As the MLS Superdraft rapidly approaches, MLS fans will be hearing about the big names (Josh Yaro, Jack Harrison, Brandon Vincent, etc) and rightfully so, but there’s always a few players whose talent sneaks past MLS scouts and become hidden gems of the draft. Players by the names of Chris Wondolowski, Sean Johnson, and Tim Ream were all bypassed in the first round and have made stellar careers for themselves. Here we’ll take a look at a few underrated players who we believe could make a significant impact in MLS.
Tsubasa Endoh (Maryland): The Terps tricky winger has been a key fixture in their lineup for years and isn’t getting the credit he deserves. Endoh (5g, 6a), a Japanese youth international, is a crafty dribbler with an ability to find space and play in tight areas. At 5’7”, Endoh may get overlooked by many teams, but his technical ability alone, should put him in the conversation as a top midfielder in this draft class. The Terps #10 has performed well thus far at the MLS combine, hopefully boosting his stock ahead of next week’s draft.
Cole Seiler (Georgetown): The Hoyas center back is one of the most complete defenders in this draft, but is underrated due to his center back partner Josh Yaro, the likely #1 pick in this year’s draft. Seiler and Yaro combined to form one of the best back lines in college soccer over the past few seasons and Seiler has just as much to do with it as his teammate. Seiler (2g, 1a), a Big East All 2nd team honoree, has been a sturdy force starting in 86 of 87 games in his Hoya career. The 6’1” senior provides pace, great aerial ability, and reads the game very well. Whoever scoops up the former U.S. youth international will be getting a possible steal.
Ty Thompson (Stanford): Thompson, the brother of San Jose Earthquakes’ midfielder Tommy Thompson and Indiana midfielder Tanner Thompson, may not have the same hype as his brothers, but he could very well end up being just as good. The Cardinals midfielder was the anchor to a very talented Stanford attack that won the National Championship. Thomson (3a) isn’t the type of player to be coming up on the score sheet, but he’s arguably even more important. The two-time Pac-12 All 1st team honoree is the engine in the center of the park who wins every tackle and sprays the ball to allow the attacking players to produce their magic. Thompson reminds me of a Kyle Beckerman type player, always in the right spot and will battle until the final whistle. Thompson, a likely late round pick could be the surprise of the draft.
Justin Bilyeu (SIUE): Bilyeu (1g, 3a) is one of the best attacking outside backs in this draft. The 6’2” left back is a great athlete who reads the game very well. The rather unknown defender has definitely played his way into many MLS team’s draft boards with a stellar performance at the combine thus far. The Cougars’ defender comes from the same school as last year’s MLS rookie standout Matt Polster and there are definitely some positive similarities in work ethic and attitude. In a league that lacks consistent left backs, Bilyeu could be a later round pick who finds his way on the field in year one.
Neco Brett (Robert Morris):You wouldn’t think a player who amassed 42 goals in his career while being among the top in the country in scoring on two separate occasions would be underrated but the Jamaican youth international isn’t likely going to be a early round pick. Brett (13g, 5a), played in a small conference and takes up an international roster spot, two things which will make teams hesitant to draft the speedy forward. The three time NEC player of the year is dynamic enough to play as a #9 or on either flank, though he likely will find himself as a winger at the next level. Although he’s a bit raw still, a scorer’s mentality translates at any level so expect some MLS club to take a chance on the talented 5’8” senior.
Ben Roth will cover the 2016 MLS Draft for College Soccer News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Twitter: Benjiroth_16