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MLS Draft 2012 Profile: Matt Hedges

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Matt Hedges, via MLSsoccer.com
Matt Hedges, via MLSsoccer.com

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.

This 6'-4" center back helped guide the University of North Carolina to a College Cup in 2011. Can he help guide D.C. United to an MLS Cup in 2012?

Matt Hedges might be the most MLS-ready player in the entire draft. He's a senior, so his salary will count against the cap for whatever MLS team selects him (unlike Generations Adidas defenders Tyler Polak and Andrew Jean-Baptiste), but unlike some of the younger players in the 2012 MLS Draft, there are few questions about Hedges. He's the closest to a sure-thing that you'll find among the defensive players available. I'm not exactly going to say he's the next Omar Gonzalez, but he has a chance to be something close. It's a chance United might not be able to pass up.

I'm unsure whether its good news or bad news that Hedges' stock appears to be falling slightly. He turned in a disappointing performance on the first day of the MLS Combine. Depending on how much importance MLS coaches place on the Combine, that could cause Hedges to fall down the draft board so that he might be available to Ben Olsen at the No. 7 pick.

If selected by United, Hedges would immediately compete with Dejan Jakovic for a starting job. And with Brandon McDonald's position established now as our defensive leader, the pressure won't be on Hedges to assume that responsibility. It could be a very nice fit for a team that desperately needs to improve its goals against average.