The 2022 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas is set for Tuesday afternoon (2:30 pm ET), and the eight-player Generation adidas class is drawing plenty of hype.
Decision-makers can be particularly drawn to GA players because their salaries aren't charged against an MLS team's annual salary budget, providing an added incentive for that club to develop the player.
But which GA player will have the biggest impact in MLS? Who is most ready to challenge for big minutes? How does international or domestic status impact their chances?
They're topics the Extratime crew debated on their latest episode, with co-host Michael Lahoud believing Duke striker Thor Ulfarsson has the edge needed to succeed in MLS. The Icelandic forward had 15 goals this past season, including one viral (and controversial) moment in the NCAA tournament against UCLA.
“He just has a ruthlessness about him and as he went, the Duke Blue Devils went. They had a resurgent year in college soccer and he was the primary reason,” Lahoud said. “There were younger players around him who helped, but I really like the upside of his game. I think he’s got speed, he’s direct, he has an eye for goal, he can score a variety of goals and, more than anything, his determination and attitude is one to watch.”
Co-host Matt Doyle said history states a domestic center back is usually the safe choice and the best of that bunch might be Kipp Keller out of Saint Louis University.
“In the history of the SuperDraft, you almost never go wrong taking the best domestic center back as high as you possibly can,” Doyle said. “Whether he has national team upside or not, he certainly looks to have MLS starter upside at the very least. Guys like that coming through the draft have a very rich history of panning out. That is the direction I would go if I was building a team.”
However, if Keller is off the board, Gass likes another Billiken standout there.
“I think Cincinnati should be going to Saint Louis [University] either way because if it’s not [Keller], it should be Patrick Schulte,” Gass said. “Why would you not take a goalkeeper, domestic player, Generation adidas for a team that has spent how much international capital over the last few years on goalkeeper? I get they brought in Alec Kann and I think that’s the right move, but Alec Kann isn’t a difference-maker over the next few years. You have Alec Kann right now to be your starter, bring in a guy you can develop, get to that next level.”
Gass also shouted out Stanford forward Ousseni Bouda as arguably the best player available. And given his international status as a native of Burkina Faso, Gass surmised either Houston Dynamo FC (No. 4 pick) or FC Dallas (No. 6 pick) – Western Conference teams that have international slots available and are looking for young attacking help – could be Bouda's most likely landing spot.