The 2017 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas will kick off on Friday, with all 22 MLS teams looking to find players who can be key contributors to their teams going forward.
Since 2010, some teams have been better at finding these types of players than others. Since that year, a total of 623 players have been selected. 233 of those players, or 37 percent, have gone on to appear in a MLS game.
It should be noted that most of the clubs have seen changes in the decision-makers on draft day over the past seven years, but it is worthwhile to look at the track record of the teams in terms of actual contribution on the field.
The club that has been most successful in finding players who can contribute has been the Philadelphia Union, who have seen 21 of the players they have selected take the field for their team. They are one of the 15 teams with a full seven SuperDrafts this decade to accrue players while the Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps, Montreal Impact, Orlando City SC and New York City FC entered MLS after 2010.
While the Union have been the most successful in terms of the quantity of players they have selected, it is clear what team has been the most successful in terms of quality.
D.C. United have seen 10 draft picks don the Black-and-Red since 2010, with players like Perry Kitchen, Steve Birnbaum and Taylor Kemp become some of the most important pieces to the club. The 10 players who were picked and ended up playing for D.C. played 5,241 minutes for the team on average. That is by far the highest among any MLS team.
The numbers above reflect minutes played by players for teams who drafted them. Only players who ended up playing for that team were counted.
Surprisingly, Portland ranks second on this list, which is almost entirely due to the presence of Darlington Nagbe. The midfielder has played over 15,000 minutes for the Timbers, which coupled with the fact that just five players picked by the Timbers have ended up playing for them, made the team’s average perhaps a bit higher than the context would suggest.
Looking at a different number, the number of minutes played by draft picks divided by the number of drafts in which teams participated, the Union are the team that comes out on top.
The Montreal Impact have struggled making SuperDraft picks since joining MLS, including their first-ever pick in Andrew Wenger, who played under 2,000 minutes with the club before being traded to Philadelphia.
The New York Red Bulls are the least successful when it comes to teams who have been in the league since 2010, with only Tim Ream and Chris Duvall making notable contributions. Of course, they have been helped by their Homegrown Players including Juan Agudelo, Matt Miazga and Sean Davis, so a comparison of young players as opposed to only those from the SuperDraft would certainly lead to different results.