We’re less than two months away from the start of the 2018 MLS season and there is plenty of roster construction still to be done. This month, MLS will host its 19th annual SuperDraft which will begin on Friday, Jan. 19 in Philadelphia, PA at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in conjunction with the United Soccer Coaches convention.
In contrast to the league’s other various player acquisition methods and drafts, the SuperDraft very closely resembles that of any other American professional sports draft. The player pool primarily consists of players who have just recently finished their NCAA career or players who have decided to forego their college eligibility to become professionals. Clubs select players over the course of four rounds with the selection order determined by the previous season’s performance/finish, with the exception of expansion clubs receiving the top picks – this year LAFC will make the first selection. The first two rounds will be held in Philadelphia on Jan. 19, while the third and fourth rounds will be held via conference call on Jan. 21.
All 23 teams with participate in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft and all picks are transferable, hence why there are some rounds where a club holds multiple picks and others where they may have none (Teams can trade picks for players, allocation money, etc.).
Prior to the SuperDraft, a select number of elite prospects are invited to participate in the MLS Combine which offers an opportunity for players to showcase their skill and raise their draft stock while allowing coaches and technical staff a chance to evaluate the field. This year’s combine will take place in Orlando, FL at Orlando City Stadium between Jan. 11 and Jan. 17.
The initial invite list announced on Dec. 21 included 60 players collectively chosen by a committee of MLS coaches and NCAA Division I coaches from every conference. See the full list here. Further invitees including Generation adidas signings, non-collegiate players, and additional college seniors will be announced in the coming weeks. All players are divided into four separate teams to compete in matches over the course of the combine.
You can watch all the combine matches as well as the 2018 MLS SuperDraft LIVE on MLSsoccer.com.
Just like any other sport, being drafted does not guarantee a contract, let alone receiving playing time for the first team. However, recent MLS SuperDraft history has demonstrated that the top prospects can make a significant impact if provided the opportunity including last year’s MLS Rookie of the Year, Julian Gressel selected 8th overall by Atlanta United.
Notable recent MLS SuperDraft selections:
- (2014) Andre Blake, GK – Philadelphia Union
- (2014) Steve Birnbaum, D – D.C. United
- (2015) Cyle Larin, FWD – Orlando City SC
- (2015) Khiry Shelton, FWD – New York City FC
- (2016) Jack Harrison, FWD – New York City FC
- (2016) Keegan Rosenberry, D – Philadelphia Union
- (2017) Abu Danladi, FWD – Minnesota United
- (2017) Julian Gressel, MID – Atlanta United FC
Atlanta United’s first SuperDraft in 2017:
- 2nd overall – Miles Robinson, D – Syracuse University
- 8th overall – Julian Gressel, MID – Providence College
- No Selections
- 46th overall – Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, MID – Harvard University
- 68th overall – Alex Kapp, GK – Creighton University
Atlanta United has retained the majority of their 2017 draft class, so it will be interesting to see who they decide to select this year in Philadelphia. And with ATL UTD launching a USL side in 2018, the club will have more opportunity and flexibility for their draft selections to develop. So make sure to tune in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 19 LIVE on MLSsoccer.com and follow ATLUTD on social media for all your Atlanta United updates.