WIth the upcoming MLS Superdraft on January 13th, it's time to start looking at a couple of the possible prospects that the Colorado Rapids might select with their 18th overall pick in the first round. I've gone around and asked a few people with the knowledge of their schools and players about the prospects I think are prime guys for the Rapids selection. Today is Akron's Anthony Ampapitakwong, with some insight from Zips fan Dan Kadar, the owner of the excellent NFL draft site Mocking The Draft.
Of all the prospects that I'm covering in this series, Akron's Anthony Ampapitakwong is probably the least likely out of all of them to make it down to the 18th overall spot. In fact, a good combine out of him will almost make it certain that he doesn't. But on the off chance that he does, I would be very willing to throw out my "Don't draft a central guy" idea on the draft simply because Anthony could quite possibly be a replacement in waiting to Pablo Mastroeni.
Plus, as I said before I'd like that pick just because it's really fun to say 'Ampapitakwong'.
Here's what Dan Kadar had to say about Anthony;
Ampai has been one of the cornerstones of Akron soccer the past four seasons. He was the team's leader as a senior and coach Caleb Porter's first top-tier recruit.
A starter since his freshman year, Ampaipitakwong excels with the ball on his feet. He's an attacking/holding midfielder and puts great touch and location on his passes.
Because he's unselfish and works the ball around so well, Ampaipitakwong should be able to start and make an impact immediately in the MLS. He may not have the athletic upside of some other players, but he's as sound of one as you'll find. He has very good striking from set pieces.
Porter credited Ampaipitakwong with being the player that really took the Akron program to the next level. It wasn't Teal Bunbury, Blair Gavin, Darlington Nagbe, Kofi Sarkodie or Zarek Valentin. It was Ampaipitakwong and he'll be very hard to replace.
Anthony's box to box abilities and fantastic passing ability make him one of the more sure-fire things in the draft, in my opinion. His skill isn't quite as sharpened compared with his Akron compatriots Nagbe, Kitchen et al. but he still has some fine qualities for a central midfielder. His ability to provide great service on free kicks is always something at a premium in MLS and combined with his ability to "put great touch and location on his passes" it makes him sound like a perfect fit for the Rapids system of midfield.
With Pablo Mastroeni getting old and most likely not having many more years like his career year this season, Ross LaBeaux is the obvious heir to his throne at central midfield. However, in a similar case to the NFL's "Will the Panthers draft Andrew Luck since they already have Jimmy Clausen" case, I think that Ampapitakwong will be too much to pass up despite creating a logjam at the position. Perhaps the two of them could be a future pair up on the level of Larentowicz and Mastroeni?
It's very doubtful that we even see Ampapitakwong get this far down the draft board, but stranger things have happened in sport before. If there's anyone I think worth trading up a few spots to get, it's this guy. Wishful thinking, but Ampapitakwong is my favorite player that the Rapids might even have a breath of a prayer of getting on the 13th.