It wouldn't be a draft without folks declaring what they'd do if they got to run the team for the day, and when it comes to the MLS SuperDraft and D.C. United, we're no different. We want access to the levers of power! Even though we're only privy to a sliver of the information involved, and probably don't have the strength of character to survive the traditional trade bonanza at the hotel bar the night before without getting tossed in jail. None of that matters. We want in!
Thankfully, United ownership has not contacted us about taking over the Black-and-Red's draft table. That won't stop us from coming up with our own draft day strategies, though. Here's how a big chunk of B&RU's staff would handle today's event if given the shot (Jason, Erick...you know where to find us):
One thing I'd like for us to continue to do is get younger and faster. At 12, we're probably going after the best player available at that point, but I'd trend towards a winger we can use to stretch defenses. With Acosta in the middle and Ortiz and Mullins up front, we have a young attack core, and if we can get some speed, it will make them even more of a force. With picks 34 and 43, I'd like to see them bring in some depth on defense at left or right back.
I think it would take a lot to get D.C. into the top 4. The picks are fairly locked in and it's doubtful they'd move up to #2 (Atlanta is apparently entertaining offers) without some sort of over-payment. I do think you could flip with Atlanta's other pick in the first round at #8 (giving them 50kish in GAM for the right to do so) to get a central defender to mold into a starter next to Steve Birnbaum and with Bobby Boswell in his ear. There, they could pick Lalas Abubakar from Dayton or possibly Francis de Vries from St. Francis University, and at least as far as the latter goes, picking a New Zealand defender from College in the draft has worked for them before.
The only player that appears to be a lock to go in the top 5 that I’d like to see United trade up in pursuit of is Syracuse center back Miles Robinson. I’m not convinced that the other players being mentioned - the likes of Jeremy Ebobisse, Abu Danladi, and Brandon Aubrey - will be worth the price it will require to move up, especially in a market flooded by the extra TAM and GAM expansion teams bring to the table.
As such, I think I’d advocate for United to trade down in the first round and net some TAM to drop 3-4 spots back. Teams like KC and Colorado strike me as likely enthusiastic about the #12 pick, and I think United could still get a good player (someone like Providence’s Julian Gressel, Vermont’s Brian Wright, or New Mexico’s Niko Hansen) in the process.
As for the 2nd rounders: Take the best player available regardless of position. You're essentially just getting the MLS dibs to have them as preseason trialists at that stage anyway. United has done better than most at finding players who make a real challenge for a spot, so I expect they'll have some good names ready at #34 and #43.
Adam M Taylor
I'm going to take this space to say that I want Dave Kasper and Ben Olsen to... do whatever the hell they want with D.C. United's draft picks. They've earned our trust with a recent record that includes:
- Trading Garberbucks to draft Julian Buescher and then trading their natural selection to offset that Monopoly money
- Leveraging the first overall pick into Steve Birnbaum and a boatload of allocation money (wisely not selecting his Cal teammate Christian Dean)
- The likes of Taylor Kemp, Chris Korb, Perry Kitchen, and Nick DeLeon (Granted some of those predate this braintrust's tenure, but the point stands: United are good at drafting.)
That said, I expect that the best talent available in the #12 spot will probably be in a position where United doesn't really need the help, namely central midfield, so my instinct would be to trade up or out of the spot, either to get a player in a position of need or to bank that sweet, sweet pretend cash.
Assuming that Alhaji Kamara is viewed as the primary backup to Patrick Mullins, and also assuming that there are no major departures before the draft, I see fullback depth and holding midfield depth as the major places in which the team should be looking to make upgrades. Even though those positions stick out, the team isn't so deep at any position that they can't afford to get a little bit better, so I think they should take their best available player in any field position with the 12th overall pick. I could be talked into Shamit Shome at if he's there, to potentially blossom into a starting holding midfielder since he's only 19, but I wouldn't pass up a player that was better just to fill the position. After that, they should try to find that fullback and central midfield help with the remaining picks.
I don't think D.C. United needs to move up that high to find someone useful. If they can get into the 6-8 range, they may be able to take a player like Chris Odoi-Atsem from the University of Maryland, which would help their fullback depth and give them an heir apparent to Sean Franklin in a year or two. The other option is to trade down and pick up a couple of fringe roster players who can battle to be the second or third choice at a number of positions, which could result in depth across the back line for United. They wouldn't pick up much for the pick itself, but having access to a slightly higher quality of trialist could be useful as well. In fact, it is probably the more D.C United thing to do, especially until they get their own USL team.
That’s how we see it. What about you? Lay out your draft day plan in the comments!