With the Major League Soccer SuperDraft coming up later this month, the league has announced a list of top collegiate prospects who have been signed to MLS contracts.
MLS announces signing of 5 college seniors ahead of draft
They are the hottest college seniors heading into the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. So hot that they've already penned MLS deals.
MLS on Monday unveiled the names of five college seniors who earned league contracts before the SuperDraft, which will be held on Thursday, January 17, at the NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis.
The fab five are Connecticut midfielder Carlos Alvarez, Boston College midfielder Kyle Bekker, Maryland's John Stertzer and Notre Dame duo Ryan Finley and Dillon Powers.
UConn's Alvarez, a native of Los Angeles, is a central midfielder and expert passer who can change a game with his skills. Many have already slotted him as a high SuperDraft pick, potentially to Chivas USA given that his father played professionally with Chivas Guadalajara (watch his highlight reel and read his full scouting report here).
Stertzer was an all-around midfielder in college, who many expect will slot into defensive midfield in MLS. The NSCAA All-American and first-team All-ACC has earned comparisons to Mikey Stephens and Stephen King (read his full scouting report here).
Boston College's Bekker, a member of Canada's Olympic team, has a style of play in midfield that is being compared to New York Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty and D.C. United rookie Nick DeLeon (read his full scouting report here).
A goalscorer extraordinaire and finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, Notre Dame's Finley has earned comparisons with Robbie Keane and Ruud van Nistelrooy with his nose for goal and his ability to run off the shoulder of defenders (watch his highlight reel and read his full scouting report here). He ranked second in the nation with 21 goals.
Finley's teammate, Dillon Powers, was the man supplying him with the service at Notre Dame. The US youth international and native of Plano, Texas played attacking midfielder in college, but he is projected to be more of a defensive or box-to-box midfielder in MLS (watch his highlight reel and read his full scouting report here).
All five players will be competing at the MLS Player Combine, which kicks off on Friday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
MLS unveils preliminary list of Generation adidas signings
MLS has also unveiled its preliminary list of college underclassmen signings who have penned Generation adidas contracts with the league and will be eligible for selection in the 2013 SuperDraft on January 17 at the NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis.
Defenders Walker Zimmerman (Furman) and Andrew Farrell (Louisville) join Mikey Lopez (University of North Carolina) and strikers Jason Johnson (Virginia Commonwealth University) and Eriq Zavaleta (Indiana University) as the first set of players to join the league before exhausting their college eligibility. All five players will participate in the 2013 MLS Player Combine, which kicks off this coming Friday, January 11.
Generation adidas players are typically among the top selections in the MLS SuperDraft, and they also do not count against a team's salary budget. As part of their contract, the college underclassmen also receive educational grants to continue their college education.
Zimmerman, a big marking center back and US Under-20 international, departs Furman after his sophomore season (see his full scouting report here). His 6-foot-3 frame made him a threat on both ends of the field in college.
Farrell was named Big East Defensive Player, a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist and first-team All-American as he anchored the Louisville backline (see his full scouting report here). But in addition to playing center back, Farrell can also feature at right back as well as defensive midfield.
Known as one of the best midfielders in the college game, Lopez was a fixture in the lineup for North Carolina(see his full scouting report here). Last year's ACC Freshman of the Year was a key figure on a team that captured the national title.
One of the most electric forwards in the NCAA ranks, Johnson (see his full scouting report here) has already made his debut for the senior Jamaican national team (February 10, 2010, vs. Argentina).
Zavaleta grabbed the national spotlight in December as Indiana made a run to the 2012 College Cup title with the sophomore striker registering the assist on the game-winner in the team's 1-0 victory over Georgetown.
At 6-foot-1, Zavaleta's frame may have helped him become a top-rated target forward, but it's the quality of his feet and distribution which excites many scouts. He scored 10 goals as a freshman and tallied another 18 in the recently concluded 2012 season.
Despite his scoring success, however, some scouts see Zavaleta's size and passing ability making him a potential candidate to be a central defender in MLS.
The 20-year-old Zavaleta is the son of former El Salvadoran national team player Carlos Zavaleta and he is the nephew of former MLS and US national team defender Greg Vanney.
The league says it expects to announce additional Generation adidas signings in the near future.