It’s a brand new era for the MLS SuperDraft, which has been decentralized for the first time ever starting today. Teams will draft from their own home base, with streaming video and embedded reporters standing by, as the league has apparently conceded that the draft’s reduced importance to roster building necessitated some kind of change. That said, college soccer still has some quality prospects to offer, particularly for teams that can develop their picks at USL affiliate clubs.
D.C. United enters the day with just one pick in the two rounds that will be completed today, and it’s a late one: 42nd overall, the 16th pick of the 2nd round. However, United has shown a willingness to trade up for talent in the past, and with so many powerhouse programs within the DMV region — Virginia (2014), Maryland (2018), and Georgetown (2019) have won 3 of the last 6 national titles — there’s always a chance they make a move higher up into this year’s draft.
Start time: 12:30pm Eastern
Available TV: This one’s not on TV. You’re gonna have to log on.
Available streaming: ESPN will have streams of the first round on Youtube, Facebook, the ESPN Twitter feed, and on the ESPN app. MLS will also host a stream here. MLS has offered conflicting details about whether the stream will include both rounds or cut off after the first round ends (this says they’ll show both rounds on the stream, while the draft tracker seems to point to a stream that will end after the first round), so be prepared to cycle through these various options in case some of them cut out while others keep going into the second round.
Yes, this is more than a little silly, but you’re MLS fans and this is the 25th year of things being a little silly. You can get through this.
What are the chances United lands a future contributor?: Friend, I won’t lie to you: the chances are low. Last year’s 42nd overall pick, Jacob Hauser-Ramsey, was cut in preseason by the Colorado Rapids before signing on with Memphis 901 FC in the USL Championship. United’s last pick in this range, Jo-Vetle Rimstad (43rd overall pick in 2017) didn’t make it past the first round of preseason cuts.
Still, 12 of last year’s 24 2nd round picks ended up landing MLS contracts, and half of that group ended up spending a large chunk of the year making the 18 for their MLS club. Kamal Miller (Orlando), Rece Buckmaster (NY Red Bulls), and and Peter-Lee Vassell (LAFC) all played real minutes, and Hassani Dotson (Minnesota) ended up breaking through as a starter and is now in the broader USMNT pool. It’s a long shot in real terms, but we’re not talking about buying a Powerball ticket here.
So sure, the chances are low, but it’s not unthinkable that United brings in a player that makes an impression in preseason, battles away during the spring (possibly with some Loudoun United appearances), and gets into the regular rotation before too long. And really, even if United takes a player who “merely” becomes a solid regular for Loudoun with potential to grow further in 2021, that’s still a good draft day. The Dotson-level picks are few and far between, but with Loudoun, there’s a clear avenue for promising picks to develop into D.C. United contributors in a year or two.
Update 12:22pm: Just before the draft, United announced that they had made a deal with the Philadelphia Union to move up into the first round. The two sides will swap places in the allocation order (United moves down to 21st, Philly up to 17th), and United gets the no. 21 overall pick.
How can I get prepared?: Start with Top Drawer Soccer’s latest Mock Draft and their Big Board. The difference? The Big Board is more of a pure ranking of player quality, while the Mock Draft takes into account team needs, tendencies, and their preferences. Historically, Soccer By Ives has had a good feel for what team decison-makers are thinking going into the draft.
Here’s the full list of draft-eligible players.
What are you drinking?: Early afternoon on a Thursday? Probably a post-lunch cup of black coffee, followed by extremely run-of-the-mill water.
This is the place for all your pre-draft, in-draft, and post-draft discussion.