Atlanta United and Minnesota United will officially be joining the MLS in 2017. As part of the expansion process, the two franchises will have the opportunity to obtain players to add to their rosters via multiple avenues or “mechanisms” including the expansion draft on December 13th, the MLS SuperDraft, and four other categories.
There will be plenty of talent across the list of mechanisms, but who gets to pick first?
On October 16th at the MLS Headquarters in New York City, a coin flip will determine who gets to pick first in a specific mechanism of the club’s choosing. The loser of the coin toss will receive the second pick in that particular selection process. Subsequently, the club that loses the original coin toss will then elect to have the first pick in one of the five remaining categories. The clubs will alternate first and second until the picking order for all six mechanisms are determined.
Todd Durbin, Executive Vice President of Competition & Player Relations, will flip the coin. You can tune in to watch the coin toss this Sunday October 16th on MLS Facebook, MLS YouTube, ESPN3, or TSNGO at 2pmEST.
For exclusive behind-the-scenes action at the coin toss, follow ATLUTD on Snapchat.
Ahead of Sunday’s coin toss, Atlanta United sat down with Director of Soccer Operations, Paul McDonough, to acquire a little more insight on the MLS expansion process.
How big of a moment is this for the franchise? What advantage does winning the coin toss give Atlanta United?
It gives us priority in multiple mechanisms to build our roster, so it’s very important. It’s going to be some of the key ways we add talent without having to pay for it. The expansion draft, SuperDraft, allocation order, and the other mechanisms are all crucial as you construct a team from the ground up.
With a lot of unknowns such as which players are going to be available in the expansion draft and the SuperDraft, how do you prepare?
There are a couple of players rumored to come back in the allocation, there’s a pool of kids that could be the top two draft picks, and we’re also trying to look at who could be left unprotected in the expansion draft. A lot of it is guessing right now, but we are estimating the best we can.
Through this expansion process, has there been a history of picking experienced players, discovering young talent or maybe taking a chance on some players that haven’t had the opportunity to play elsewhere?
If I look back at NYCFC and Orlando City’s expansion process, the SuperDraft yielded Cyle Larin to Orlando and Khiry Shelton to NYCFC, the allocation yielded Mix Diskerud and Brek Shea, and in the expansion draft there were also some solid additions to each team. As far as impactfulness, I think Cyle Larin has been great and Khiry has contributed a lot. If you do your homework, you can get something good out of each mechanism.
Why was the expansion draft modified this year to where teams are only able to obtain five players now instead of 10?
The expansion process hasn’t changed much since it started. There have been a lot of discussions through the technical committees and the ability of players to contribute. Of the expansion player acquisitions in the past, the verdict was that only about five deep made significant contributions. So the discussion came up, would we rather have status quo which is 10 picks OR go five picks and have some extra allocation money OR do away with it all together. Getting rid of it all together just didn’t have any traction and a good compromise for the existing teams, expansion teams and future expansion teams was that five seemed the most reasonable. It disrupts less teams in the league and expansion clubs get more allocation money to offset those five players they don’t get to pick. There are no restrictions on the allocation money, so that can be used on any players we decide to bring into the team.