So... how ‘bout that 2016 draft class? Keegan Rosenberry kills it in Philly, Jack Harrison comes back in the middle of the season to take over NYCFC, and the Jonathan Campbell bandwagon takes off in Chicago (or maybe I'm alone in that one). What wonders will be in store for us in this season’s draft class? Only time will tell, but here are the best of the class of 2017.
Defender, Notre Dame
To start, we don’t have to look far from home as the consensus number one (at least Top Drawer Soccer says so) is right in South Bend with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This 6’3” computer science major is one of those center backs who get up there on the attack on set pieces and late in close games, hence his 9 goals this season. In fact, it seems that at times they like to move him over to the right so that he can help. So far in his college career he's gotten 15 goals and 4 assists, so you can kind of tell he's only been trusted on the attack recently (plus he started taking PKs this year). For accolades, he was on Harry Shipp’s Championship ND team and just made it to the All-ACC First Team. As I read more about this guy, the comparison that keeps popping into my head is Paolo Maldini (more in style than in skill level), so it would be interesting to see how he does.
Jorge Gomez Sanchez
Now comes our first non-American player on the list. This guy comes from the Osasuna academy and has only played a couple of seasons, but he put up consistent numbers between them. Last year he scored 13 goals and dished out 5 assists, while this year he got similar (but noticeably lesser) numbers with 12 goals and 3 dimes (I like basketball words, they’re fun!). For all the talk about his attacking ability, Jorge has said himself that he enjoys defending so he may be a midfielder after all. For those who like facts (RESULTS!): Sanchez is 5’8” and was first team All-East this year. It looks like he might have an interesting career ahead of him whether he stays the course in MLS or even goes back home.
Midfielder, Wake Forest
One of those fancy prospects from the US Developmental Academy, Hayes hasn’t done that much, but what he’s done has apparently impressed some people (not including me since I forgot to watch the entire college season). His stats show that he started off as a distributor, but has recently moved to becoming the midfield goalscorer (with the “dime-dropping” responsibilities being moved onto another player we will get to soon). Overall he has scored and assisted 15 times, but 8 of those goals are this year and only 3 assists were chalked up for him in 2016. At 5’7” I can only assume he’s more of a winger than a CM, but even if he isn’t, maybe that would be a smart move considering where he seems to be going with his style of play. His accolades look unimpressive, but trust me, the ACC is really tough in soccer. He made the All-ACC Freshman and later landed a spot on the All-ACC First Team as a junior. He also made it to being a MAC Hermann Semi-finalist and is #20 on Top Drawer, so there’s that!
Here comes a guy you’ve probably heard of. Wait you haven’t? Weird. This guy is the great Tommy Thompson’s younger brother... you don’t know him either do you? Well let’s just say, his brother is a very important San Jose homegrown player, but Tanner is completely available. This past year he was an All-American and an All-Big Ten first-teamer. Though he’s only gotten 18 goals in his time at Bloomington, he’s become known this year for being pretty clutch. He scored 4 game-winning goals (which is totally a statistic that colleges keep) out his 8 goals all season. One skill that lacked however is the same as Jacori’s problem— distribution. He acquired 19 dimes all four years, but only 3 came from his senior year. Maybe he’s focusing on scoring, but he’s dropped pretty far on TD from previous polls, sitting at just #26 now on the site. So it couldn’t hurt to go back to what he was doing right before. At least what he is doing got him onto the MAC Hermann semi-finalists list.
Forward, UC Santa Barbara
Nick here is an interesting case. A forward who throughout his college career has packed away the goals and collected accolades, suddenly stopping all that in his senior year. Coming into this year, Nick had scored 25 goals in three years and was just off of being a MAC Hermann semi-finalist and an All-American. He followed that up by scoring a (comparatively) measly 6 goals. He continued his streak of All-Big West first team appearances and Big West Offensive POY awards, but he dropped from being one of the highest ranked players in the preseason to just #40 at mid-season (trust me, it didn’t get much better). So is that just an off-season? Was it nerves? Or is he finally calming down after a hot start? Whoever picks this guy up better play him enough for me to find out so I can tell more people “I told you so”. I say he’s not going anywhere (unless he gets picked by the Fire, then I have to hope he does something).
So everyone around here apparently likes “no-brainer” English attackers out of college, right? Well have I got the guy for you! This young man (what am I saying, all these guys are older than me) was at one time compared to and on the same last as names like Jordan Morris, Cyle Larin, and the Mother of Dragons himself (Joey Calistri)! He never quite made it onto a “First Team”, but was solidly on the All-Conference and All-American second teams. I don’t know why he stayed there as he has the most impressive shot accuracy I have seen in all of my (two) years of scouting! Out of 206 shots, he got on frame 103 times. For those who don’t like doing math on their own (I feel you) that’s exactly 50% accuracy. The dude bats .500! And with those 103 SOGs, he’s converted on 41 of those! He’s not that much of a physical specimen, standing at 5’9”, but he does have a solid pedigree coming out of the West Brom academy. TD puts him at #10 and honestly, I had to think hard about not putting him in the next article.
Speaking of which...
So you may notice a couple of key players (that I have mentioned before) are missing. Where are they? They're in the next article, so be patient and we'll see where we go with it; because next round we’re going to trust the process and be disciplined against our plan by deciding who would be the best players for the Fire.