Just as the 2017 Major League Soccer Combine got underway, representatives from all the the SB Nation’s MLS blogs participated in the annual Mock Draft. The draft simulated the first two rounds of the draft to occur at the end of this month. The rules were straightforward: 1) Each club had two minutes to draft a player and, as before, 2) no trades or timeouts were allowed.
Situated somewhere in the middle of the pack for both rounds, Real Salt Lake looked to gain depth in positions than really go after a day-one starter. So who was selected?
Pick No. 13: Reagan Dunk, D, Denver
A senior starlet at the University of Denver, Dunk just came off a season that earned him many national accolades.
Not too often do you find a defender that excels in both the defensive and offensive aspects of the game. Nimble on his feet and with a serious burst of pace, he has the tendency to look to feed attacking players in the opposition’s box. Dunk’s attacking prowess was on display when Denver took on Wake Forest. With some clever footwork, Wake’s Jacori Hayes and Ian Harkes were left to look like children on the pitch as Dunk frustrated them the entire match. Dunk can get up and down the flank just like Odoi-Atsem, however, the Denver alum serves a much better final ball.
Dunk is versatile, playing left back, center back, and right back when called upon in college. The young defender maintained a double digit shutout record for three of the last four years. In total, Dunk has 42 career shutouts in college and was know for only allowing four goals in 81 matches with the Pioneers. He will have to work on his 1-v-1 defensive ability in MLS, however, but both Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert can mentor him there. The idea with taking Dunk would be providing a back-up for Beltran, while also providing a little bit of a different skill-set for the evolving organization.
Pick No. 35: Nazeem Bartman, F, South Florida
Much like Dom Dwyer before him, Nazeem Bartman is also pursuing one of those circuitous only-in-America soccer storylines.
Like Dwyer, Bartman found himself tearing up the Junior College scene with 34 goals and 19 assists in two years. His outstanding ability in front of goal lead the Tyler Junior College Apaches to the 2014 NJCAA national title and a national player of the year title. Once again, in a similar trajectory of Dwyer, Bartman’s accolades did not go unnoticed as he brought his skills to the University of South Florida. In his first year with the team, he scored eight goals, including five match winners, and earned himself a space on the Hermann Trophy watch list.
While his senior year must have been disappointing with only six goals, and lacking both MLS academy connections and Generation adidas visibility, his workrate has never diminished, earning him First Team All-American Athletic Conference honors both years with South Florida. The subtext to his story is that pro-soccer is calling and Bartman will answer the call. Never the type of player to come out of a match early, he will fit perfectly with the workhorse like attitude of the rest of the Claret-and-Cobalt roster. Through it all, the 23 year-old striker should be hungry and looking to prove he belongs in the country’s top division.
What do you think of our draft picks? Do you agree or disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.