Real Salt Lake got my second best Generation Adidas player on the board. I had three players graded ahead of Bertin Jacquesson, but this is an outstanding value pick because Real Salt Lake never replaced Albert Rusnak at left wing and now Real Salt Lake has their future winger.
Bertin Jacquesson can play the 7 at right winger, the 9 at striker, and the 11 at left winger. He's best utilized in a winger role though. Bertin Jacquesson gives Real Salt Lake a potential replacement to Albert Rusnak which is something Real Salt Lake lacked in 2022 after Rusnak left the team.
The 6-0 160 lb Bertin Jacquesson is a three year starter at Pittsburgh with the versatility to play both spots on the wing. Bertin Jacquesson had 4 goals, 7 assists, and 15 points in the Fall of 2020 and Spring of 2021 winning ACC Freshman of the Year. Bertin Jacquesson had 7 goals, 11 assists, and 25 points as a sophomore in 2021. Bertin Jacquesson had 8 goals, 5 assists, and 21 points as a junior in 2022. Bertin also scored the game-winning goal for Pittsburgh to knock out the top seed Kentucky Wildcats in the Sweet 16 who were undefeated heading into that game. That big play by Bertin Jacquesson saved his chances of being a Generation Adidas prospect.
The 21-year-old Bertin Jacquesson has elite kicking power and deadly speed on the attack. His kicking accuracy is up and down at times, but someone will take Bertin Jacquesson in the first round now that he's Generation Adidas player. Real Salt Lake will use him as a replacement to Albert Rusnak, so he can play effective at the 11 at left winger without having to score all the time since Sergio Cordova and Ilijah Paul are gonna take some pressure off of him. If teams try to hone in on Cordova and Paul it's gonna create an opening for Bertin Jaquesson.
I had Abdi Salim at ninteen on my big board. Orlando City S.C. traded their starting right back to D.C. United to get the second pick in the 2023 MLS Super Draft. Orlando ended the day with three top 20 players including my number one attacking midfielder which was their biggest need at 2, the NCAA leading goal scorer at 6, and then the top right back in the draft after trading their starting right back away at 17.
The 6-1 177 lb Abdi Salim is versatile enough to play the 2 at right back, the 4 at sweeper, and the 5 at center back. Abdi Salim has started the last 11 games for Syracuse and had 13 starts on the year where Syracuse has recorded 6 of their 8 shutouts in those 13 starts. He's even shown he can step up at center back as a sweeper during the 2022 ACC Tournament as he started at center back for Buster Sjoberg, who missed that game with an injury. Abdi Salim looked like a potential All Star tackling Duncan McGuire on some key plays during the 2022 College Cup.
Abdi Salim played in all ten games where Syracuse recorded a shutout. Abdi Salim started ten of those games showcasing the speed and tackling ability that you want from an MLS right back at the 2.
Inter Miami C.F. is a team that could use a backup goalie, but this is a team that has stability at starting goalie. Cole Jensen was my third best goalie and I had a mid second round grade on him. There's still seven players with top twenty grades, and David Beckham's team decides to spend a first round pick on the third best goalie in this draft.
The 6-5 195 lb Cole Jensen plays the 1 at goalie. Cole Jensen started 18 games, allowed 16 goals, posted a 0.89 goals against average, recorded 59 saves, had a .787 save percentage, 8 shutouts, and a 9-2-7 record as a junior redshirt before winning the 2022 Big East Goalie Of The Year Award.
Previous Big East Goalie Of The Year winners include Georgetown goalie Giannis Nikopoldis who won Big East Goalie Of The Year in 2019 and 2020 in the Spring of 2021 and St. John's goalie Luka Garvan who won the Big East Goalie Of the Year Award in the Fall of 2021. Both of those Big East goalies were drafted in the 2022 MLS Super Draft. Garvan was a big goalie at 6-6 200 lbs and there's a reason Toronto F.C. took him with their first pick in the second round of the 2022 MLS Super Draft. Cole Jensen isn't as refined as Luka Garvan was and Garvan had 6 shutouts in MLS Next in 2022. With Alex Bono gone, Luka Garvan is a candidate to get promoted to MLS at some point next season for Toronto F.C.
Cole Jensen is kind of raw. At the same time, he's got enough potential to be the Inter Miami C.F.'s starting goalie in the MLS by 2025 if he develops properly in MLS Next. Most have Jensen as the second best goalie in the 2023 MLS Super Draft behind High Point goalie Holden Trent, but my issue with Jensen is he's a one year starter despite his impressive size. Cole Jensen is my third best goalie in the 2023 MLS Super Draft behind Russell Shealy and Holden Trent who I had first round grades on. Drafting Shealy or Trent would have gotten Inter Miami C.F. B grade instead of a D grade.
The 5-11 134 lb Ryan Jiba is versatile enough to play the 2 at right back or the 3 at left back. He played at Salt Lake Community College before joining Union Omaha in USL1. He was one of the late additions to the MLS dropbox prior to the 2023 MLS Super Draft. This pick feels like a reach, but I'll give Minnesota United F.C. a C grade here.
Nashville S.C.'s 2023 first round pick was sent to Charlotte FC when they excersized the option to swap first round picks with Charlotte FC who picked at eleven. Then, Charlotte FC moved up from 20 to 1 and sent 20 to St. Louis City S.C.
Austin FC gave up $100,000 in Allocation money to St. Louis City SC and moved up to 20. Austin FC selected Valentin Noel out of Pittsburgh.
The 5-10 150 lb Valentin Noel has started every game at Pittsburgh since his freshman season since 2019. He's one of the more consistent players in this draft class.
Valentin Noel had 3 goals, 3 assists, and 9 points as a freshman in 2019 at midfielder. Noel had 8 goals, 2 assists, and 18 points in the Fall of 2020 before having 6 goals and 12 more points in the Spring of 2021 giving Noel 14 goals, 2 assists, and 30 points as a sophomore while also being one of three finalists for the Hermann Trophy.
Valentin Noel had 7 goals, 5 assists, and 19 points as a junior in the Fall of 2021. Valentin Noel had 11 goals, 3 assists, and 25 points as a senior in 2022. Pittsburgh got to two College Cups in three years while Noel asserted himself as the leader of Pittsburgh's soccer team in 2022. Noel scored thee game-winning goal for Pittsburgh in double overtime of an elite 8 game against Portland in the 2022 College Cup to send Pittsburgh to their second final four in three years.
He could get drafted and end up playing that final season at Pittsburgh in 2023 before signing his MLS Contract to turn pro in 2024. Just something to keep an eye on moving forward leading up to the 2023 MLS Super Draft. I'm expecting Noel to get drafted and sign with a team though.
Valentin Noel can play the 6 at defensive midfielder, the 7 at right winger, the 8 at central midfielder, the 9 at striker, the 10 at atttacking midfielder, or the 11 at left winger. Valentin Noel is a jack of all trades player with outstanding leadership and a tremendous work ethic.
I posted a film cut of Pittsburgh midfielder Valentin Noel versus North Carolina. I've also added thumbnails to my videos for 2023 MLS Draft prospects. I'm hoping to add more of these thumbnails to my Youtube videos in other sports for film cuts to get viewership up.
Also, I got the Valentin Noel interview up on Talkshoe. Also, I got the episode up on Anchor so you can listen to it while reading this mock draft. Noel's interview was the longest interview in the history of Draft Utopia when I recorded it last year leading up to the 2022 MLS Super Draft.
The 6-4 195 lb Elian Haddock only had 2 shutouts in 2022 after having 5 shutouts in 2021 while winning the 2021 Ivy League Goalie Of The Year award. Those two shutouts that Elian Haddock had for Yale came against Villanova and Columbia, plus Elian Haddock wasn't at the 2022 MLS College Showcase while Cole Jensen was. If Yale had pitched a shutout against Ivy League Champion Penn or Ivy League Sweet 16 team Cornell, then you could have justified taking him here. Elian Haddock didn't even have a single game with 10 saves all season at Yale in 2022. His most impressive game was a road contest against Duke where Yale managed to tie Duke in a 1-1 draw.
I would argue that makes the Elian Haddock selection quite puzzling. Seven goalies made my final 2023 MLS Mock Draft and Elian Haddock just missed the cut, but there are a few things that save this pick from being the first F grade of this draft.
For starters, this was the first two time captain on Yale's soccer team since 1945. The second thing is that this goalie from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin already has experience in MLS Next meaning his learning curve from the NCAA to the MLS will be a quicker transition. Those two qualities alone are why I cannot give this pick an F grade here despite this selection being a massive reach here and easily the worst pick of the first round with both of my first round goalies Russell Shealy and Holden Trent still on the board.
The 6-3 185 lb Joey Akpunonu was the best player on the board for FC Cincinnati. What a haul for FC Cincinnati here as FC Cincinnati got my fifth best player at twenty two overall.
Joey Akpunonu led Bowling Green with 6 goals, 12 points, and helped Bowling Green record 7 shutouts in their 16 games after losing Bowling Green center back Jacob Earlandson, who was drafted in the second round of the 2022 MLS Super Draft. Joey Akpunonu was part of a Bowling Green backline that allowed one goal or less in 15 of the Bowling Green Falcons 16 regular season games. The only team that scored two goals on Bowling Green was Western Michigan, the eventual 2022 MAC Champions, and that two goal game for Western Michigan was a home contest for the Western Michigan Broncos against Bowling Green.
Joey Akpunonu can play the 4 at sweeper and the 5 at center back. He has the speed, stamina, passing, kicking power, kicking accuracy, tackling, ability to intercept passes with headers, vision, and soccer IQ to be a very good two-way defender that makes an impact offensively and defensively in the MLS. Joey Akpunonu has a 4.0 GPA and plans on becoming a doctor if his MLS career doesn't work out. His character is through the roof and he's a top 5 pick in the 2023 MLS Super Draft after a strong junior season at Bowling Green.
The Los Angeles Galaxy get a left winger here in the first round round. Gino Vivi the left winger on Central Florida entered the preseason as a first round pick, but had an underwhelming senior season after a promising junior campaign.
The 5-6 148 lb Gino Vivi had 7 goals, 6 assists, and 20 points as a junior in the Fall of 2021. Gino Vivi had 2 goals, 5 assists, and 9 points in 2022. Despite regressing as a senior, Gino Vivi was the final player in my mock draft that got an invite to the 2022 MLS College Showcase and he really impressed scouts at the 2022 MLS College Showcase with his feet which may be why my favorite MLS team was willing to look past him regressing as a senior because he showed he's got the hops, vision, dribbling, and kicking accuracy that you want from a winger. He's a depth player at the very worst, and could develop into a starter at the eleven if he can improve his kicking power.
The 5-10 152 lb Herbert Endeley is versatile enough to play the 7 at right winger, the 8 at central midfielder, the 9 at striker, the 10 at attacking midfielder, and the 11 at left winger. Herbert Endeley had 4 goals, 6 assists, and 14 points in 2022.
Herbert Endeley has the speed, versatility, vision, passing, kicking power, and composure to look at the positives that a team accomplished even after losing an event like the College Cup in heartbreaking fashion. In fact I'd argue that Endeley has a top 5 leg in this draft if we're just grading players on kicking power alone. Endeley's kicking accuracy is inconsistent, but if a team gambles on him and refines that part of his game up, they could be getting a star player down the road. At the very worst, Herbert Endeley will be a serviceable depth player on F.C. Dallas.
The 5-9 155 lb Emeka Eneli had 7 goals, 7 assists, and 21 points in the Fall of 2021. Emeka Eneli had 4 goals, 7 assists, and 15 points in 2022.
I had a third round grade on Emeka Eneli. If Real Salt Lake wants to put him in a depth role at left winger, striker, and right winger he's got a chance to be a solid wild card player off of the bench.
Malcolm Johnston is a superb value pick for New York City F.C. I only had one player graded ahead of Malcolm Johnston this late in the first round.
The 6-0 175 lb Malcolm Johnston is a two year team captain from Maryland. He's also the one of the top Canadian players in the 2023 MLS Super Draft. He played the 6 at defensive midfielder, the 7 at right winger, and the 8 at central midfielder throughout his career at Maryland.
You have to look past Malcolm Johnston only having 2 goals, 1 assist, and 5 points in the Fall of 2021. Malcolm Johnston had 6 goals, 8 assists, and 20 points in 2022. The leadership and energy he brings to your squad is infectious. That's why I'd take him over any of the goalie options in this years draft.
New York City F.C. had one International roster slot left. They can use that roster slot on Allstair Johnston's younger brother Malcolm Johnston Allstair said his little brother is better than him even though Allstair left the MLS to play overseas.
Austin FC owned this pick before trading it to the Houston Dynamo F.C. when moving up to 13. Houston traded three first round picks away for Allocation money. Columbus gave up $50,000 in Allocation money to move up to this slot
Columbus Crew gets one of my two Atlantic ten players that really wowed me. The two players that wowed me were Andrew Mitchell of Loyola Chicago who had 8 headers off of interceptions against Duquense and Dayton center back Xavier Zengue. Andrew Mitchell wasn't on the 2023 MLS Draft list while hometown prospect Xavier Zengue from North Oaks, Minnesota was on the 2023 MLS Super Draft list.
The 6-0 165 lb Xavier Zengue had 2 goals, 1 assist, 5 points, and helped Dayton record 7 shutouts in 2022. Xavier Zengue has the speed, tackling, passing, vision, kicking power, and kicking accuracy on passes that you want. You'd like to see him continue to improve his kicking accuracy on shots, but he's got so many good traits that you look for in a defender. He's versatile enough to play the 4 at sweeper or the 5 at center back.
Xavier Zengue is faster than both of the center backs that Columbus drafted in the 2022 MLS Super Draft when Columbus took Phillip Quinton and Jacob Earlandson. Even though I had a second round grade on Zengue, Columbus probably knows more about him then most MLS teams. I also think the fact that he's faster then the other two center backs helps from an upside perspective.
He looks like a player that's versatile enough to play the 2 at right back, the 3 at left back, the 4 at sweeper, and the 5 at center back. This was a strong under the radar pick by Columbus. One can argue that if Xavier Zengue wins the starting left back job on Columbus that this is an A+ or A grade instead of an A- grade from a value standpoint.
The Philadelphia Union currently have the leagues best goalie in the MLS with Andre Blake. Now the Union got a really good backup to Blake, who could end up being Andre Blake's successor down the road.
Syracuse goalie Russell Shealy and High Point goalie Holden Trent were my only first round goalies. I had the two goalies at 25 and 27 in my final mock draft with both goalies ranked 25th and 26th overall on my final big board.
The 6-2 165 lb Holden Trent is a natural 1 at goalie. Holden Trent went 10-5-5 on the year after leading High Point to a Big South Tournament Championship. Holden Trent had 58 saves, a 1.14 goals against average, a .707 save percentage, and 8 shutouts with High Point in 2022. Holden Trent won Big South Goalie Of The Year for the second year in a row as he's won the award twice now in 2021 and 2022. Holden Trent felt confident after his performance at the 2022 MLS College Showcase.
Philadelphia could have drafted Russell Shealy or Holden Trent and would have landed an A+ grade from a value standpoint since I had both goalies in the top 26 with Philadelphia looking at a potential successor for Andre Blake down the road. Philadelphia took Holden Trent and this was an amazing pick by Philadelphia because if Holden Trent develops and pans out whenever Andre Blake retires, the Philadelphia Union could remain a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference until 2040.
Remember when the San Francisco 49ers had Joe Montana and Steve Young at quarterback? Essentially, that's what the Philadelphia Union have at goalie now with Andre Blake and Holden Trent. Steve Young didn't become the starting quarterback on the 49ers until he was 29 days before turning 30.
I could see Holden Trent's career playing out in very similar fashion as Steve Young's if he can maintain his roster spot on the Philadelphia Union which is the biggest reason the Union took a chance on Holden Trent. Blake is 32-years-old and turns 33 next November. Holden Trent is 23-years-old and was the most consistent goalie in the 2023 MLS Super Draft.
Andre Blake will remain the starting goalie on Philadelphia as long as he wants to play with their organization after the Philadelphia Union drafted Andre Blake first overall out of Connecticut in 2014. Nine years later, Philadelphia drafted High Point goalie Holden Trent after losing the 2022 MLS Cup to LAFC in penalty kicks.
Holden Trent is good enough to pick up where Blake left off once Blake makes the decision to move on from the Union or retire. All Holden Trent has to do is continue to work hard, earn respect from teammates, and win the trust from the Philadelphia Union organization over. It won't be easy, but Trent has the skillset to accomplish this. Holden Trent is one of the players I plan on interviewing on the podcast after the 2023 MLS Super Draft and I can't wait to ask him about how he feels about playing for the reigning Eastern Conference Champions.
The 5-10 185 lb Levonte Johnson had 9 goals, 8 assists, and 26 points in the Fall of 2021 at Seattle U. After participating in the 2021 MLS College Showcase and being denied a Generation Adidas offer, Levonte Johnson transferred to Syracuse in the Transfer Portal. Levonte Johnson had 11 goals, 6 assists, and 28 points in 25 starts with Syracuse in 2022 while being one of three Hermann Trophy finalists in this draft along with Duncan McGuire.
Levonte Johnson can play the 7 at right winger or the 9 at striker with his versatility. Levonte Johnson won't require an International roster slot since he's from Canada.
Vancouver has slayed it in three of their last four MLS Super Drafts. Vancouver took Ryan Raposo fourth overall in 2020. Vancouver dominated the 2022 MLS Super Draft when they got Simon Becher in the first round with 14 goals, 10 assists, and 34 points at Saint Louis in 2021,, Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvado from Clemson's 2021 College Cup team in the second round, Giovanni Aguilar from Cal State Northridge in the second round, and Theo Collomb 15 goals at UNC Greensboro in the third round while signing all of those draft picks to contracts.
Vancouver got J.C. Ngando who led the country in assists at 5 before getting Levonte Johnson, one of three Hermann trophy finalists with the final pick in the first orund. Essentially, Vancouver got my sixth and eighth best available players with their two first round picks in the 2023 MLS Super Draft.