As the 2012 MLS SuperDraft draws closer, a select number of players are being offered Generation Adidas (GA) contracts to sign with the league. To date, six players have accepted the lucrative offers and will enter the January 12th draft as favorites to be chosen early in the process. Wednesday morning, an additional handful of players were offered GA deals, including 15 year old attacking midfielder Herber Mejia "Junior" Flores of Virginia.
According to a report in the Washington Post, Flores’ father revealed that the San Jose Earthquakes were among four MLS teams that had expressed a strong interest in the teenage midfielder. One of the factors that go into the league’s decision on whether to sign underclassmen to GA contracts is how much interest its member clubs have in that player and what competition outside of MLS exists for his signature. Born in Los Angeles to Salvadoran parents, Flores has been rumored to be considering a number of options for his first professional contract.
Junior Flores recently competed for the U.S. Men’s National Team Under-17 squad in the 2011 Nike International Friendlies, and he helped lead his team to a first place finish in the tournament. Along the way, the U17s played to a 2-2 against France, beat Turkey 2-1, and secured the title with a 3-1 win over Brazil. Flores was named "Man of the Match" after the victory against the Brazilians, where he controlled the midfield for the U.S. and assisted on the third goal of the match. San Jose Earthquakes Academy standout Angel Heredia was also a part of the U17 squad for the tournament.
If Flores signs with MLS, the Earthquakes, with the sixth overall selection in next Thursday’s SuperDraft, would have the highest pick available among the four teams that expressed interest in the youth international — Seattle Sounders, FC Dallas, and the Chicago Fire were the others. The Earthquakes also hold two selections in the second round of the draft, but it is unlikely that Flores, if signed to GA contract, would drop that far down the board.
Taking a 15-year old with such a high pick, despite the possible upside he possesses, would do little to help the Earthquakes in the near future. However, since his GA contract would not count against the MLS salary cap, Flores could be given time to grow and adjust to the league without taking away the financial flexibility to sign other players.
The Earthquakes currently have two GA players on their senior roster, third year defender Ike Opara and second year goalkeeper David Bingham. Both players are expected to have more of an impact with the first team in the coming season, especially Opara, and could have their contracts revert counting against the cap. Bringing in a player with the potential of Flores, without having to worry about the financial concerns, could be a wise move.