The 2016 Re-Entry Draft is in the books -- one of those unique roster-building processes in MLS, the kind of thing that may require more time to explain than it takes to make all of the selections in a given year.
Put simply, players who are out-of-contract or had their options declined and are at least 23 with a minimum of three years of MLS experience or are at least 25 with a minimum of four years of league experience are eligible for Re-Entry. All teams get a chance to select eligible players, in reverse order of finish from the 2016 season. The draft is divided up into two stages, held on separate days, with the terms of the contract offer required by teams on selected players differing depending on the stage (Stage 1 results | Stage 2 results).
This year, a total of seven players were selected, and while all teams and players still must sign contracts to make the players' addition to the team official, here are three observations from this year's Re-Entry Draft.
Get your defenders and goalkeepers here!
Six of the seven players selected in this year's Re-Entry Draft are defenders or goalkeepers. Houston ultimately selected two defenders, Dylan Remick in Stage 1 and Leonardo in Stage 2, while Josh Williams may be on a reunion course in Columbus after being selected in Stage 2. On the goalkeeping side, Orlando picked Patrick McLain in Stage 1, Seattle took Bryan Meredith in Stage 1, and Sporting KC selected Andrew Dykstra in Stage 2.
In all likelihood, all three goalkeepers, if ultimately signed, will serve as backups for their respective teams. The defenders may be a different story, however. All three have been regular starters in past seasons, but are coming off reserve roles and/or injury in 2016. Again, assuming Remick, Leonardo and Williams sign with the teams that selected them, all three offer experienced MLS depth at the very least, and given the defensive issues of Houston and Columbus in 2016, each could also get an opportunity to become starters in 2017.
Building the Dynamo
It's a new era in Houston, and while the Dynamo's two selections may not blow MLS out of the water, they were the most active in the Re-Entry Draft this season. Between these defensive pickups and the announced signings of forward Alberth Elis and defender Adolfo Machado, new Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera's roster is starting to take shape. Expect quite a few more moves before the season begins in Houston, but again, the additions of Remick and Leonardo will contribute to a new-look Dynamo, something many will relish after a few tough seasons.
New team, new Olmes?
The only attacking player selected in the Re-Entry Draft this year, Olmes Garcia's selection by the San Jose Earthquakes in Stage 2 is intriguing on a number of levels. Most notably, can Garcia (pictured above) jumpstart his MLS career with the Quakes? Garcia is still just 24, and has four years of MLS experience under his belt at Real Salt Lake. But the Colombian had become more marginalized in Utah as his tenure went on, only scoring one goal and one assist this past season.
But there's always been potential with him. Perpetually buried in the depth chart at RSL, San Jose have plenty of room for another striker option next to or in spell of Chris Wondolowski, and Garcia's speedy, dynamic game is considerably different than Wondo's. Even if he retains a reserve role, Garcia could find a new lease on life in MLS with a new environment, and fans can see if he'll really have the breakout season long promised but never delivered with RSL.