University of Connecticut goalkeeper Andre Blake is one of four to ink Generation adidas contracts with MLS on Thursday. (Cal Sport Media/AP)
The 2013 MLS season ended not even a month ago, but the seeds are already being planted for the 2014 campaign, with the MLS SuperDraft two weeks away.
The first members of the draft class signed on Thursday, with MLS announcing the signings of Connecticut goalkeeper Andre Blake, Maryland forward Schillo Tshuma, Creighton defender Eric Miller and Louisville midfielder Marlon Hairston to Generation adidas contracts, which are awarded to select underclassmen who leave college early to join the league.
MLS also signed a pair of highly touted seniors, with Maryland forward Patrick Mullins and Georgetown forward Steve Neumann set to continue their careers domestically.
Mullins won the MAC Hermann Trophy award -- college soccer's top individual honor -- as a junior and is a finalist to win it again following his senior campaign. He'll find out Jan. 10 whether he takes home the award for the second year running. Mullins led college soccer with 19 goals this past season. Neumann, meanwhile, scored 10 goals for the second straight year with the Hoyas.
The Generation adidas class figures to grow, and the senior pool will become a lot more clear after the MLS Combine, which will take place in Florida beginning next Friday. GA players are given grants to continue their college education, and their salaries don't count against teams' salary caps while they are still counted in the program, which makes them desirable draft targets (in addition to their status as top prospects).
The 2014 SuperDraft is slated for Jan. 16 in Philadelphia.