Sofiane: The NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship field of 48 is upon us. Many MLS scouts, sporting/ops directors are scattered all over the country. What value does the tournament add or take away from a prospect depending on the performance of the college team and/or the player?
The Tournament is important because it provides a national platform - depending on how far a team advances of course - and with more eyeballs on teams, the opportunity is there for players to demonstrate the ability to cope with the pressure and show they have what it takes to play in MLS with way more eyeballs on them than normal.
Of course, performances in those games aren't the final influence in a team's decision making. Good scouting - which varies from team to team - will have watched these players for far longer, so even a shaky game or two shouldn't deter a team completely. It won't help a player's case, of course, if he does struggle.
Sofiane: The Montreal Impact hold the 8th spot in the 1st round and potential another 1st round (18th or 19th from Houston). Even if it still early for a definitive draft list, which players are hovering around the 8th spot for the 2013 MLS Super Draft ?
It's hard to know for sure. You can check out some names from our positional rankings (http://www.topdrawersoccer.com/college-soccer-articles/pro-prospects:-ranking-mls-talent_aid28074) and a mock draft (http://www.topdrawersoccer.com/college-soccer-articles/2013-mls-superdraft-mock-draft-v-10_aid28073). But a lot of what will shape Montreal's action is who signs with the Generation adidas class, how many players, and who is obviously drafted before these players.
Last year, the Rookie of the Year, Austin Berry, was still available at No. 8. That goes to show you that the pick could very well unearth a starter, if the Impact have any interest in playing young American or Canadian players (sorry can't resist).
Past No. 8 picks have included some good selections (Matt Besler, Sporting KC) and some real busts (Josh Lambo, Jerson Monteiro).
Sofiane: The Montreal Impact have an Academy in which it is putting a lot of hope to produce professional soccer players for the MLS. With the U18, U16 playing in the USSDA league, the club is integrating the same system as many other MLS clubs. The U21 team plays in the CSL in which players play more games than College players.
Do you see that as an edge or a disadvantage for the Montreal Impact? Is there a clash of style between the European style of ‘'producing'' professional players and the College system?
Of course there is a clash. One of the many, many problems in North America is a lack of opportunities for players ages 18-22. And with the lure of a possibly free education because a player is good at soccer, how do you turn that down? Even if it leaves you worse off as a player, all that an MLS club will offer is a deal between 35k-50k a year.
I like the idea of a U21 team - more teams need to explore this option and provide an avenue for development that way. However, the clash of NCAA tradition is always going to be at war in some ways with MLS and youth development. It's very hard to know just how things might pan out.
I'm not sure of the level of Montreal's U21 team and how it may help a player in his development, but it's likely more promising than a player in a college setup. However, there's no way to definitively know that for sure.
Sofiane: The Montreal Impact have 3 Akron Zips in its squad: Zarek Valentin, Evan Bush and Sinisa Ubiparipovic. With Caleb Porter taking over the Portland Timbers at the conclusion of the NCAA season for Akron, will we see a big move for Akron alumni to join Caleb's Timbers?
It would be a bit of a surprise to see them move on. I'm not sure of their status in Montreal, but I think Porter realizes that players won't simply all be able to descend on Portland to rejoin their former coach.
Maybe Porter makes a move for Valentin, who we haven't seen much of lately.