It’s a long-standing tradition among SB Nation’s MLS blogs to hold a mock draft ahead of the SuperDraft every year, which means every winter we get to pretend to be in charge of D.C. United, if only for a few minutes. Every year, we’ve taken the same approach: try to mimic the choices Dave Kasper, Ben Olsen, and the rest of United’s technical staff would make, rather than simply doing what we want to do. There have been some hits, like predicting that United would take Nick DeLeon, and some wild misses. That’s part of the fun.
United’s approach, in our view, is as follows: take the best player available, with only very modest regard for positional depth. You can expect that they’ve done the legwork, and that they won’t be too afraid to take an international player if that’s the guy at the top of their list. They’ve also shown a tendency, when all things are even, to take the players they’ve seen in person. We can’t do everything they can do (for the sake of our sanity, there are no trades in the mock draft), but other than that, we do our best to follow these rough guidelines.
With that in mind, we used the 14th selection in our mock draft to select Wake Forest right back Logan Gdula. The 22-year-old Connecticut native has been a starter for three straight years with the Demon Deacons, who are securely among the very best programs in college soccer. Currently listed as the 18th best prospect in the draft pool by Top Drawer Soccer and the 13th best prospect by Soccer By Ives, Gdula’s reputation is being a combination of being pro-ready, but also likely to develop further in the near future.
Gdula finished his career in Winston-Salem with 77 appearances, and locked down a starting role early in his sophomore season that he never relinquished. In his last two seasons, Gdula posted 2 goals and 12 assists, the latter being a very promising total coming from right back. As a sophomore, he was part of the Wake side that went all the way to the College Cup final before falling to Stanford, and was teammates with (apparently) former United midfielder Ian Harkes.
At 5’11” and 160 pounds, Gdula fits within the physical profile of players MLS clubs tend tot take, and his combine physical test results (including coming in 3rd overall in an agility test that measures a player’s ability to run 5 yards, change direction, run 10 yards, change direction again, and run 5 more yards) make a solid case that he’s more than athletic enough to thrive in MLS.
There are also no real technical concerns with Gdula. Wake Forest coach Bobby Muuss wants his teams to keep the ball, and there’s no real room for the stereotypical uber-athletic college player whose technique and touch are found lacking at a higher level. Gdula has the ability on the ball to contribute right away even on a team that plays like United did down the stretch this year.
United would probably be fortune to have Gdula available if they hang on to the #14 pick. Mock drafts see him going between the 8th and 12th selections, even in a draft pool that seems more stocked at fullback than anywhere else. Being able to pick him would also dovetail nicely with a team need, as the Black-and-Red are pretty short at right back. DeLeon is now playing for Toronto FC, Oniel Fisher is out of contract and is months from being able to take the field after a major knee injury, and Chris Odoi-Atsem is battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
As a result, United’s options at right back to start the season are Paul Arriola, a natural winger whose quickness are very helpful further upfield, and Jalen Robinson (who has always looked more comfortable at center back). Adding Gdula would give D.C. a ready-to-go option early in the season, particularly if Olsen ends up dissatisfied with how the team adjusts to Arriola at right back.
There are other avenues we could see here. Trading forward, backward, or out of the draft would not be a major shock, and there are other options that would be appealing for United’s current needs. With multiple Designated Players, DCU could certainly use a Generation Adidas player, which probably means trading up to get one of the seven-member GA class. They also have one striker on the entire roster, and there are two or three viable prospects that could be available when United goes on the clock this Friday.
Ultimately, though, we think that a draft day that ends with Gdula playing for the Black-and-Red would have to count as a pretty solid success. It’s rare that you see a team in MLS these days manage to deal with both a positional need while also getting the best player left on the board, but if draft day goes as our mock draft did, United would have a shot at doing just that.