D.C. United owns the No. 7 overall pick in the 2012 MLS Draft. We're reviewing some of the top college soccer players who might be worth Ben Olsen's consideration in the first round.
There was, at one point, reason to believe that Creighton senior Ethan Finlay would last until the late first round or early second round in tomorrow's 2012 MLS SuperDraft. Despite finishing as the runner-up for the MAC Hermann Trophy - college soccer's MVP award - the fact that Finlay wasn't a Generation Adidas player, combined with the sheer number of attack-minded wide midfielders and forwards in the 2012 MLS Draft, some figured to see him drop out of the top 10.
That was before he did his best Dwayne De Rosario impression. After missing the combine's first set of games to be at the Hermann ceremony, Finlay essentially stepped off the plane, got a ride to the field, and scored a hat trick in just 17 first-half minutes (link includes highlights).
So that killed any hopes of teams picking late in the first round, but should those hopes have even existed? We're talking about a guy who was just named the 2nd best player in college soccer. Finlay is a two-time NSCAA All-American, College Soccer News First Team player coming off of a 14 goal/6 assist season (24 appearances) for one of the top college programs in the country. In other words, the hat trick only confirmed what good scouts already knew: Finlay is going to be a success as a pro.
So who is this kid? I prefer to describe him as an "attacker" because Finlay is the kind of player who makes things happen on offense from either flank as well as playing up front. His speed is probably in the B/B+ range, but he's very quick and shifty with the ball at his feet. Finlay also has a strong sense of timing, which allows him to put himself in scoring positions frequently. On a team that rewards goal-scoring wingers like United, he'd fit right in. Plus, his positional versatility would address our lack of depth on the flanks and up front.
I linked to the SB Nation mock draft earlier, where Finlay somehow fell to No. 22. I was thisclose to taking him at No. 7 instead of Nick DeLeon, and in both cases I felt like I was getting a steal. Since then, I've flipped between which player I'd prefer enough times to call it a tie. On my draft list, at least, the only players I'd list higher than Finlay would be Darren Mattocks and Andrew Wenger.