Tag Archives: MLS SuperDraft

All[ianz] is bright

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

I know I teased a deep dive into a formational rabbit hole in this first piece of 2019, but then Minnesota United FC had a busy SuperDraft first round and I changed my plans. This will instead be a shallow dive into a very deep pool of my thoughts on Minnesota’s 2019 newcomers.

Following a disappointing sophomore season in which the Loons’ overall performance could not quite outshine their horrendous freshman year (they picked up one more W in 2018 than in ‘17, but shipped one more goal, finishing with 71 against, compared to 70 in ‘17), everyone expected – or, rather, hoped – to see Minnesota’s front office make immediate strides toward shoring up their defense and pulling together the stray threads in the midfield. Instead, they jettisoned many of 2018’s signings and then… Darkness. Silence.

Well, not exactly dark. Nor silent.

Oh! And this:

Jan Gregus was announced as a DP No 6. Unfortunately, it’s pronounced like Grey Goosh, not Grey Goose. And, he’s not a No 6. While Gregus was occasionally shifted into the center-back role with his last side, FC Copenhagen, and the Slovakian international team, he usually played more of a center mid or right-wing role.

But that’s okay. Minnesota found themselves a real, true, bonafide, known-entity Number 6. (Yes, that’s a transition, but don’t worry; wings will feature heavily in the true deep dive.)

In a rare transfer-rumor-comes-true moment, Minnesota brought aboard a Seattle Sounders original: captain and center back Osvaldo “Ozzie” Alonso. This is one of few signings in United’s MLS era that makes perfect, immediate sense.

The Honey Badger not only fills a position of need but also brings 10 years of MLS experience to a side still searching for an identity. That resume and his history of playing (thriving even) through pain are nearly enough to overlook the fact that he is not the youthful puzzle piece that the Loons sorely need for league longevity, but his leadership may be more important.

On Friday, January 11, the club made three picks who all look set to join the fight for a place with the club, whether that role is off the bench in 2019 or on loan to train for the future. The two brightest prospects come with chemistry. Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair and defender Chase Gasper, picked seventh and fifteenth respectively, played together for the Maryland Terrapins, the 2018 NCAA Champions.

St. Clair adds depth between the sticks, where Shuttleworth was the only rostered player going into the draft. Ideally, he’d be the second backup by opening night, but if the reports about his distribution style are true, St. Clair will be an intriguing addition to the lineup. And do you see how excited his roommate, Gasper, is in this interview?

That’s how excited I am to see the young fullback training next to Ozzie. This is a player who will buy into a system and develop quickly. We can only hope the aforementioned system is an effective one. There is lethal potential to a backfield with options like Alonso, Kallman, Calvo, Boxall, Gregus and Gasper.

United also picked up Oregon State midfielder, Hassani Dotson, with the fifteenth pick. Dotson is in the Potential Pool: If United hangs onto him into the regular season, he’s bound to be on loan to Forward Madison SC to hone his craft before being plugged into the Loons’ midfield.

How that midfield comes together in the preseason will be the biggest indicator of the season to come. Yes, the defense needs work, the forwards need to score; but defense starts up top. A composed midfield would make the Loons competitive. Those inside puzzle pieces are still floating aimlessly across the field.

So stock up on whiskey (or Grey Goose) and stay tuned for a deep dive into a jigsaw puzzle.

Featured image: @MNUFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

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MNUFC SuperDraft Report

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

This team is full of surprises. I was expecting to get maybe a paragraph or two out of the draft day, but Minnesota United FC was making up for lost time. Here is my update:

The north is slightly less restless. In fact, following the early-and-often negotiation tactics of coach Adrian Heath, Sporting Director Manny Lagos and Director of Player Personnel Amos Magee, was like taking a crash course in Advanced Player Acquisition. My head is still spinning, but here’s where we stand.

United first traded their 5th pick to Chicago Fire for $75,000 GAM, $100,000 TAM, the 15th pick and a player to be named later in the day. That lucky Fire player (I hope he feels that way) was goalkeeper Matt Lampson. With 24 starts in 2017, Lampson adds depth and experience to the position behind current starter Bobby Shuttleworth.

The club then acquired the 7th pick from Montreal Impact, in exchange for $150,000 in TAM, and selected forward Mason Toye. The Generation Adidas player out of Indiana University was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2017. United already has two solid strikers in Christian Ramirez and Abu Danladi (the club’s first ever draft pick), but Toye can play backup to Danladi when Ramirez is on international duty and affords the flexibility to play a two-striker formation.

With the 15th pick, United selected defender Wyatt Omsberg out of Dartmouth. His 6’4″ frame will be helpful in set pieces, an aspect of the game in which United has long been lacking. Joe Greenspan was expected to play that role in 2017, but missed much of the season due to injury and was released.

Three players in one round were not enough for MNUFC. Heath and company took the final pick of the first round from Toronto FC in exchange for a second round pick and $50,000 in TAM. With that pick, they selected another defender, Carter Manley from Duke, who trained with the Loons this offseason. Manley adds more depth and options to what we expect to be a new-look back line.

But wait, there’s more! In the second round, with the 41st overall pick, United selected Xavier Gomez of the University of Nebraska – Omaha. Gomez adds depth to a midfield that is currently a little wing-heavy.

In all the post-draft interviews with United staff, one word, spoken repeatedly, stands out: Potential. So, with five new Loons reporting to training on Monday, let’s just say the north is rising.

Featured image courtesy: @MNUFC

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NYCFC SuperDraft primer

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

This Friday the MLS SuperDraft commences in Philadelphia.  Although the SuperDraft’s importance has likely decreased in comparison to youth academies and foreign player signings, especially at New York City FC, it still is an important piece of the MLS team composition puzzle.

The SuperDraft began in 2000 and was a major avenue for teams to acquire talent.  Utilizing a draft is, of course, unique among soccer leagues worldwide but very common in American sports. In fact, the MLS’s format is very similar to the NFL’s draft.  Players are eligible to be drafted if they played for an NCAA team and are not part of an academy system. 

The SuperDraft follows a player Combine which is an event to give these players the opportunity to show off their skills and coachability.  This year the Combine was held in Orlando at Orlando City SC’s stomping grounds.

The event is comprised of four rounds with each team getting one pick per round.  So, this year, each round will contain 23 picks for a total of 92 players being selected.  The order in which a team picks is based on how they finished the prior season, with the “less successful” teams being able to pick players earlier each round than teams who went into the postseason, with expansion teams picking first. 

In 2018, expansion team Los Angeles FC will get #1 draft pick each round.  Due to NYCFC’s 2017 Conference Semi-final finish, we have the 19th pick in each round.  We have an additional draft pick in the 3rd round that we acquired by trading RJ Allen to Orlando.  As it stands now, we pick 19th (first round), 42nd (2nd round), both 52nd and 65th (third round) and 88th (fourth round). 

While the draft is still potentially a source of talent for MLS teams in general, arguably NYCFC’s most productive SuperDraft was in 2016 when we never actually drafted a player.  Jack Harrison was selected as the #1 pick by Chicago Fire but minutes later, they traded him to NYCFC for their #4 pick and General Allocation Money.  In the second round, we traded our pick to Montreal Impact for Mr. Mustache himself, Jeb Brovsky.  Third round, we traded our pick to FC Dallas for Andrew Jacobson and finally in the fourth round we acquired Kwame Watson-Sirboe in a trade to Real Salt Lake

While the lasting impact of the final three players (mustaches withstanding) was minimal, “Jack Flash” has been an integral part of the team from the second he overcame his fractured pelvis, an injury that was announced right after the 2016 draft.

With the growth of the US academy system, who knows how long the SuperDraft will continue to exist.  For international soccer fans, it seems like an anomaly, yet it does maintain an element of tradition to tie it in with other US sports and may be hard to relinquish. Plus, until the preseason games kickoff next month, the draft provides us with some soccer news and a few new names to learn. 

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Spring on the Horizon and SuperDraft

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

When it’s mind-numbing and skull-crushingly cold, I always look to the prospect of spring to give me hope.  I can easily conjure up the smell of thawing soil and the sight of our New York City FC players slipping on the overwatered turf in just about every second half of every home match at the Stadium, especially on the grass that covers the Yankee stadium infield.

These thoughts of greenery keep me going through the white, grey and black of January and February.  As NYCFC fans we have roughly two months until our season opener in Kansas City on March 4th.  

Things are far from frozen with our club, especially with our new DP Jesus Medina arriving in New York last week.  The young Paraguayan with the wicked left foot checked out his new home and future NYCFC training facilities, although they were covered in snow. I am sure he had to use some of the imagination and creativity we hope to see on the pitch.  It will be interesting to see how his offensive strengths, he scored 17 goals in 74 appearances for Club Libertad, will gel with Villa, Harrison, Wallace, and Moralez.   

We also recently acquired Anton Tinnerholm and Saad Abdul-Salam to firm up our defensive line.  We still seem to be lacking a definitive Center Back outside of Chanot but it seems Coach Vieira will have plenty of options and combinations to try albeit with a lot of new faces.  Rumors of the addition of Yaya Touré have been quashed, at least for now, with the addition of Medina.  Many are still hoping that some creativity can bring Yaya here as a non-DP – I guess we will have to wait and see. Personally, I am not sure how that would work. 

While there isn’t any actual soccer until NYCFC’s first preseason friendly in Mexico on February 13th versus Club Atlético de San Luis, closer on the horizon is the MLS SuperDraft, which starts on Friday 1/19.  Remember 2016, when Jack Harrison was the #1 pick in the SuperDraft? I am happy to announce that I will be reporting to you from Philly at this year’s SuperDraft on 1/19. Follow me on instagram @keirams

Excitement seems to be building for the new secondary kit.  The players were traveling to Abu Dhabi this week for an “exciting Etihad NYCFC video project”. Perhaps this project is tied to the release and marketing of the new kit.  I loved the inaugural all black secondary kit, let’s say I didn’t hate the more recent “swirly jersey” – but I am still looking forward to its replacement.   

So until next time when we talk even more about SuperDraft,- adiós! 

Peace, love, soccer.

Extra time:

Without the use of Google, who can tell me the name of the team who drafted Jack Harrison in 2016?  Be the first one to tweet me the correct answer and I will send you an NYCFC prize/tchotchke.  (This is the honor system, I trust you!)

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @keiramunsmith

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