As we approach the 2016 MLS SuperDraft this Thursday, scouts, executives, and bloggers alike are analyzing the potential draftees and looking to find good fits. We here at SB Nation recently held our annual mock draft, as I looked to add impact players to an Orlando City franchise gearing up for its second MLS season.
It will be important for the Lions to follow up what was an impressive 2015 class that featured Earl Edwards Jr., Conor Donovan and MLS Rookie of the Year Cyle Larin with players that can make an impact in 2016. Picking seventh and 32nd overall (the mock draft covered only the first two rounds), I looked for players that could fill roles that have been opened over the past few weeks. Here's how the draft went ahead of our first-round selection:
1. Chicago Fire - Josh Yaro
2. Colorado Rapids - Jack Harrison
3. Philadelphia Union - Brandon Vincent
4. NYCFC - Jonathan Campbell
5. Real Salt Lake - Julian Buescher
6. Philadelphia Union - Omar Holness
No. 7. MF Richie Laryea
Following in the footsteps of countryman Cyle Larin from the Great White North all the way down to Orlando in this mock, Laryea has spent the last two years dominating midfields across the Mid-American Conference for the University of Akron. More of a holding midfielder his freshman year, Laryea flew up draft boards after excelling in a more attacking role for the Zips this season. Finishing with 11 goals and seven assists in 22 games, the Toronto native can be a plug-and-play depth piece all over the midfield, providing much-needed depth in the attack.
Laryea is a Generation Adidas player, meaning he would not count against the club's senior roster and will likely earn a much higher salary than the league minimum. Generation Adidas players are guaranteed scholarships to continue their college education should their careers in soccer not pan out.
When talking with MLSSoccer.com, Laryea explained exactly the type of player that he is.
"I'm a smaller guy, so I'm not really there to knock people over, like thump the ball forward. I'm about close control, keeping the ball, distributing it among your teammates, close touches, stuff like that."
Sounds an awful lot like the type of player Adrian Heath would love to get his hands on.
Following our selection of Laryea, here's how the mock SuperDraft shook out, leading up to our second-round selection:
8. San Jose Earthquakes - Jordan McCrary
9. Toronto FC - Keegan Rosenberry
10. New England Revolution - Kyle Fisher
11. Sporting KC - Tony Alfaro
12. LA Galaxy - Michael Salazar
13. D.C. United - Fabian Herbers
14. Montreal Impact - Zach Carroll
15. Seattle Sounders - James Moberg
16. Vancouver Whitecaps - Ben Polk
17. FC Dallas - Andrew Tarbell
18. New York Red Bulls - Cole Seiler
19. Columbus Crew SC - Dennis Castillo
20. Portland Timbers - Michael Gamble
21 (1). Columbus Crew SC - Timo Pitter
22 (2). Colorado Rapids - Vincent Keller
23 (3). Philadelphia Union - Liam Doyle
24 (4). Montreal Impact - Hadji Barry
25 (5). Real Salt Lake - Eric DeJulio
26 (6). Houston Dynamo - Josh Turnley
27 (7). Seattle Sounders - Todd Wharton
28 (8). San Jose Earthquakes - Chase Minter
29 (9). Vancouver Whitecaps - Tim Kubel
30 (10). New England Revolution - Patrick Hodan
31 (11). Columbus Crew SC - Duncan Backus
No. 32. MF Tsubasa Endoh
No stranger to adversity, Endoh was playing for JFA Academy Fukushima when the area was devastated by the natural disasters of 2011. His story is a moving one, escaping an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear radiation to attend the University of Maryland just one year after the tragedies.
He spent the next four years developing what became one of the most heady styles in collegiate soccer, known more for his subtle skill set than for the athleticism that dominates the NCAA level. At 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds, the Japan native is capable of playing an attacking role in the center of the midfield as well as on the right side. With the departure of Eric Avila, some depth behind Kevin Molino and Adrian Winter could be a good addition for the organization, although it may benefit Endoh to spend some time with Orlando City B when the schedule is slow and veterans are fit.
Following our second-round pick, this is how the mock draft rounded out:
33 (13). Chicago Fire - Ivan Magalhaes
34 (14). Montreal Impact - Eric Verso
35 (15). Seattle Sounders - Chris Hellman
36 (16). Vancouver Whitecaps - Max Lachoweki
37 (17). FC Dallas - Zach Mathers
38 (18). New York Red Bulls - Thomas Libiih
39 (19). Montreal Impact - Emmanuel Appiah
40 (20). Portland Timbers - Callum Irving
41 (21). Columbus Crew SC - Elias Gomez
As Endoh is Japanese born and Laryea is Canadian born, Orlando City would need to free up international slots to add these young men to the roster. This could be done with existing players receiving green card status, becoming U.S. citizens, or the slots could be acquired via trade.
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The 2016 MLS SuperDraft will take place this Thursday, streamed live from Baltimore on MLSSoccer.com starting at 1 p.m. ET. Who do you want to see Orlando City select?