Remember all the tools to improve itself D.C. United had at its disposal entering this offseason - #1 SuperDraft pick, top spot in the allocation order and the waiver order, buttloads of allocation money? Well, they're about to get a chance to use one more of them: the best odds in the weighted lottery used to allocate US youth internationals signing with MLS from abroad. The league website is reporting that United States under-20 youth international Benji Joya is coming north in the very near future, having agreed to terms with MLS on the condition that teams express interest in entering the weighted lottery for his services.
Joya is a central midfielder who relishes a deeper position and has been a mainstay in Tab Ramos' US youth setup - Ramos has even called him the "glue" of the team - but he's been unable to win regular first team minutes at Santos Laguna. That's not a position where United is particularly thin, what with Jared Jeffrey, Lewis Neal and Davy Arnaud all capable backups for Perry Kitchen, but he represents an opportunity to get deeper and better at the spot, and it's well worth considering entry into the lottery. If the Black-and-Red do go in for the San Josa, Cal. native, they'll have the best odds of winning the lottery, no matter which other teams enter (though if enough teams enter, the odds would potentially favor the field over United).
The catch is that once a team wins one of these weighted lotteries, the same mechanism through which Conor Doyle came to RFK, they cannot enter another one until the calendar rolls over to 2015. So if Joya were to follow the likes of Jeffrey and Doyle to East Capitol Street, there wouldn't be another one following until next year. But then again, that might not be such an issue, because the available roster slots are getting to be pretty scarce as it is.
Joya, who would have been eligible for the SuperDraft - and who certainly would have been an early first-round pick - had he signed with the league before January 16, would essentially become the fourth high "draft pick" acquired by D.C. this winter, joining Steve Birnbaum (#2 pick in the SuperDraft), Jalen Robinson (homegrown signing rated higher than #3 SuperDraft pick Christian Dean by Travis Clark) and Christian Francois (acquired via waiver draft). For a team looking to get younger and better at the same time, that would be a ridiculous haul.
Here's a feature on Joya from US Soccer:
From that video, it's easy to like the kid, and he'd represent more of the young, American, presumably affordable talent that Ben Olsen and Dave Kasper have sought out over the last several months. So what do you think, readers - will United enter the lottery? Should they? Or should they hold out for another young American who might come back to the league at some point in 2014?
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