Assessing the MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas these days requires at least two years to really determine the level of success. After all, chances were limited for the draft class a season ago, though there were plenty of flashes from 2020 draftees during the 2021 MLS season.
Then again, who isn’t tempted by some snap judgments?
Players selected in Tuesday’s 2022 MLS SuperDraft have plenty of work to do, and the launch of MLS NEXT Pro should provide another avenue to get minutes. That was another factor hovering over this draft, though plenty of teams still passed come the second and third rounds.
Let’s hand out team-by-team grades.
Getting a Generation adidas player like Erik Centeno (Pacific) in the late teens doesn’t always work out, but there is roster flexibility that comes with it. Centeno has upside and a variety of positional outcomes, plus can get ample minutes with Atlanta United 2.
Second-round pick Tristan Trager is an intriguing forward out of Air Force, though service time commitments are always a variable when players come from these paths.
Kipp Keller alone won’t immediately improve the Austin FC backline, but it’s a huge boost that the Saint Louis University and Generation adidas defender fell to Josh Wolff's team. Second-round pick Charlie Asensio is a solid add after winning the national championship with Clemson in the fall. If he can handle the increase in pace in MLS, he could develop into a contributor.
A solid day for the league newcomers, who opted for Ben Bender out of Maryland with the No. 1 overall pick. If the Generation adidas midfielder can impact the game in the final third from an attacking perspective, that’s a net positive.
Kipp Keller did seem like the safer option here, though Charlotte already had plenty of central defenders. Second-round pick Kyle Holcomb (Wake Forest, forward) is a sneaky good pick that could really pan out. Clemson goalkeeper George Marks will get a shot at a roster spot after being picked in the third round.
Adding defenders via the SuperDraft is always the safest route. The Fire selected players with plenty of quality and pedigree, picking Kendall Burks, Charlie Ostrem (Washington), Carlo Ritaccio (Akron) and Yanis Leerman (UCF). They traded down and were still able to grab Burks, though the question with him is if he’ll head to Chicago or sign with a team in the UK, where he’s spending time on trial.
Passing on Keller at No. 2 is a risky decision. That’s not a knock on Indiana and Generation adidas goalkeeper Roman Celentano, but more a reflection of Keller’s potential to be a quality central defender in MLS for a decade.
Obviously, FC Cincinnati did try to address the center-back need by bringing in Ian Murphy (Duke), though there were perhaps other directions to go. Early second-round pick Nicholas Markanich has sleeper potential after an excellent attacking career at Northern Illinois.
The Rapids maneuvered down the draft, acquiring allocation money (up to $175,000 in GAM), and still added players who could be a factor over the next couple of years. Mohamed Omar joins from Notre Dame, projecting as a defensive midfielder or even a center back project.
Anthony Markanich was a big part of Northern Illinois’ success and is seen as a quality left back prospect. Add in second-round pick Roberto Molina, a wide attacker with intrigue who played in the USL Championship in 2021, and it was a very good day for Colorado.
Adding a third goalkeeper via the draft and the Generation adidas program is never a bad move to make. The Crew will need to work with Patrick Schulte (Saint Louis University) and get him minutes, but he has a bright future ahead of him.
Other logical moves were made on the day, grabbing two solid center backs in Philip Quinton (Notre Dame) and Jacob Erlandson (Bowling Green). Even Chris Donovan has some intrigue, as he provided a consistent attacking threat in his four years at Drexel.
There was plenty to like on paper about the FCD draft class; going with Isaiah Parker at the No. 3 spot added the highest upside player in the entire draft pool. A dynamic talent who could play on the left side, he can develop at North Texas SC and arrives as a Generation adidas player through Saint Louis University.
There were other center backs rated ahead of Lucas Bartlett (St. John's), who is essentially the finished product as he turns 25 years old this year. If he’s not ready to start from day one, it might not look as great. Tsiki Ntsabeleng is another electric, dynamic wide player who was part of a strong attack at Oregon State.
Can’t argue too much with D.C. United’s decision to trade out of the first round, even if they could use decent-level reinforcements (especially in central defense, which this draft had plenty of options). It was a good day for Loudoun United, however, as Sofiane Djeffal (Oregon State) and Skage Simonsen (Southern Methodist) provide European flavor to the team’s reserve side. Alex Nagy is a domestic attacking player from Vermont.
Should all three head to Loudoun, they’ll add some experience and quality with perhaps an eye on a first-team opportunity down the road.
The Dynamo aren’t about to rely on Thor Ulfarsson alone to score goals right away, and his adjustment from college soccer to the pro game will be a huge factor in determining the success of this decision. The Icelandic forward out of Duke University holds Generation adidas status.
Second-round picks Paulo Lima (Providence, midfielder) and Arturo Ordonez (Pittsburgh, defender) are solid players, though both hold international status.
Similar to Philadelphia, LAFC had no draft picks on Tuesday. That was less a product of intentionally moving out of the draft, and more about making a series of moves over the past couple of years.
The first-round pick went to Colorado as part of the Mark-Anthony Kaye deal, which provided flexibility to eventually bring in Cristian Arango, the 2021 MLS Newcomer of the Year. The second-round pick was related to a move up the allocation order, and the third-round pick traded for the rights to Cal Jennings (who remains on the roster). It’s a solid use of draft capital.
Farai Mutatu has the potential to become one of the top attacking players in this draft, so grabbing the Michigan State forward at No. 21 is solid value for the LA Galaxy. That’s no guarantee of success, but it’s a solid decision even if Mutatu is more likely to play with LA Galaxy II.
Left back Chandler Vaughn could return to Saint Louis University, but drafting his rights provides a chance to really capitalize if he heads back to school and improves ahead of 2023.
Getting Ryan Sailor (Washington) at No. 9 adds a central defender ready to compete for minutes, and if he adjusts well, it helps fit a real need for Inter Miami. Chris Henderson tapped into his knowledge of the Pacific Northwest, also drafting Lucas Meek (Washington) in the second round, a high-upside player coming off an injury in 2021 (though Meek also recently had knee surgery).
With a history of drafting well, Minnesota made a good pick at No. 17 overall by grabbing Tani Oluwaseyi out of Big East program St. John’s University. A winger/forward type, he missed a big chunk of the 2021 season and could fit as a winger in MLS.
Jojea Kwizera in the first round seemed like a bit of a reach at the time, even if some college coaches spoke highly of the Utah Valley University forward as a sleeper. It’s a sign Montréal did plenty of legwork, however, and it will be interesting to see if Keizera can stick and provide a big value.
Trading up to select UCLA's Ahmed Longmire allowed Nashville to bring in the center back with the highest upside after Keller. He’ll need to stay healthy, but the Las Vegas native has the ability to be a starter in MLS.
With only two goalkeepers on the roster, adding another in the draft doesn’t hurt; Will Meyer (Akron) was one of the top seniors available.
Grabbing a goalkeeper (Jacob Jackson out of Loyola Marymount) with three already on the roster was a bit of a surprise for the New England Revolution, though when it comes to goalkeepers and the draft, to each his own. Ben Reveno is one to watch, a center back out of UCLA who could anchor Revs II.
The MLS Cup 2021 champs traded out of the first round, sending the pick to FC Dallas. With their first pick in the second round, New York City FC added Kevin O’Toole, a left-footed attacking player who dominated the Ivy League at Princeton. Kingsford Adjei is a tricky winger/forward from Dayton they selected at the end of the second round, a decent pick at that stage.
Trading away $200k in allocation money for the No. 7 overall pick to select Matt Nocita isn’t a mind-boggling move in a vacuum. He’s highly-regarded as a 6-foot-8, athletic center back. However, as a Naval Academy grad, it’s unclear when he'll join the team (most service academy players finish school in the spring of their senior year) and how long he can play before having to fulfill his service time commitments. RBNY did their homework here, though, and showed initiative to land Nocita.
New York also traded into the first round to select O’Vonte Mullings (Florida Gulf Coast), a winger who should be a good fit for the team’s style.
If Orlando can find the right way to set up Jack Lynn (Notre Dame) to succeed, the attacker has the tenacity and quality to make a successful jump. That’s easier said than done, of course.
Nathan Dossantos is an intriguing, ball-playing center back from Marshall who helped them win the national championship in the spring of 2021. He’ll need to show the defensive quality to really stick.
After waiting to the end of the draft to see if Philadelphia would select anyone at No. 82, it was no surprise to see them pass again. There’s no big transfer fee to boost this year’s grade, however, and it will be interesting to see if Philly’s continued dismissal of the draft comes back to bite them one day. After all, two starters on their team in 2021 (Andre Blake and Jack Elliott) joined via that fashion.
Of course, the decision to trade away the second-round pick to land Young DP forward Julian Carranza on loan from Inter Miami could prove to be a savvy move.
Picking late in the first round, Portland got good value in Grand Canyon defender Justin Rasmussen, who could potentially hit as a left back. Julian Bravo (Santa Clara) is a left-sided center back who could also play as a left back, while Sivert Haugli (Virginia Tech) is a good flier. A tall central defender with soft feet, he’s an international who will likely get a start with Portland Timbers 2.
Real Salt Lake pulled in a modest sum ($50k) for the No. 25 pick in the first round. One could argue there were players to target at that point, though that’s splitting hairs.
They added two older internationals in the second and third rounds, bringing in Pedro Fonseca (Louisville, forward) and Jasper Loeffelsend (Pittsburgh, defender). Both face uphill battles to make the MLS squad and are more likely ear-marked to provide experience to the Real Monarchs.
Ousseni Bouda is an electric attacking player San Jose will have known extremely well playing in the Bay Area. The Stanford product and Generation adidas signing hails from Burkina Faso in West Africa.
Trading back in to select Clemson product Oskar Agren at No. 13 provides a candidate to boost backline depth. The only downside is both players would require international spots, with Agren from Sweden.
After trading out of the first round, Seattle went local with a pair of second- and third-round picks. Achille Robin (Washington) is a quality defender who likely would’ve gone higher if he wasn’t an international. Hal Uderitz (Seattle) is a tough-tackling defender, and both are all but certain to go to Tacoma Defiance.
The Sounders’ biggest draft-related news was signing Washington midfielder Dylan Teves to a homegrown contract. He was a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist in 2021 as the Huskies made the national final.
It’s hard to really quibble with Sporting KC’s decisions here. In need of backline depth, they nabbed Grand Canyon’s Esai Easley (No. 22) and Maryland’s Brett St. Martin (No. 50). Both are right-sided center backs who could potentially be tried as outside backs.
With a relatively full roster, it’s going to be an uphill battle for Vancouver’s draftees to grab a spot. Simon Becher (Saint Louis University) in the first round is a solid value, even if he’s something of a ‘tweener positionally.
The other picks are solid for the spot in the draft: Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador from Clemson is a good connector in central midfield, while Giovanni Aguilar offered a bright spot for Cal State Northridge in the fall. Theo Collomb (UNC Greensboro) and Vitor Dias (Marshall) in the third round were two of the best-attacking players in college soccer in 2021, though both are internationals.