We’re days from preseason and just weeks away from the start of the 2019 MLS season, and there is plenty of roster construction still to be done. MLS will host its 20th annual SuperDraft in Chicago, Illinois starting at 12 p.m. ET on Friday, January 11th. It’s the first major league event for the 2019 season –– here’s what you need to know:
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 FC Cincinnati will make the first selection. The first two rounds will be held in Chicago on Jan. 11th, while the third and fourth rounds will be held via conference call the following day.
All 24 teams will 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 were invited to participate in the MLS Combine which offered 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. 3rd and Jan. 9th.
The initial invite list announced on Dec. 13th included 60 players collectively chosen by a committee of MLS coaches and NCAA Division I coaches from every conference. Further invitees included Generation adidas signings, non-collegiate players, and additional college seniors. Those head-to-head comparisons at the combine will help the Atlanta United technical staff get their list of targets ready for when they’re on the clock next week.
Who will Atlanta United pick?
There’s a little something for every team at the MLS SuperDraft. Atlanta United showed in its first appearance that there is value to be found, selecting Julian Gressel and Miles Robinson –– two first-team regulars –– in the 2017 edition. Forced to drop a little lower in the draft the following year, they stocked up on young depth. Players like Jon Gallagher, Ollie Shannon and Paul Christensen from last year’s SuperDraft were staples of the ATL UTD 2 rosters last season, and have the potential to break into the MLS roster in the future.
Thanks to Atlanta United’s MLS Cup-winning run, they will be forced to wait until the last pick this year, the 24th team to pick in each round. There’s always the chance the team moves up if they see a player who can make a difference, so make sure to stay tuned to the Atlanta United social media channels on draft day to see who will be wearing the red, black and gold this year.
Click here for more information on the top prospects in this year's MLS SuperDraft.
Atlanta United’s past SuperDraft picks:
2017: Miles Robinson, Julian Gressel, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, Alex Kapp
2018: Jon Gallagher, Gordon Wild, Oliver Shannon, Paul Christensen
Stay tuned to all of Atlanta United’s social media channels for all the coverage you need from the MLS Combine leading up to the draft. Then make sure to follow along at 12 p.m. ET on Friday, January 11th for the MLS SuperDraft, the first step in Atlanta United’s defense of their 2018 MLS Cup Championship.