11813_farrellandrew_isi_mlstq0117133858 Tony Quinn/isiphotos.com
MLS Report

The Five MLS Draftees USMNT Fans Need to Know

Major League soccer teams picked 38 new players to join their ranks in Indianapolis on Thursday afternoon. Matt Thacker gives you five names to remember as they could be donning the Stars and Stripes.
BY Matt Thacker Posted
January 18, 2013
6:13 AM
The SuperDraft is a chance for MLS teams to build for the future or find a player who can immediately fill a hole. The draft is also an opportunity for fans to get a glimpse at some of the players who may one day compete for a spot on the U.S. national team. Here are five American players to watch:

Andrew Farrell (New England Revolution): No. 1 pick
How much did the New England Revolution want Andrew Farrell? They traded up from the No. 4 spot to No. 1 despite several highly-touted defenders being available in this year’s SuperDraft. Farrell, 20, led the University of Louisville’s stellar defense that conceded just 0.62 goals per game last year. He also earned a first-team All-American selection.

During college, he converted from midfielder to defender, although he still shows the technical ability of a midfielder. He primarily plays in central defense but can also play right back if needed. Many scouts considered Farrell to be the college defender most ready to immediately start at the professional level. He will try to follow in the footsteps of former Louisville teammate Austin Berry, who quickly earned a starting job and won 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year.

Carlos Alvarez (Chivas USA): No. 2
Midfielder Carlos Alvarez may have been an unorthodox pick at No. 2 since many believed he would have been available later in the draft, but the new man in charge of Chivas USA had no doubts. Head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola said in a statement that Alvarez was one of the few players at the Combine ready to start in Major League Soccer. He plans to use the 22-year-old Mexican-American in the No. 10 spot as a playmaker.

While some will automatically question the talent of a four-year college player or wonder if Alvarez was chosen because his father played for Chivas de Guadalajara, none of that should distract from his talent. He finished his career at the University of Connecticut with an impressive 42 assists in 82 matches. He will clearly have an opportunity to feature for Chivas USA, and if he takes advantage, he could make an intriguing option for Jurgen Klinsmann, who has been public about his desire to incorporate Latin American players on the team. If so, Alvarez would have a choice to make. He has been called into Under-20 national team camps for the U.S. (2008) and Mexico (2009).

Erik Hurtado (Vancouver Whitecaps): No. 5
No one’s draft stock rose faster in the last couple of weeks than 22-year-old striker/winger Erik Hurtado. The former U.S. Under-18 national team member scored 15 goals his senior season at Santa Clara University. He finished his college career with 33 goals and 20 assists. Hurtado also scored six goals in 10 matches in the Premier Development League, but his real breakout came at the Combine where he received rave reviews.

The selection fits with the Whitecaps’ effort to return to a speedier attacker, so it is likely he will have opportunities to play. Whether his Combine performance was fool’s gold or a hint of what is to come remains to be seen.

Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas): No. 7
Walker Zimmerman may have the most national team potential of all the players in the SuperDraft. He’s also the most well known to those who follow the youth national teams. Some prognosticators had Zimmerman as the No. 1 selection, but he fell to a grateful FC Dallas at No. 7. Listed at 6'3" and 185 pounds, the 19-year-old defender from Furman has a rare combination of strength and athleticism. He scored six goals and added three assists in just 17 matches as a sophomore last year.

He captained the Under-18 national team during the 2011 Milk Cup and now plays for the Under-20 national team. The question for Zimmerman will be immediate playing time. Dallas is set in central defense with Ugo Ihemelu, George John, and Matt Hedges. Unless there are plans for a trade, Zimmerman might struggle to get on the field.

Eriq Zavaleta (Seattle Sounders): No. 10
Could a player who finished third in the nation in goals scored end up as a defender in Major League Soccer? That’s a strong possibility for Eriq Zavaleta, who scored 18 goals in 24 matches while leading Indiana University to a national championship last year. The 20-year-old first-team All-American played as a forward for IU but has been a center back with the U.S. youth national teams. That confusion regarding his best position may be the reason he fell to No. 10 where the Seattle Sounders traded up to get him.

Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told the Seattle Times that he likes Zavaleta as a defender but is keeping an open mind. Zavaleta helped lead the U.S. to the 2009 Under-17 World Cup round of 16 and is part of the player pool for the U-20 team.

Other players to watch: Dillon Powers (Colorado Rapids), Blake Smith (Montreal Impact), Mikey Lopez (Sporting Kansas City)

Matt Thacker (@MattTalksSoccer) is ASN's MLS Correspondent. He runs SoccerPerspectives.com.

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