
I'm guessing he does something close to 'good enough,' and then I'm guessing he starts getting some buzz as a Tommy McNamara type. He's not going wow anybody, but as one GM said to me 'he's a soccer player. He's going to figure it out.'
The Rapids are currently thin on the flanks, so I think this is a pretty easy pick for them to make."
Ives Galarcep, editor of SoccerByIves, released his first mock on Jan. 4. Although he does not see either Western New York connection being drafted in the first round, he pegs Callahan at No. 30 to the Houston Dynamo and Cicerone No. 33 to the Philadelphia Union.
Over at TopDrawerSoccer, the staff's first mock, published Jan. 4, does not include Cicerone or Callahan in the first round. The site's MLS Draft Big Board, however, digs deeper into the pool of prospects and ranks Callahan No. 60 and Cicerone No. 61 out of its top 75. There will be 88 players drafted.
Here's everything you need to know about the coming MLS Combine, including where to stream the scrimmages, via MLSSoccer.com.
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who has January soccer fever, at firstname.lastname@example.org