PHILADELPHIA—Leading off a trade-heavy opening round, expansion franchise Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) selected Generation adidas (GA) defender Joao Moutinho from Akron as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft before trading into the No. 3 slot to add Pacific fullback Tristan Blackmon.
Portugese 20-year-old Moutinho played for the Sporting Lisbon academy through the Under-19 level before traversing the Atlantic to play at national powerhouse Akron. Moutinho scored 3 goals and 5 assists in 24 games, earning recognition as a USC First Team All-America as well as Freshman of the Year for both TopDrawerSoccer and the Mid-American Conference.
The second pick, defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce of Stanford, is also headed to Los Angeles, where he'll play for the rival LA Galaxy. A Charlotte, North Carolina product, Hilliard-Arce played four years for the Cardinal, winning three NCAA championships and ultimately finishing second in the 2017 MAC Hermann Trophy voting, along with USC First Team All-America and PAC-12 Conference Player of the Year recognition, capping it as College Cup Defensive Most Outstanding Player.
With the third pick came the first deal, as D.C. United sent a third straight player to the City of Angels, as United selected Blackmon on behalf of LAFC in exchange for $100,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) and $100,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM). Blackmon shot up the draft board, having entered the draft as a four-year senior from Pacific whose career culminated with West Coast Conference Defender of the Year recognition.
That exchange proved a harbinger, setting off a string of trades. The first selection to head away from the West Coast was Generation adidas winger Francis Atuahene, selected by the Montreal Impact and sent along to FC Dallas for $200,000 in GAM.
The next team held, with Orlando City SC snagging Wisconsin's Chris Mueller, but Montreal struck another deal, this time sending No. 7 pick Mason Toye (Indiana; Generation adidas) to Minnesota for $150,000 in TAM, leaving Le Bleu-blanc-noir two players down and $350,000 up in allocation money.
A pair of Generation adidas midfielders went next: with Syracuse's Mo Adams to Chicago, after the Fire sent $85,000 in GAM to Real Salt Lake, followed by Ema Twumasi joining fellow Right-to-Dreamer Atuahene at FCD.
Notre Dame's Jon Gallagher, a signed senior who led the Fighting Irish attack (27 goals in 41 games as a junior and senior), will get a chance to continue pushing things forward with Atlanta United, who selected him at No. 14 overall.
The latter stages of the first round provided a ground-breaking goalkeeper run. Though Eric Dick (Butler) was the first 'keeper off the board, to Sporting Kansas City at No. 13, picks No. 19-21 were all targeted for the touchline: Virginia's Jeff Caldwell (NYC), SMU's Michael Nelson (HOU) and No. 21 Ben Lundgaard (CLB). The four-GK total marked a SuperDraft record for the first round; the previous high was two (2016; No. 8 Andrew Tarbell; No. 17 Ryan Herman).
Virginia forward Edward Opoku, a late add to the GA class, was plucked by Columbus Crew SC in the second round (No. 32 overall). Maryland's Gordon Wild, who rounds out the 2018 GA selections, went to Atlanta shortly after. Selected No. 37 overall, he follows reigning AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year Julian Gressel on the Germany-to-US-college-to-MLS track.