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MLS Mock Draft: Rapids select Zach Bolden with No. 35 pick

No, the Summit League is not very good, but the Denver midfielder was the best it had to offer.

Photo by Mike DeZarn

Let's get one thing straight before we continue here: the Summit League is not very good. When Denver moved to the Summit League, they became the immediate favorites to win it, because the other names in the conference include such powerhouses as IUPUI, Oral Roberts and Western Illinois.

That out of the way, let's talk about Zach Bolden, who was probably the best player in the Summit League this season. From the midfield, he scored 10 goals and added nine assists in 2013, finishing off a very good career with the Pioneers. Those numbers came in only 19 games as well, giving him a lovely-looking point-per-game scoring clip for his senior season. He is great at both cutting in and drifting out, and has both a nose for goal and a very strong and accurate shot. He spent the year absolutely shredding every defense he faced.

But remember, it was the Summit League. Had he done everything he did there in the Big East, he'd be going No. 1 overall this year. Instead, he's your garden variety super-player from a lower conference who will have question marks about his ability to take it to a higher level.

He's a local boy as well, having spent time with the Rapids U-18 academy and Denver East High School, where he won the State Championship in 2008. I've got Bolden picked out as a potential surprise star candidate from the lower rounds, and the Rapids make all the sense in the world for a destination.

What Colorado will be looking for in the draft: By the time it's hit the second round of the draft, it will probably be anything goes for the Rapids, but another attacking midfielder or a center back are probably the two best bets if they're going to draft for need.

Who the experts say Colorado will pick: Alex Martinez has gotten a shout at this spot, and indeed he would be a similar choice to Bolden.

Why I'm invariably wrong: Bolden has the potential to drop even farther than the second round, so I might be throwing the dice a bit high on him here. Actual MLS scouts might not see him quite as favorably as I do, either.

Why I'm smarter than the pundits: Come on, he's a local kid! (He also avoids the 'rival brothers' mentality that they'd have if they picked Alex Martinez, since his brother Enzo was picked by Real Salt Lake in 2012.)

Full Mock Draft results (click on player names to see the profiles)

First Round

Team Blog Pick
1. D.C. United Black and Red United Patrick Mullins
2. Philadelphia Union Brotherly Game Steve Neumann
3. Vancouver Whitecaps 86 Forever Andre Blake
4. Columbus Crew Massive Report Steve Birnbaum
5. FC Dallas Big D Soccer Christian Dean
6. Union Brotherly Game Marlon Hairston
7. Whitecaps 86 Forever Damion Lowe
8. Chicago Fire Hot Time In Old Town Grant Van De Casteele
9. San Jose Earthquakes Quake, Rattle and Goal Eric Miller
10. Montreal Impact Mount Royal Soccer A.J Corrado
11. Colorado Rapids Burgundy Wave Schillo Tshuma
12. New England Revolution The Bent Musket JJ Koval
13. Seattle Sounders Sounder at Heart Aodhan Quinn
14. LA Galaxy LAG Confidential Fifi Baiden
15. Toronto FC Waking the Red AJ Cochran
16. Houston Dynamo Dynamo Theory Mamadou Diouf
17. Portland Timbers Stumptown Footy Reinaldo Brenes
18. Real Salt Lake RSL Soapbox Ben Sweat
19. Revolution The Bent Musket Marco Franco

Second Round

Team Blog Pick
20. Chivas USA The Goat Parade Enrique Cardenas
21. Sounders Sounder at Heart Taylor Peay
22. New York Red Bulls Once a Metro Pete Caringi
23. Crew Massive Report Pedro Ribeiro
24. Toronto FC Waking the Red Joey Dillon
25. Union Brotherly Game Jared Watts
26. Timbers Stumptown Footy Kevin Cope
27. Union Brotherly Game Kyle Venter
28. Earthquakes Quake, Rattle and Goal Mackenzie Pridham
29. Impact Mout Royal Soccer Jimmy Ockford
30. Whitecaps 86 Forever Nikita Kotlov
31. Revolution The Bent Musket Victor Chavez
32. Dynamo Dynamo Theory Kristopher Tyrpak
33. Rapids Burgundy Wave Rafael Diaz
34. Red bulls Once a Metro Alex Martinez
35. Rapids Burgundy Wave Zach Bolden
36. Timbers Stumptown Footy Mark Sherrod
37. Impact Mout Royal Soccer Michael Calderon
38. Sporting Kansas City The Daily Wiz

Romena Bowie