This class has as many as 7 ACC prospects in the top 10. Austin FC is on the clock.
Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Last Updated: January 21, 2021.
Austin FC: Daniel Pereira, M, Virginia TechC Grade
Austin FC took our sixth best player at 1, then again I had Frankie Amaya at 13 two years ago and he's lived up to the hype which is why this pick only got a C grade despite being a huge reach. The 5-9 155 lb Daniel Pereira is one of the confirmed Generation Adidas signings. Pereira has game along with the best kicking power of any prospect in this draft. His upside outweighs his weaknesses even though he's got a lot he needs to work on as far as tape goes.
I posted a film cut of Virginia Tech midfielder Daniel Pereira VS Virginia. He's a box-to-box midfielder that can play attacking or defensive midfielder. He took free kicks and corner kicks. He probably has the most kicking power of any prospect in this class. His kicking accuracy and decision making needs to improve. He fatigued 3 times on film against Virginia where it looked like he was out of breath. Pereira can be a star if he improves those three areas of his game. If he doesn't improve in these areas he could have a short MLS career because he plays extremely recklessly on tape making Pereira the boom or bust prospect of this draft.
Calvin Harris had 3 goals, 3 assists, and 9 points as a freshman in 2019. Calvin Harris had 4 goals, 2 assists, and 10 points in 2020. He's the one player in this draft who may have a higher ceiling than the projected first overall pick Philip Mayaka. F.C. Cincinnati finally got a striker to build around Frankie Amaya.
I posted a film cut of Wake Forest striker Calvin Harris VS Clemson. Calvin Harris did a good job helping Wake Forest defeat Clemson 2-0 in this contest.
Colorado gave up $200,000 in allocation money and the sixth overall pick to the Houston Dynamo to move up to 3. They may have to give up an additional $50,000 too which is why the Rapids won't get an A+ grade here. However, they got the best player on our board at 3 so their gamble to trade up paid off.
The 5-7 135 lb Philip Mayaka picked up where Edward Kizza left off at Montverde Academy after being born in Ghana. What I can tell you is that Mayaka was the second best freshman recruit in High School behind Ousseni Bouda for the class of 2019. Mayaka was also one of two freshman to be invited to the 2019 MLS College Showcase after having 2 goals, 8 assists, and 12 points as a true freshman en route to winning ACC Freshman Of The Year in 2019. Philip Mayaka transitioned from being an offensive midfielder to defensive midfielder on Clemson in 2020.
Philip Mayaka has the soccer IQ to play effectively both on offense and on defense. He plays aggresive too. He led Clemson with 8 yellow cards, but had 0 red cards. Mayaka can play reckless at times, but he also plays smart and is a very decisive midfielder.
Philip Mayaka can line up at left wing, attacking midfielder where he's used as a playmaker who can generate 10 assists, right winger, defensive midfielder, left back, center back, and right back. Mayaka is a pretty versatile prospect who can line up anywhere at midfielder or defense.
Philip Mayaka will be the top pick in the 2021 MLS Super Draft if he gets a Generation Adidas offer simply due to his leadership and how consistent he is on tape even dating back to when he was the second best recruit in the country coming out of High School. Clemson beat an unbeaten Pittsburgh team to win the 2020 ACC Championship and he looked like the best player in the 2021 MLS Super Draft on tape despite having 0 goals, 0 assists, and 0 points in a shortened 2020 Fall Season.
I posted a film cut of Clemson midfielder Philip Mayaka VS Pittsburgh. Philip Mayaka has the highest ceiling of any prospect in this draft. I have another film cut of Mayaka versus Notre Dame on our Youtube Channel which you can watch by subscribing to Draft Utopia on Youtube. He takes too many plays off which is something Jadeveon Clowney was guilty of coming out of South Carolina when he was the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. If Colorado thinks they can get the most out of Mayaka they should take him since he looks like a much better prospect on tape than Robbie Robinson who went first overall in the 2020 MLS Super Draft out of Clemson.
I mocked Kimarni Smith at 9, but he's my second best striker on the board and D.C. United needed a striker at 4. The 6-1 160 lb Kimarni Smith had 13 goals, 5 assists, and 31 points in 2019. He led the NCAA with 8 goals, 3 assists, and 19 points in 2020.
I posted a film cut of Clemson forward Kimarni Smith VS North Carolina. Kimarni Smith had 2 goals versus North Carolina. He had a hat trick against Virginia Tech, but Smith's North Carolina game film was the only game film I could find where Smith dominated on film in 2020.
D.C. United gave up $125,000 and 31 to Atlanta for 5 and 32. They chose Michael DeShields who I had in my top 10 over Ethan Bartlow, Josh Bauer, and Nabi Kibunguchy, the consensus top three center backs.
I love DeShields and had him in my top 10. That doesn't change the fact that this is a reach to some degree by D.C. United. Wake Forest did shutout Clemson which is why you cannot fault D.C. United too much for this pick.
The 6-1 180 lb Michael DeShields is one of the best center backs in the 2021 MLS Super Draft that nobody is talking about. I'm glad D.C. United got someone to fix their center back void.
I posted a film cut of Wake Forest center back Michael DeShields VS Pittsburgh. Edward Kizza struggled against Wake Forest until DeShields left this game injured.
I was tempted to give this an A+ grade. Since Houston traded their third pick to Colorado who took the best player in the draft, I cannot do that. However, Houston Dynamo F.C. got our second best overall player at 6 as well as $200,000 in allocation money. Well done Houston.
Ethan Bartlow dominated at Crossfire Premier SC. Bartlow scored 7 goals as a senior before Crossfire Premier SC's coaching staff called him the top High School defender in the country. This resulted in Bartlow enrolling into Washington. Jesse Clark raved about Bartlow.
The 6-1 170 lb Ethan Bartlow anchored Washington's defense as a true freshman at center back anchoring a unit that only allowed 20 goals in 2018. Bartlow anchored a unit that only allowed 14 goals and helped record 12 shutouts in 2019 en route to winning PAC 12 Player of the Year while leading Washington to a PAC 12 Championship in 2019.
Ethan Bartlow had 5 goals, 1 assist, and 11 points in 2019. Bartlow can drill a ball 20-to-30 yards when passing it to teammates. His kicking power and kicking accuracy is better than any defender in the past five MLS Super Drafts. He's a dominant two-way defender that could provide some excitement if he manages to make an MLS roster.
I posted a film cut of Washington center back Ethan Bartlow VS Georgetown. Ethan Bartlow dominated this game despite Georgetown coming back to win 2-1 en route to Georgetown winning the 2019 College Cup. Ethan Bartlow also had a strong performance at the 2020 MLS College Invitational Combine so Houston getting our second best player at 6 is like when New England got Henry Kessler last year.
The 5-9 150 lb Bret Halsey can play left wing, right wing, attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder, center back, left back, or right back with his versatility. His size will limit him to either a winger, defensive midfielder, or fullback role on the outside at right back since he's more comfortable at right back. Bret Halsey is the final Generation Adidas prospect in this draft so I understand why Real Salt lake took him at 7.
I posted a film cut of Virginia midfielder Bret Halsey VS Virginia Tech. Brett Halsey can be an attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder, center back, left back, or right back. He can play anywhere at midfielder or on defense like Philip Mayaka. He's a good passer with great decision making on both ends, but he needs to get stronger. Halsey doesn't have the upside of Daniel Pereira, but I'd argue he's got a better floor making him a safer prospect to draft.
Orlando City S.C. gets Derek Dodson here after giving the Portland Timbers $100,000 in allocation money. The 6-0 162 lb Derek Dodson had 11 goals, 8 assists, and 30 points in 2019. He was Georgetown's striker on their 2019 team that won the NCAA College Cup. Dotson scored the game-winning goal against Washington in the Ethan Bartlow film cut I did and I'm okay with doing a film cut of him after our draft stream because Dodson is a great prospect. Orlando City S.C. has Santiago Patino and Darryl Dike which is why they got a B grade for giving up $100,000 in allocation money to move up to 8.
The 6-1 185 lb David Egbo had 13 goals, 5 assists, and 31 points in his sophomore year in 2018 when he led Akron to the 2018 College Cup Final where Maryland defeated Akron. David Egbo also led Akron with 7 goals, 4 assists, and 18 points in 2019.
Vancouver needed a striker. This pick feels like a slight reach. The thing you have to take into account is Egbo led Akron in points in both 2018 and 2019 despite not producing as much as you would like him too. That's why the worst grade I can give Vancouver is a B- at 9.
The 5-10 160 lb Josh Penn had 6 goals, 2 assists, and 14 points in his freshman season at Indiana. He signed with Indiana Eleven in 2020 due to Indiana's soccer season in the Fall being cancelled due to Covid-19.
Josh Penn could be a good right winger for Inter Miami C.F. He's the top right winger in this draft. However, I felt Inter Miami C.F. really needed to address the back line. They lost Ambros, traded Roman Torres to Seattle, traded another center back. I like Penn and think he can succeed at right wing. The reason this pick got a B- grade is because it's a slight reach in terms of value along with the fact that Inter Miami C.F. really needed to improve the back line.
Freddy Kleemann has good tape for a center back. He's not a guy with great tape. However, he plays for a big school. Josh Bauer does have great tape so that's my reasoning for the B- grade. Austin F.C. got a center back and filled a need though so you have to give them some credit for that.
The 6-4 194 lb Freddy Kleemann played center back at Washington complimenting Ethan Bartlow. Freddy Kleemann is taller and just as lethal when it comes to defending on the back line as Bartlow despite being not as offensively gifted as Bartlow. Freddy Kleemann is considered the top junior redshirt with a degree in this years draft so if Austin FC loves his upside you cannot fault them for slightly reaching because this pick may end up working out.
San Jose usually gets a premium value pick in the MLS Super Draft. This time they reached big time by taking someone outside my top sixty. However, San Jose is in California so the Earthquakes may know something about Williamson that the rest of the league doesn't. That's the only reason the Earthquakes got spared from the dreaded F grade.
Luther Archimede appears extremely raw based ont he highlights I saw when he was picked. I've interviewed a few Syracuse players and I can see why the Red Bulls think this guy could be the next Bradley Wright-Phillips.
The 6-2 170 lb Luther Archimede is 21-years-old. He only has two years of experience at the NCAA level as he played College overseas in France his first two seasons before transferring to Syracuse.
LAFC: Daniel Trejo, F, Cal State NorthridgeB- Grade
LAFC goes for depth at striker rather than addressing the back line. I had a second round grade on Trejo, but he could be one of the steals of this draft. The 5-9 165 lb Daniel Trejo is one of the most consistent goal scoring strikers in this class. Trejo had 7 goals in 2017, 10 goals in 2018, and won Big West Conference Player of the year in 2019. His consistent play speaks for itself and honestly, you cannot fault a team if they choose to spend a first round pick on Trejo.