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Dec 20, 2007

Goalkeeper pool solid but not special

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of previews for the 2008 SuperDraft.

With the MLS SuperDraft set to take place Jan. 18 in Baltimore, MLS teams are hard at work trying to identify the best talent coming out of college that will fill the four rounds of the SuperDraft and the four subsequent rounds of the Supplemental Draft. The bulk of the draft pool will be college seniors, but MLS also will sign around 10-20 underclassmen to the Generation adidas program and enter them into the SuperDraft pool.

So who should we expect to see in the SuperDraft and who are the talented players coming through? We'll start by taking a look at the goalkeepers.

There's no Chris Seitz or Brad Guzan-type can't-miss prospects in the senior class. There are a couple of underclassmen who might yet factor in this draft like U.S. youth international Josh Lambo or Cal sophomore Stefan Frei. However, since MLS has not announced any Generation adidas signings, I'll include only seniors for now.

Top Ten senior goalkeeping prospects

1. Jason Landers, St John's -- The 6-foot-7 and 200-pound Landers will get any MLS scout's attention, but it's the three straight seasons with a goals-against average below .80 in the Big East that really shows his talent. He was injured for part of his senior year and still made the All-Big East Third Team. The 2005 Big East Goalkeeper of the Year, Landers holds the Red Storm record for shutouts with 32 in three seasons of play.

2. Matt Allen, Creighton -- The 6-foot-3 Allen is the first two-time Metro Valley Conference Defender of the Year in conference history. He leaves Creighton with a school record 26 shutouts and 6,531 minutes played. Allen is second in the school ranks with 43 wins, 260 saves, and career 0.83 GAA. In 2007 he recorded a 0.79 GAA and 75 saves, with 7 shutouts.

3. Brian Edwards, Wake Forest -- Edwards leaves college with an exceptional 43 shutouts and a national title, admittedly behind a sensational defense. At 6-foot-3 and 190-pounds, the fifth-year senior started for four years for the Demon Deacons. Named first-team All-ACC this year with 13 shutouts and a 0.50 GAA, Edwards will need to improve his shot stopping and lateral quickness to become a great pro.

4. Dominic Cervi, Tulsa -- A big and powerful shot stopper (6-foot-6, 204-pounds), Cervi will have something to prove entering the MLS combine. He was named first-team Conference USA in 2007 with 81 saves, but doesn't have a stellar statistical career resumé despite being a four-year starter. He's going to need some coaching on technique and time to develop before being ready to compete in MLS. Cervi started 50 of 56 games in his career with 207 saves, a 1.35 GAA and 10 shutouts.

5. Conrad Taylor, Penn State -- This exceptionally athletic keeper is hampered as a pro prospect by his 5-foot-8, 167-pound frame. Taylor's string of first-team Big Ten nods was brought to an end by Penn State's subpar 2007 season. With 83 consecutive starts in four seasons, he leaves Penn State with 23 shutouts, good for third in school history, and a 1.08 goals GAA. Can he overcome the prejudice against size and build a pro career?

6. Andrew Kartunen, Stanford -- A player who was on last year's list and I am glad to see invited to the upcoming MLS combine. Kartunen was building a strong career at Stanford until his 2006 senior year was lost due to a preseason shoulder injury. With a medical redshirt for 2006, Kartunen returned in 2007 with high expectations only to lose half the year with a concussion. The 6-foot-1 netminder was named Pac-10 honorable mention in 2007 despite playing in only eight games -- his stellar 0.56 GAA was impressive in limited play. Kartunen was a member of the U.S. U-20 team that went to the 2005 Worlds.

7. Casey Latchem, Ohio State -- After getting limited playing time in his first two years, Latchem blossomed in his final two seasons, leading the Buckeyes to the national title game this season. In his senior campaign, he had 15 shutouts (a single season school record), 92 saves, and a 0.69 GAA. A great shot stopper and strong presence in the box, but he's might be too short at 6-feet. He'll also need to improve his lateral quickness.

8. Chris Cahill, Notre Dame -- Cahill is a fifth-year senior but he has only three years as a starter. A good pro style body at 6-foot-6 and 190-pounds, his best attribute is his consistency. Three straight seasons in the Big East with a GAA under 1.00 earned him a third-team Big East nod in 2006 and second-team in 2007. Cahill added eight shutouts in 2007 to bring his three year total to 28.

9. Steve Sandbo, SMU -- Someone in the U.S. Soccer system really likes this kid; he was a U.S. U-17 and U-20 international. Sandbo was heralded recruit for the Ponies yet he never excelled at SMU, twice losing his job via injury to untouted Matt Wideman. Sandbo was in essence a starter for only one season earning a 2007 third-team Conference USA nod with a not-too-stunning 52 saves and 1.08 GAA. Sandbo (6-foot-3, 203-pounds) has always had all the tools to be a stud, but he has never really put it together. Will MLS teams see the potential or the production?

10. Mike Graczyk, New Mexico -- The three-year starter leaves New Mexico as the career leader with 30 shutouts and a stunning career 0.67 GAA. Graczky's impressive tenure in New Mexico was capped by six shutouts and a 0.74 GAA this year to lead the MPSF conference in both categories for the third straight season. The main knock against the Graczky is the lack of strong competition the Lobos faced in the MPSF.

Others to keep an eye on

Charles Alamo, UC Riverside

Billy Chiles, Towson

Matt Glaeser, Hartford

Mike Haynes, Bradley

Vito Higgins, Gonzaga

Joey Kuterbach, Bucknell

Lance Parker, Missouri State

Daniel Schenkel, Monmouth

Eric Sciocchetti, Richmond

Roger Scully, Vermont

Buzz Carrick is the publisher of 3rd Degree, the FC Dallas News Source. He also works in the freelance sports television business and can be reached by email at buzz@3rddegree.net.