There has not been more than one area college player selected in the first round since Major League Soccer started its annual draft 20 years ago.
That could change today when the 2015 SuperDraft is held in Philadelphia.
Connor Hallisey (Granite Bay and Cal), Seth Casiple (Rocklin and Cal), Cameron Iwasa (Jesuit and UC Irvine) and Miguel Aguilar (Encina and USF) all showed well in the six-day MLS Combine that concluded Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Some, if not all, may have raised their stock enough to be one of the 21 first-round picks.
That doesn’t include UC Davis senior defender Ramon Martin Del Campo, who played high school soccer in Southern California.
Martin Del Campo was viewed as a top-10 pick entering the draft and he already has an MLS contract, but a poor performance at the combine has put him on the first-round bubble.
He trained with the San Jose Earthquakes and played for their Premier Development League team last season and was thought to be the front-runner for San Jose’s No. 4 pick. But MLS analysts say the U.S. National U-23 player’s subpar combine performance, plus new Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear’s want for more speed at forward, makes Martin Del Campo a longshot selection at that slot.
Republic FC diehards will watch that pick closely because Sacramento has had an affiliation agreement with San Jose. The Earthquakes’ first pick in the draft could wind up playing on loan this season with the defending USL Pro champions, as Quakes’ players Tommy Thompson, Adam Jahn, JJ Koval and Mike Fucito did last season.
Hallisey, who had a breakout senior season for Cal in landing All-Pacific-12 Conference honors, performed well in the combine and over the weekend signed an MLS contract, strengthening his bid for a first-round selection. MLS analysts Jonathan Yardley and Nick Sulat have him going to Sporting Kansas City with the No. 12 selection in their respective mock drafts.
“KC needs wingers, and Hallisey is the best left-sided attacking player in the draft,” Yardley said.
Aguilar, who played last year with the Portland Timbers U-23 team, produced raves with his dynamic play on the wing coming off the bench in the second half to score a goal and assist in his combine team’s 4-3 loss Sunday.
Sulat and MLS analyst Matthew Doyle have Aguilar going to Sporting Kansas City with the No. 20 pick; Yardley projects him as the No. 21 pick by the Los Angeles Galaxy.
“To reiterate: Aguilar really is a good fit for SKC,” Sulat said. “If they keep this pick and get the Dons attacker, they’ll have robbed the rest of the MLS blind.”
Iwasa also played well Tuesday, scoring twice and assisting on a third in a 5-1 win for his combine team.
Casiple, one of the more well-rounded players in the 72-man field, helped his Nitro Charge team finish 2-0-1, the best record in the combine.
Eight area players have been an MLS first-round pick. Christian Brothers forward Guillermo Jara (San Diego) was selected No. 7 by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first MLS College Draft in 1996.
The other first-rounders were midfielder Sasha Victorine (Rio Americano, UCLA), No. 11 by the Galaxy in 2000; defender Ryan Suarez (Oakmont, San Jose State), No. 7 by the then-Dallas Burn in 2001; defender Lee Morrison (Jesuit, Stanford), No. 12 by Dallas in 2002; goalie Steve Cronin (Bella Vista, Santa Clara), No. 10 by San Jose, 2004; defender Patrick Ianni (Lodi, UCLA), No. 8 by the Houston Dynamo in 2006; midfielder-defender Amobi Okugo (Jesuit, UCLA), No. 6 by the Philadelphia Union in 2010; and defender Jalil Anibaba (Davis, North Carolina), No. 9 by the Chicago Fire in 2011.
Defensive duo returns – Republic FC technical director Graham Smith said that center back Mickey Daly and defensive midfielder Ivan Mirkovic have signed new contracts, pending USL Pro approval.
They teamed with USL Pro Defensive Player of the Year Nemanja Vukovic and Emrah Klimenta to anchor a back line that allowed 31 goals in 31 USL Pro matches, including the playoffs.
Republic FC has 12 players from last season under contract. Smith said veteran forward Justin Braun has yet to accept a contract offer.
Smith said that he continues to talk with the agent for talented Brazilian midfielder Gilberto dos Santos Souza Jr. about rejoining Sacramento.
Smith said Republic FC will add up to eight players to fill out its initial 20-man roster during a four-day invitational tryout Jan. 26-29. Smith expects that up to 26 players will be invited to the tryout.
Road kicking – Republic FC will play the Fresno Fuego FC at Chukchansi Park in Fresno Feb. 7 and the Ventura County Fusion at Ventura College on Feb. 9 in friendlies against PDL teams to open the 2015 season.
Republic FC defeated the Fuego and the Fusion in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches last season.
Sacramento will open training camp Feb. 2 at Cosumnes River College.
Republic FC is scheduled to play its first home match at Bonney Field on Feb. 21 against the Earthquakes.
Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.