So which player could end up hearing his name called first? Miami are in the middle of building their expansion roster, with the first and third picks in Thursday’s draft having the potential to see minutes sooner, rather than later.
Below is a look at some of the prime candidates to get tabbed with the first pick later this week.
CB Jack Maher, Indiana
Defenders coming from the college game to MLS seem to have the edge on attackers, in terms of recent success (overlooking last year’s Rookie of the Year winner). Maher has the makings of a modern-center back, and one in particular that can find success in MLS. He moves well, has a good motor and while he can improve with his passing as he faces more pressure in a step up, Maher has the ability to see minutes right away this season. He’s also a rare prospect in this class, in that he could potentially have a U.S. men’s national team future if his development continues. Should Miami be looking to reinforce things up front via the draft, obviously Maher becomes a lower priority.
CF Daryl Dike, Virginia
Dike signed his Generation adidas deal on Tuesday and the sophomore striker will be difficult to pass on, with his combination of physique and ability. While not yet the finished product, he’s a physical specimen who could play right away — as a starter or from off the bench. Miami can also look at his improvement from his first to second year in college soccer as an indicator that there is even more room for the Oklahoma native. That could also keep Miami away, if the polish of someone like Maher wins out.
CF Robbie Robinson, Clemson
The highest-scoring forward available in the draft with regards to 2019 production, there’s a decent case to be made for Miami to lean the way of the South Carolina native. With an eye towards grooming him as a backup, Robinson could be a building block for the bench, able to come in and offer a scoring touch. And given the changing winds of the draft, getting a capable backup forward, even with the top pick, is no knock. His injury history – Robinson missed almost all of his sophomore season – is a reason to stay away with the No. 1 pick.
CB Henry Kessler, Virginia
Size isn’t everything at the back. But if Miami rate the 6'4" Kessler over Maher, then there’s every chance Kessler could emerge as the prime candidate to go No. 1 overall. He’s a touch older than Maher and may not have the exact same pedigree, but player evaluation is subjective and the decision-makers in South Florida could end up pulling for the New York native.
RB Dylan Nealis, Georgetown
There’s a case to be made Nealis is the most MLS-ready senior prospect on the board, and with a number of off-budget roster spots already filled via trade, the right back could be a prime option. He may not have the upside as Maher, Robinson or Dike, but Nealis is a safe choice. On the flip side, if the technical staff is concerned about his one-on-one defending at another level — it’s not a huge knock, rather, the same question facing most college defenders making the jump — that could be a reason to pass with the first overall pick.