PHILADELPHIA – There was wheeling and dealing, gripping and grinning, laughter and tears as the first two rounds 2018 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas unfolded at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Friday.
So who reaped the richest harvest? Here's our rundown of the first day:
Atlanta United: B-
It’s difficult to imagine a college kid coming in and pulling a Julian Gressel for Atlanta this season. And by drafting three more players that require an international spot (Jon Gallagher, Oliver Shannon and Gordon Wild) the Five Stripes may have complicated their roster slots outlook a bit. That said, all three are likely to spend most of 2018 at ATL UTD 2, the club's new USL side.
Chicago Fire: A
A crazy day for the Fire saw them trade up twice into the first round, where they grabbed a pair of ACC studs in Jon Bakero and Mo Adams. Both have the upside and ability to contribute this season and beyond.
Colorado Rapids: C+
Without a pick until the second round, the Rapids managed to grab Alan Winn, a potential-rich wide player that could end up making the roster and seeing minutes. Frantzdy Pierrot is a big No. 9 that can occupy space well and compete against MLS defenders.
Columbus Crew SC: B-
An intriguing draft for the Black-and-Gold. Virginia Tech goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard looks like a bit of a stretch at 21st overall. But Edward Opoku could be a real sleeper: a pacey, at-times electric Right to Dream product who should fit well into Gregg Berhalter’s system. Taking a flyer on skillful midfielder Jake Rozhansky – who just signed a pro deal in Israel – could pay off down the line, but Crew SC might have been better done with their third round pick.
D.C. United: INC
Dealing its only pick of the first two rounds away for allocation money is a savvy move, and Ben Olsen indicated that the team has a couple of moves lined up during media rounds.
FC Dallas: A
Oscar Pareja loves his fast attackers that can bomb up and down the pitch. He got not one, but two in the top 11 picks in Francis Atuahene and Ema Twumasi. The bonus? Both are members of the Generation adidas class, a big boost for roster flexibility. A second-round flier on Mauro Cichero, a talented goalcorer from SMU who suffered an ACL injury late last season, is icing on the cake.
Houston Dynamo: D+
Michael Nelson’s going to be a well-known commodity playing in Texas, though Ben Lundgaard might’ve been a better pick at that spot. Hulking forward Mac Steeves has recent injury history, though he could be a formidable force if healthy.
Some eyebrows were raised when the expansion newcomers picked two players that will require international roster slots, but Bob Bradley seems unbothered. Getting the best pure soccer player with the No. 1 pick is a smart way to go, not to mention the versatility that Joao Moutinho possesses. Tristan Blackmon comes with an expensive price tag, as they sent $200,000 in allocation money to D.C. United for the No. 3 pick. Pol Calvet Planellas is another quality player that can fill out the roster, despite coming with an international tag.
LA Galaxy: B+
In need of a culture boost, the Galaxy selected two captains from the back-to-back-to-back NCAA champs Stanford. Tomas Hilliard-Arce has a senior contract already and could compete for starting minutes soon, while Drew Skundrich faces an uphill battle to crack the rotation for LA, but could end up as a big piece for LA Galaxy II.
Minnesota United: A
After trading down, then trading up, the Loons came away with two of the best picks, on paper, in the first round. Mason Toye’s a project, but has arguably the highest ceiling of the Generation adidas players. Wyatt Omsberg has the size, skill and ability to make it into the starting lineup this year for Minnesota. Getting Carter Manley with the final pick of the first round was cheap, though he’s got to show that he can play right back at pro level. Second round pick Xavier Gomez, a two-way central midfielder that could potentially do the job as a No. 6, is an intriguing add.
Montreal Impact: INC
Starting the day with two picks in the top 10, the Impact ended up trading away both picks for allocation money, likely earmarked for future or already-completed moves.
New England Revolution: D+
There is certain upside to both Mark Segbers and Brandon Bye, who were both picked in the top 10. Both are athletic players who spent time in college playing higher up the field. They have the physical tools to compete in MLS; the question remains how the adjustment goes to their new position.
New York City FC: C-
Goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell was NYCFC’s first round pick, a decent backup option for Sean Johnson this season. There were better options available in the second round when the team went with Wright State’s AJ Paterson, though.
New York Red Bulls: B-
In the first round, the Red Bulls went with the obvious pick, selecting RBNY U-23s forward Brian White. While he may not have a clear position in MLS, he will be a well-known commodity to the Red Bull technical staff. Left back Niko de Vera is something of a sleeper, and should be able to contribute to Red Bulls II with an eye on making it to the MLS team sooner rather than later. Forward Tom Barlow is a big body that thrived up front with Orlando City draft pick Chris Mueller.
Orlando City SC: B+
The Lions have just one pick this year, but they used it well, snaring Chris Mueller at No. 6 overall. Wisconsin’s attacking star was the top assist-getter in NCAA Division I last year and he brings a useful skillset to Jason Kreis’ side.
Philadelphia Union: INC
Portland Timbers: INC
With no picks on the day, the Timbers were quiet. They did announce the signing of Stanford forward Foster Langsdorf to a Homegrown contract, giving fans something to look forward to this season.
Real Salt Lake: B
RSL rely on their academy as much as anyone in MLS and they’ve built out the pipeline with Real Monarchs, their USL side, which is the most likely destination for today’s sole pick, Ricky Lopez-Espin. The Creighton product arrives from an NCAA program with a proven nous for honing talent; now we’ll see if his finishing instincts can translate at pro level.
San Jose Earthquakes: B+
After starting off with a bit of a surprise pick and grabbing defender Paul Marie, the Earthquakes picked a couple of intriguing forwards in Danny Musovski and Mohamed Thiaw. There’s a good chance at least one of them pans out and scores goals this season if given a chance.
Seattle Sounders FC: C+
The selection of Alex Roldan, brother of Cristian, is the headliner for Seattle, though both him and Markus Fjortoft have a long battle to make it to the first-team roster. Both could end up signed by S2.
Sporting KC: C
Better talent may have been available for Sporting at picks No. 13 and 17. But they added towering goalkeeper Eric Dick, with a place for him to get minutes at Swope Park.
Toronto FC: B-
Like other sides, a Toronto FC draft pick can be viewed as a candidate for the team’s USL side. Snapping up Tim Kubel brings in a player that is a good fit for their style at that point in the draft, and goalkeeper Drew Shepherd was a sleeper in the goalkeeper spot and should be able to latch on with TFC II.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: B
Never a bad day at the draft when grabbing two of the better outside backs on the board. Justin Fiddes is limited with the ball but athletic enough to stick, while Lucas Stauffer has more soccer savvy and can play either spot in the back.