LAFC has four forwards, five midfielders, three defenders forming a veteran back line led by Walker Zimmerman, and two goalies. Most of the pieces for LAFC to make a splash are in place. LAFC is going to run a 2-5-3 with 2 forwards, 5 midfielders, and 3 defenders. Knowing this, LAFC has the luxury to ignore need and take the best player on their board. I still believe that Francis Atuahene and Tomas Hilliard-Arce are the two best overall players on the board.
At the same time, LAFC wants to add a cornerstone player that can be on the team for 10-15 years. There are only two Generation Adidas prospects that are 19-years-old or younger. Mason Toye, the Indiana striker that I really like on tape who reminds me of Cyle Larin and Joao Moutinho who has the best left foot in the class offensively, but is a huge project from a defensive standpoint because he doesn't diagnose plays on defense. He's undersized, and scouts haven't found what position he excels at yet meaning he'd probably be a bench player on day 1.
The 6-0 156 lb freshman helped Akron record 13 shutouts in 2017. He also has the versatility to play left back, center back, right back, or defensive midfielder. His plug-in-play ability makes him a top 5 pick. Some scouts argue he fits a possession type of team more so on the back line then Hilliard-Arce. He's got the soccer IQ and he's very alert. Moutinho interviewed well with numerous teams at the 2018 MLS Combine. He's played left back for six to seven years leading up to his time at Akron before getting a Generation Adidas offer.
Whether, I like this pick or not is pretty irrelevant at this point because there is a very strong chance Moutinho is the first selection for LAFC barring a trade. The thing that separates Moutinho from Hilliard-Arce in the eyes of other highly regarded MLS Scouts is the fact that Moutinho is a raw yet highly athletic two-way defender that can excel offensively and defensively down the road despite being raw. He has a high soccer IQ, but he didn't get voted team captain in his first year at Akron and he's a project player with the ceiling of an All Star. These other scouts also believe Hilliard-Arce is MLS ready at center back, but at the same time he has the ceiling of a defensive defender that can shut down a lane, yet may never become effective offensively.
Moutinho can go on the attack or defend. MLS teams don't necessarily look at guys with the best tape or the guy who is most likely to make an immediate impact. Sometimes they look for the player with the most room to develop or the player who has the tempo to adapt to professional soccer in the MLS at the next level. That's the one thing I've learned from watching this years 2018 MLS Combine, even though I'm not a huge fan of this pick. Mouthinho has the upside and the tempo to make it as Brek Shea type of player withe right type of coaching and that's what these scouts are looking at.
The Los Angeles Galaxy run a 1-5-4 formation. They signed Perry Kitchen to be their defensive midfielder so that's a clear indication that Mo Adams may not go to the Galaxy. The Los Angeles Galaxy have filled all of their starting roles at defensive midfielder, left back, they got stability at center back even added depth today, and a right back.
Los Angeles is in a unique position. They realistically have three options. The first option involves ignoring need and just taking the best overall attacker which happens to be Francis Atuahene. The second situation involves drafting a need by getting who may be the best overall striker in Mason Toye, the Indiana forward. The final option involves dealing Allocation Money. I feel like New England may offer 8, 9, and a hefty amount of allocation to move up for Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce. I don't project trades in mock drafts unless they are finalized before they happen.
Francis Atuahene may be the fastest player in the entire 2018 MLS Super Draft at 5-9 170 lbs. He also led the Big 10 in shots this year despite only having 6 goals, 4 assists, and 16 points in 2017. You can't look at the stats. The tape with Atuahene reveals all of his skills as an offensive midfielder. Atuahene is capable of playing striker, secondary striker, left wing, right wing, central midfielder, attacking midfielder, or a playmaker.
His speed, constant ability to shoot, and versatility is what makes Atuahene a top prospect. He scored the only goal on a Dartmouth team led by Wyatt Omsberg so he clearly has the talent to be a top 3 pick if he turns pro. He's gotten a lot better at capitalizing on scoring chances. I think Atuahene is probably the the most consistent player from a big play standpoint because he did well in all 3 days of the MLS Combine and he has the speed to thrive at either forward or midfielder in the MLS. He may start out as a substitute to close games on the attack, but his firepower gives Los Angeles a lot more depth in their midfield.
Francis Atuahene may even be a dark horse to go first overall. At the same time you can argue he still has a lot of things he needs to work on, but he will get picked in the top 3 simply due to his speed and athleticism.
LAFC gave up $200,000 in allocation money to D.C. United for this pick. I gave D.C. United Mo Adams last night and I get a Jon Bakero vibe with this pick. At the same time, I'm leaving Mo Adams at 3 due to time constraints.
Mo Adams only showed up for the final day of the 2018 MLS Combine. I trust what I see with his tape on and off the field and he seems like someone who can contribute in the closing minutes as a defensive midfielder if you think he's not ready to start at the very worst. I really like the upside Adams provides down the road.
Mo Adams won a freshman of the year award at Syracuse in 2016 despite being 5-6 165 lbs. He got voted team captain as a sophomore in 2017 and is an outstanding defensive midfielder with game breaking speed and outstanding ability to cover attacking midfielders by neutralizing their scoring ability by covering ground from his own area well into the opponents attacking zone.
He may not have any points. He's a great offensive facilitator in terms of passing though and considers himself the quarterback in football or the point guard in basketball when it comes to facilitating the offense for Syracuse.
I interviewed Mo Adams on the Draft Utopia podcast and it was easily one of the best interviews we had on our podcast. Mo Adams is the third consecutive Generation Adidas player to be picked to begin my final 2018 MLS Mock Draft.
Montreal uses this pick they got from the Colorado Rapids to take the best player on the board. Montreal runs a 3-3-4 with 3 forwards, 3 midfielders, and 4 defenders meaning their left winger and right winger act as secondary strikers rather than having the wingers play midfielder. Montreal just signed two defenders today one at center back and one at right back. I expect them to take offensive players at 4 and 7.
The 6-3 180 lb Mason Toye had 10 goals, 2 assists, and 22 points as a true freshman. Indiana did not lose a single game in regulation or overtime until the 2017 College Cup versus Stanford. Mason Toye also had 5 game-winning goals. Toye has all the tools to be a #1 striker and reminds me so much of Cyle Larin that it's scary. He's only 19-years-old like Joao Moutinho so Montreal getting two of the youngest players could be huge for their long-term future.
Minnesota has Christian Ramirez who led the team with 14 goals as a striker along with Abu Danladi a finalist for rookie of the year as a secondary striker. Kevin Molino led Minnesota United F.C. with 9 assists as a midfielder/forward. Minnesota needs defense and they run a 2-4-4 with a striker, secondary striker, an attacking midfielder at left wing, an attacking midfielder at right wing, two defensive midfielders, left back, right back, and two center backs.
A defender would be the most logical option for Minnesota F.C. at 5. Tomas Hilliard-Arce is by far and away my favorite player in the Suepr Draft. He told one team at the 2018 MLS Combine that he just wants to kick some ass and run people over. I love that answer. LAFC is gonna regret not taking this guy number one overall over Joao Mutinho in my personal opinion.
The 6-1 172 lb Tomas Hilliard-Arce led Stanford to three consecutive championships. He even got Stanford a two more championships after Brandon Vincent left the team and plans to reach out to Vincent during the 2018 MLS Draft Process. Stanford has recorded over 10 shutouts in the last three years seasons in large part due to Tomas Hilliard-Arce.
Magic Johnson is one of the co-owners of LAFC. He's gonna want someone with a championship pedigree with the top pick. Hilliard-Arce led Stanford to back-to-back championships and got voted team captain in 2016 after Vincent left only to lead Stanford to another two championships in 2016 and 2017 after winning his first championship with Vincent in 2015. Hilliard-Arce reached out to Brandon Vincent.
LAFC can stay in California and draft a local player with the kicking power, kicking accuracy, vision, offensive awareness, defensive awareness, and ability to blanket forwards with his coverage. This is a guy that can intercept passes that come his way. He's strong and durable and does not get knocked on the ground. His communication and leadership is invaluable so I feel like he's going to be the top pick in the 2018 MLS Super Draft despite being a senior.
Tomas Hilliard-Arce led a defense that has 18 shutouts this year if you count the 2 shutouts to begin the season from exhibition games as well as 11 regular season shutouts in 2017, and 5 playoff shutouts in 2017. Tomas Hilliard-Arce also had 4 goals, 3 assists, and 11 points along with those 16 shutouts in both the regular season and the College Cup, and Tomas Hilliard-Arce is the clear cut number one overall prospect.
Orlando City S.C. seems like a team that will add an outside back with their ability to reload offensively so quickly. The 6-2 180 lb Tristan Blackmon has incredible size for a right back. Blackmon is big enough to be a center back at the MLS level. He also has experience at right back, left back, left wing, right wing, striker, and secondary striker. He could honestly play forward, midfielder, or defense with his skills and that skill set makes Blackmon a top 10 pick after re-watching his tape coming away extremely impressed because he has the offensive and defensive awareness to make it. Blackmon dominated the 2018 MLS Combine, and I've moved him up from 9 to 6 after what I saw in Orlando City S.C. Orlando City S.C. has no other picks and I heard New York City F.C. may move up to this pick. I'm not buying that, but don't rule out the possibility of Orlando City S.C. moving down.
Montreal uses this pick they to get the best player on the board. I see Montreal getting both Mason Toye and Jon Bakero at 4 and 7 if they keep both picks. They reloaded on defense so getting the top striker and the 2017 Hermann Trophy Winner at 17 is huge.
That being said Jon Bakero is the most logical option for the Montreal at 7. He led Wake Forest with 16 goals, 14 assists, and 46 points in 2017 at 6-3 165 lbs. He's Wake Forest's best midfielder since Jack Harrison despite being a senior. He played midfielder in Spain growing up overseas and has played some forward at Wake Forest as well as midfielder giving him the versatility to play striker, secondary striker, left wing, right wing, central midfielder, or attacking midfielder. He projects as a midfielder in the MLS due to his consistent playmaking this season. His father played for F.C. Barcelona overseas.
The Revolution run a 1-5-4. They need a forward. Edward Opoku may be the goal scoring striker that the New England Revolution need.
The 5-7 140 lb striker has game breaking speed. He also had 8 goals, 4 assists, and 20 points in 2017. Opoku is the sixth of seven Generation Adidas prospects to get drafted in my top 8 and is my final Generation Adidas prospect in the top half of the first round.
New England needs to go with a defender here. Northeastern's head coach in called Wyatt Omsberg the best overall center back in the draft. Omsberg has emerged as a challenger to Tomas Hilliard-Arce for the top center back in the 2018 MLS Super Draft.
Real Salt Lake gets another winger in Chris Mueller who most now have a top 5 grade on. Mueller had 8 goals, 11 assists, and 27 points in 2016. He had 9 goals, 20 assists, and 38 points in 2017. He's a natural forward, but displays the playmaking of a midfielder which is why I see the 6-0 170 lb forward converting to the wing at the next level.
F.C. Dallas takes the best player at 11. The 6-0 170 lb Brandon Bye is is a 6-0 170 lb midfielder who had 12 goals, 7 assists, and 31 points in 2017. Bye is someone who has the goal scoring of a forward, the experience to play at midfield, and the stamina of a fullback on the outside. He can play forward, midfielder, or defense with his versatility. The other reason, I love this pick is because Bye dominated the MLS Combine. He has this local vibe that will get teams attention.