It feels weird even thinking that the MLS SuperDraft is upon us here. In just a few days, the league will gather to take part in the annual college draft, that has been shrunken down a bit from previous years to just being a web-only event (no more player speeches from the sound of it for one).
FC Dallas has two first round picks to deal with on Thursday afternoon. The #14 and #17 picks are theirs right now, thanks to their finish in 2019 and a trade with D.C. United. As things stand today, the roster is nearly full for the 2020 season, meaning there is a good chance that one or both of these picks could end up being stashed away in the USL League One or even loaned out to a USL Championship side provided a landing spot makes sense.
Since the draft is nearly devolving from its usefulness of the past, there are some clear and fairly obvious strategies that Luchi Gonzalez and company can employ on Friday to their advantage and get the most out of this event. Here are some things I’ll be looking for them to do in this draft.
Best available player
As the draft has taken a bit of a hit in terms of talent through the Generation adidas program in recent years, it feels fairly unlikely that FC Dallas will land a GA player at either of their first round picks. GA picks are cap friendly as we’ve seen the last couple of years with Francis Atahuene and Ema Twumasi, but they’re not always sure things when it comes to on the field production in year one. And seeing how there are so few of them in the 2020 class, it feels unlikely one will stumble that far down the boards.
Still, sometimes the best way to go about these drafts is to take the best player available, regardless of the position. FC Dallas has done that a good bit in recent years to great success with guys like Jacori Hayes falling into their lap, or even with last year’s duo of Callum Montgomery and John Nelson. Sometimes it is best to just get the top player on your draft board when it comes your turn to pick regardless of the position.
Stick with defensive players
While it may seem odd to load up on more defenders given the pool of talent waiting in the wings with North Texas SC and academy players, I have no issue with FC Dallas adding more defensive depth through the draft. We’ve seen over the years that adding a center back or a fullback has kind of been the bread and butter of how this club finds talent in this process.
Marco Ferruzzi has been the main man behind that for years and I would imagine he won’t hesitate to pull the trigger on another center back in this with one of those two first round picks. This draft is fairly loaded with defensive talent as it is, so snagging someone like Patrick Nielsen from Michigan State, Jeremy Kelly from UNC, or Nkosi Burgess from Seattle, all seem like a likely bet to me.
Add depth but look for NTSC players
Last year we saw Montgomery and Nelson spend plenty of time in the USL League One with NTSC. I would pretty much expect the same to be true of this year’s duo of picks (should FCD keep them). Given how MLS clubs retain the player rights to whomever they draft for a full year if they don’t sign them to a first team contract, kind of makes me wonder if FCD will work the draft and stash mentality here with these picks. Right now we know NTSC needs some more depth and players with a bit of some good experience under their belts.
Trade the picks to either move up or move out
FCD got the two picks by way of their record and a trade in 2019. We’ve seen them make loads of trades in the draft in years past to either move up or down in the draft but that was made more possible when the club had a higher drafting position to start with. Beginning the day at #14 and #17 makes moving up a little tougher to do but it isn’t totally out of the question if they find the right team (maybe an expansion one) to work with.
I don’t think moving out of the draft completely will actually work (though we’ve seen teams do it in the past), mainly due to NTSC and their roster needs.