Cheat sheet: What all 29 teams need in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft


The 2023 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas is taking place in 2022!

That’s right, folks. In addition to GAM and TAM, MLS has invented a way to literally bend time and thus, when the draft kicks off on Wednesday afternoon from St. Louis (5 pm ET), my companions and I will be broadcasting to you from the future! It’s the most innovative thing we’ve ever done. Pretty exciting.

As for the draft itself as a player acquisition tool, it’s a measure less exciting than it used to be, but is still a big deal. Just two seasons ago the New England Revolution won the Supporters’ Shield and set the single-season points record (73) with a backline that came entirely via the SuperDraft, while this year’s Shield-contending Philadelphia Union were anchored in the back by Jack Elliott (77th pick in 2017) and Andre Blake (1st pick in 2014). And then there are guys like Daryl Dike, Tajon Buchanan and Alistair Johnston who came into the league via the draft and exited it via multi-million dollar bids from significant European sides.

So, as always, you should pay attention.

With that in mind, here's the cheat sheet I've made for myself, focused on team needs I think can be addressed with draft picks. Understand this isn't a list of the most important thing they can address on the entire roster – nobody's going to draft a Hany Mukhtar this week – but rather a list of what I think these teams will be looking for when their name is called.

We’ll go in reverse alphabetical order:

Vancouver Whitecaps FC logo
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
  • First-Round Picks: Nos. 13 & 29
  • Top Draft Need: Central midfield, center back or right wingback

The ‘Caps roster is actually better than most seem to realize, though it’s somewhat thin at central midfield and is explicitly thin behind Julian Gressel at right wingback. Could be a case of “take the best crossing winger in the pool and teach him to be a two-way player,” which, once upon a time, is what Atlanta did with… Julian Gressel. Getting a useful backup at No. 13 isn’t a stretch.

Getting anything out of the 29th pick is, but remember Vancouver got Javain Brown 23rd a couple of years back. So they’ll actually look – they won’t just punt on it.

Toronto FC logo
Toronto FC
  • First-Round Pick: n/a
  • Top Draft Need: Left back or central midfield

Toronto yeeted the third pick and a bunch of other assets to Colorado for Mark-Anthony Kaye. I doubt they’ll be active on Wednesday.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 1
  • Top Draft Need: High-end attacking talent

I look at that roster and I see a hard-working, Energy Drink Soccer-styled bunch. And that’s fine, but even “press is the playmaker” teams need match-winners.

My money’s on Shakur Mohammed getting his name called here.

Sporting Kansas City logo
Sporting Kansas City
  • First-Round Pick: No. 8
  • Top Draft Need: Center back

Once upon a time Peter Vermes built a borderline dynasty through the draft (Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza, Chance Myers, C.J. Sapong, Dom Dwyer… what a run!), but it’s been years since they hit.

While it’s unlikely they’ll find exactly what they need at No. 8, well, Besler went 8th many, many moons ago. So it’s not unprecedented to find a franchise cornerstone at that spot.

Seattle Sounders FC logo
Seattle Sounders FC
  • First-Round Pick: No. 9
  • Top Draft Need: Left back or target forward

Seattle’s two-deep basically everywhere, which means they can focus on specialists if they want. Finding a modern-day Alan Gordon they can toss onto the field for the final 15 minutes when they’re chasing a result – or doing some all-hands-on-deck defending in their own box – seems like a reasonable aim here.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 4
  • Top Draft Need: Center forward

Jeremy Ebobisse is a lock as the starting No. 9, but with real overseas interest in Benji Kikanovic and Cade Cowell looking more and more like a winger, it gets pretty thin behind King Jebo. The best No. 9 on the board seems a safe bet here.

Real Salt Lake logo
Real Salt Lake
  • First-Round Pick: No. 16
  • Top Draft Need: Center back

Right now I’ve got Jaziel Orozco fourth on RSL’s CB depth chart and Zack Farnsworth fifth. Orozco is 5-foot-9 and Farnsworth, to this point in his career, is more of a LB.

So I think there’s an opening here for a pick to come in and win a job, just as Jasper Loffelsend did last season in central midfield.

Portland Timbers logo
Portland Timbers
  • First-Round Pick: No. 15
  • Top Draft Need: Midfield and backline depth

Left back, right back, center back, central midfield, d-mid… Portland’s got starters and backups in all those spots, but MLS teams could end up playing 50 games this year. Going just two deep probably isn’t enough.

Philadelphia Union logo
Philadelphia Union
  • First-Round Pick: No. 28
  • Top Draft Need: whatever

Despite having guys like Elliott and Blake in the side, Union GM Ernst Tanner pretty explicitly does not care much about the draft. My guess is he’ll trade this for a handful of GAM, but if he doesn’t, I could see them grabbing a right back since starter Olivier Mbaizo could very well be sold this winter.

Orlando City SC logo
Orlando City SC
  • First-Round Picks: Nos. 6 & 17
  • Top Draft Need: Speed in attack

I don’t care whether it’s a forward or a winger – the Lions must get another attacker into the mix who can make opposing backlines worry about space they’re leaving in behind. Right now it’s Benji Michel (if he indeed returns) or no one.

There are a lot of highly-rated wingers in this draft, by the way. One of them should be on the board at No. 6.

New York Red Bulls logo
New York Red Bulls
  • First-Round Pick: No. 21
  • Top Draft Need: Left back/wingback

I don’t really think they’ll get John Tolkin’s replacement here (and for what it’s worth, I do really think Tolkin’s gone either in this window or during the summer), but if they were picking for need, that’s what’d be atop their board.

And even if Tolkin’s not sold they’re super thin at that spot.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 26
  • Top Draft Need: Central midfield

Laugh if you want at the idea of one of the league’s most stocked teams, one that is regularly reinforced by CFG sign-and-loans, getting key pieces via the SuperDraft. Then recall Kevin O’Toole, who was picked 34th last year, acquitted himself well as a starter down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Getting a guy who can soak up midfield minutes at No. 26 would be golden for the Pigeons. They don’t need a match-winner, just someone who can reliably be counted on to stay solid and not lose the match when he’s on the field.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 10
  • Top Draft Need: Center back

They need to find some of the luck that let the likes of Buchanan, Brandon Bye and DeJuan Jones slip to them in prior drafts. Getting a CB of that caliber would be just perfect.

Nashville SC logo
Nashville SC
  • First-Round Pick: No. 11
  • Top Draft Need: Best talent available

Nashville got this pick in a swap with Charlotte, and whoever’s selected has an uphill battle getting on the field for significant minutes with this team – even with the addition of Leagues Cup and the club’s expectation of deep Open Cup and playoff runs.

Which is to say Nashville’s big offseason upgrades have to be of the DP variety, not of the “wow, this guy was a steal at No. 11!” variety.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 25
  • Top Draft Need: Central midfield or center back

It’s already thin in central midfield after the departures of Victor Wanyama and Ismael Kone, and it’ll be really, really thin along the backline if Kamal Miller and Joel Waterman follow Alistair Johnston out the door.

I have no idea what direction they’ll go here, but given the way this roster’s being constructed these days, my guess is whoever’s taken with this pick has a real chance to play real minutes from the jump. You don’t often see that from guys selected in the mid-20s.

The other thing I’m thinking about: It would not shock me at all to see Montréal trade up.

Minnesota United FC logo
Minnesota United FC
  • First-Round Pick: No. 19
  • Top Draft Need: Center back

They have four CBs on the team and Doneil Henry, who turns 30 in April, is the baby of the bunch. Youth and athleticism at this spot would be a godsend, especially since it’s not clear they have the budget to go out and shop for a replacement if Bakaye Dibassy can’t make it back from his leg injury.

Inter Miami CF logo
Inter Miami CF
  • First-Round Pick: No. 18
  • Top Draft Need: Runners

It’s pretty clear that, whether the guy pulling the strings is Alejandro Pozuelo or a certain recently-crowned World Cup champion, Miami’s going to be built around a genius No. 10 and nine other guys who’ll do the running for him.

That is a fine game model in MLS. Find one of those runners here. I don’t care which position (though right back is clearly thinner than any other spot on the roster as of now).

  • First-Round Pick: No. 23
  • Top Draft Need: Goalkeeper

I’m just not super convinced by any of the goalkeepers on their 2022 roster, including starter Jonathan Bond. Picking a guy here who can make the team and, at the very least, show well in MLS NEXT Pro would be a real help.

  • First-Round Pick: n/a
  • Top Draft Need: lol

LAFC traded this pick to the ‘Caps a couple of years ago for an international roster slot. I’m certain they’re fine with that decision.

Houston Dynamo FC logo
Houston Dynamo FC
  • First-Round Pick: No. 5
  • Top Draft Need: Winger

Right now Houston’s starting wingers are Thor Ulfarsson and Corey Baird, the first of whom is clearly a center forward and the second of whom is clearly a winger who has nonetheless always played better in MLS as a center forward.

If they’re going to play a 4-3-3, they need real wingers via any acquisition method available. Period.

D.C. United logo
D.C. United
  • First-Round Pick: No. 2
  • Top Draft Need: Right back, central midfield

D.C. have starters in those two spots, but virtually nothing else beyond that, and are limited in what types of big-name acquisitions they can make to fill out the roster.

Thing is, though, this draft is expected to be heavier on wingers and center backs than midfielders and fullbacks. So their best bet is maybe to take a right winger who’s game for the often-seen transition to fullback at the MLS level.

FC Dallas logo
FC Dallas
  • First-Round Pick: No. 24
  • Top Draft Need: Center back

Right now they’re only three deep at CB, and there’s nobody obviously set to make the jump from North Texas SC. Getting a solid player who can make the team and provide league-average center back minutes would be a godsend.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 14
  • Top Draft Need: Best talent available

The Crew have four wingers on the roster, one of whom (Kevin Molino) is over 30 and frequently hurt, two of whom have not looked MLS caliber, and the fourth (Luis Diaz) is useful but one-dimensional.

It’s wishcasting to expect a solution to that issue midway through the first round, so I’m sure they’ll just go with whoever the best available talent is regardless of position.

Colorado Rapids logo
Colorado Rapids
  • First-Round Picks: Nos. 3 & 12
  • Top Draft Need: Left back or center forward

Currently, Colorado’s starting left back is either second-year pro Anthony Markanich, veteran right back Steven Beitashour or maybe soon-to-be-converted winger Sam Nicholson. Whatever the answer is there, it seems like an upgrade is possible.

Meanwhile, if Diego Rubio’s dropping into more of a full-time playmaker role this year, then the two center forwards on the roster are 18-year-old homegrown Darren Yapi and… Kevin Cabral.

They’ve got to go with the best center forward on the board for one of these picks.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 22
  • Top Draft Need: Center back, left wingback

Cincy’s threadbare in four of five spots along that backline. While there are no guarantees when you’re picking at No. 22, and while I’m sure GM Chris Albright has other acquisitions lined up, bear in mind they struck gold last season with Roman Celentano at No. 2 and Ian Murphy at 14.

  • First-Round Pick: n/a
  • Top Draft Need: Unearthing this year’s version of Elliott or Loffelsend

The Fire sent their sixth pick to Orlando as part of the package to get Chris Mueller, which was obviously the right call. They don’t pick until 64th overall (third round), and following the Elliott/Loffelsend blueprint (dominant college player who drops because he takes up an international roster slot) seems like the right decision to me once they’re finally on the board.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 20
  • Top Draft Need: Central midfield or center back depth

This team is terrifyingly thin up the gut. The starters are very good, mind you, but it is a drop into the abyss if basically any of them picks up a knock.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 27
  • Top Draft Need: Central midfield and center back depth

Just getting a guy who can make the roster and pinch-hit in Open Cup games somewhere up the spine would be a major victory here. “Best goalkeeper on the board” should also be in play given how thin the Verde & Black are behind Brad Stuver.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 7
  • Top Draft Need: Best domestic talent available

Atlanta’s clearly not going to burn an international roster slot on a draft pick, and they’ve got holes basically everywhere except at the No. 10 and left back. So whoever Garth Lagerwey & the front office brain trust likes, irrespective of position, is going to be the best bet here.