One of the loyals on this blog is Dave Clark from Sounder at Heart, and Dave spoke to a coach at the MLS combine about his observations. You can find them here.
I asked Dave to ask this coach about F O’Brian White, who apparently is not at the combine but is a guy I have heard that Sounders FC likes a possible No. 1 pick. White is recovering from a knee injury suffered in late November.
“He’s not here, but he’s got the talent to be No. 1.,” the coach told Clark.
The combine participants are back at it today. It’s the final day of matches and then the combine ends.
Also there seems to be a bit of a buzz that D Omar Gonzalez could be the top pick, though reviews on him from the combine haven’t generally been good. Here’s a snippit of what I found on ESPN.com in its look back at the 2008 collegiate season:
Biggest Disappointment (player): O’Brian White, F, Connecticut
After White scored 23 goals and won the Hermann Trophy in 2007, many observers suggested the Jamaican-born striker should cash in with the pros rather than return to UConn for his senior year. Sure enough, White found the target only six times in 14 tilts before a knee injury torpedoed his (and the Huskies’) season.
Best Pro Prospect: Omar Gonzalez, D, Maryland
Just a junior, Gonzalez is blessed with the physical tools (6-foot-5, 206 pounds) that pro scouts salivate over. If he does decide to forego his final season, the former U.S. U-17 national team forward-turned-center back could be the top pick in next month’s MLS SuperDraft. Many have compared the Dallas native to giant Columbus Crew rook Andy Iro. That’s a compliment, but some are convinced Gonzalez has better feet and is quicker than the former UC Santa Barbara captain.
Expansion Seattle Sounders FC is slated to select first and its coach, ex-Crew boss Sigi Schmid, is a big fan of Iro, who he took sixth overall in 2008. You’d think Schmid would probably jump at the chance to land Gonzalez, even if he’s also likely to attract interest from teams in Europe as well as Mexico, where his parents were born.
Best Player: Steve Zakuani, Akron
After leading the nation in scoring with 20 goals and seven helpers, Zakuani is the clear frontrunner for the Hermann Trophy. The other finalists are quality Wake Forest seniors Marcus Tracy and Sam Cronin, but if Zakuani doesn’t win in a landslide it would be a travesty. If he does, the 6-foot forward from Zaire (via London) would become just the third sophomore to earn college soccer’s highest individual honor, which the Missouri Athletic Club will award in St. Louis on Jan. 9.
Like Gonzalez, Zakuani is also a solid pro prospect. His seven game-winners this year suggest he has a knack for netting important goals, and he already has a more impressive pedigree than most scholastic stars: He trained in Arsenal’s youth system until he was 15 and his older brother has played professionally in England since 2002.