SuperDraft - 2020 - draft grades

2020 MLS SuperDraft Grades | Travis Clark

The true value of every SuperDraft won’t be known until a year or two — at least. And while it’s a long shot to suggest that a future US men’s national team player emerged from the second round, who doesn’t love a quickfire reaction?

In the first two rounds of the draft, eight goalkeepers were picked, as teams look to stock up at that position. A word of caution — at this point in the life of the SuperDraft, a good portion of most picks are going to start out in the USL, whether in the Championship or League One. And of course, MLS Cup is unlikely to be decided by a draft pick, even if the likes of Chase Gasper and Hassani Dotson were two rookies that made a big impression right away after joining the league via the draft last year.

Below are grades for each team from the first two rounds.


Atlanta United

GRADE: B+ Faced with an immediate need, Atlanta came away with Patrick Nielsen, a tall, polished, no-nonsense defender. Whether the team can accommodate his international status is the obstacle, but there’s a good enough player here to at least be a reserve defender if he proves his mettle in preseason.

Draft summary:

  • Patrick Nielsen (Round 1, #23)


Chicago Fire FC

GRADE: A- In addition to trading out of the No. 10 pick to net some allocation money, Jonathan Jimenez (picked at No. 26) is someone that can come in, show he is healthy and get on the field sooner rather than later at left back.

Draft summary:

  • Traded No. 10 overall pick to NY Red Bulls for $100,000 in General Allocation Money
  • Jonathan Jimenez (Round 1, #26)


FC Cincinnati

GRADE: B One year after being one of the stories of the draft, FC Cincy adopted a much different approach this time after trading away the No. 3 pick back in November. Rey Ortiz would require an international spot, but he was one of the most talented attacking midfielders in college soccer during his four years in Portland.

Draft summary:

  • Rey Ortiz (Round 2, #29)


Colorado Rapids

GRADE: B It was a quickfire set of trades for the Rapids, who acquired Jeremy Kelly from Montreal after he was selected No. 9 overall. Kelly offers the team central midfield depth and the ability to also play as a right back. They turned around and recouped the $75,000 in allocation money by dealing away the No. 11 pick to Nashville.

Draft summary:

  • Traded No. 11 overall pick to Nashville for $75,000 in General Allocation Money
  • Traded $75,000 in General Allocation Money to Montreal for Jeremy Kelly (Round 1, #9)
  • Robin Afamefuna (Round 2, #37)


Columbus Crew SC

GRADE: B+ Grabbing a player that has potential like Miguel Berry could be significant to push the Crew’s backup forward crop. Even the late picks, Remi Prieur in goal and Danny Griffin have shown flashes to suggest they could push for roster spots.

Draft summary:

  • Miguel Berry (Round 1, #7)
  • Remi Prieur (Round 2, #47)
  • Danny Griffin (Round 2, #49)


FC Dallas

GRADE: A- For a second year in a row, FC Dallas did very well given the parameters they had. Nkosi Burgess is a big center back with good potential that they can park at North Texas SC, and Cal Jennings could end up as a big hit coming off the bench in MLS in 2020. Second-round addition Manuel Ferriol is a talented player that slipped due to his international status and lack of athleticism. He would fit FCD’s style extremely well if he makes the team.

Draft summary:

  • Nkosi Burgess (Round 1, #14)
  • Cal Jennings (Round 1, #17)
  • Manuel Ferriol (Round 2, #40)


D.C. United

GRADE: C+ Taking fliers on a couple of players that will head to Loudoun United, D.C. traded into the first round and picked a 6-feet-9 goalkeeper from Temple, Simon Lefebvre. There were arguably better options on that spot at the time, even if the pick is immaterial for the MLS team. In the second round, they went local and grabbed Josh Fawole, who can start up front in the USL Championship and see what happens in his first season.

Draft summary:

  • Traded No. 17 selection in 2020 Allocation Ranking and $50,000 in potential General Allocation Money based on performance metrics for D.C.'s No. 21 SuperDraft selection for the No. 21 pick in 2020 SuperDraft and No. 21 selection in 2020 Allocation Ranking.
  • Simon Lefebvre (Round 1, #21)
  • Josh Fawole (Round 2, #42)


Houston Dynamo

GRADE: B+ Grabbing Oklahoma native Garrett McLaughlin was a smart pick for the Dynamo. He’s a good, domestic player that adds a front-line attacker with pace. Provided he can cope with what new Houston head coach Tab Ramos demands of him, he could be in line for plenty of minutes this season. Luka Prpa could be a sleeper if he ends up proving the cost, as he battled injuries in 2019 at Marquette.

Draft summary:

  • Garrett McLaughlin (Round 1, #8)
  • Luka Prpa (Round 2, #34)


Los Angeles Football Club

GRADE: B Goalkeeper Paulo Pita was one of the surprising picks of the first round, as he’s a 25-year-old goalkeeper that requires an international spot. However, it shows that the team put in a shift with its scouting, as Pita backstopped Marshall’s stellar 2019 campaign. Jack Hallahan came in the second round, and could be an intriguing upside pick if the team’s able to account for his overseas status as well.

Draft summary:

  • Paulo Pita (Round 1, #24)
  • Jack Hallahan (Round 2, #50)


LA Galaxy

GRADE: C- Perhaps the most surprising pick of the day was not only that the Galaxy selected someone, but also the player it was. Tom Smart is a left back that played sparingly at Akron, after transferring in from New Mexico. It’s a bit of an odd pick, even at that stage.

Draft summary:

  • Tom Smart (Round 2, #45)


Inter Miami CF

GRADE: B+ If it were up to this pundit, Daryl Dike made perhaps a bit more sense at No. 1, given his upside. But there’s a very solid argument to be made that Robbie Robinson is the better pure finisher and soccer player right now, and tracking the two players’ careers will be fascinating. Nabbing Dylan Nealis at No. 3 surely gives them a college player that could see minutes, provided he can defend MLS attackers.

Draft summary:

  • Robbie Robinson (Round 1, #1)
  • Dylan Nealis (Round 1, #3)


Minnesota United FC

GRADE: B+ Working with just one pick, Minnesota snapped up Noah Billingsley, a right back that looks like he could be serviceable in his rookie season for the Loons.

Draft summary:

  • Noah Billingsley (Round 1, #18)


Montreal Impact

GRADE: N/A The Impact ended up making a pick, but shipped Jeremy Kelly off to Colorado. That left them with some allocation money from the first two rounds on Thursday

Draft summary:

  • Traded Jeremy Kelly (Round 1, #9) to Colorado for $75,000 in General Allocation Money


Nashville SC

GRADE: B+ Success in their expansion season will come down to other roster moves. But it’s not bad to bring in a local talent in the second round (Tanner Dieterich) and arguably the best defensive prospect in the draft in Jack Maher. Coming off an excellent season at Wake Forest, Alistair Johnston might be able to see minutes this season. Some considered Elliot Panicco the top goalkeeping prospect in college soccer as well, so it wasn’t a surprise to see him come off the board first.

Draft summary:

  • Traded $75,000 in General Allocation Money to Colorado for No. 11 overall pick
  • Traded $50,000 in General Allocation Money and $50,000 in conditional General Allocation Money to New England for No. 13 overall pick
  • Jack Maher (Round 1, #2)
  • Alistair Johnston (Round 1, #11)
  • Elliot Panicco (Round 1, #13)
  • Tanner Dieterich (Round 2, #28)


New England Revolution

GRADE: A- The New England Revolution II got a number of intriguing players on the day. Henry Kessler might be the closest to being able to contribute in MLS, and then the Revolution did well to nab some allocation money from Nashville. Simon Lekressner offers versatility, and Keegan Meyer was one of the better goalkeepers on the board in the second round.

Draft summary:

  • Traded No. 13 overall pick to Nashville for $50,000 in General Allocation Money and $50,000 in conditional General Allocation Money
  • Henry Kessler (Round 1, #6)
  • Simon Lekressner (Round 2, #30)
  • Keegan Meyer (Round 2, #43)


New York City FC

GRADE: B- Already featuring a glut of central midfielders, it will be interesting to see if Jesus Perez, an attacking center mid, can make the roster. He’s also been on the lookout for a gig overseas as well. But if that doesn’t work out, he’s an asset for NYCFC who will hold his rights or give him a long look.

Draft summary:

  • Jesus Perez (Round 1, #22)
  • Felicien Dumas (Round 2, #48)


New York Red Bulls

GRADE: B- Trading up for Patrick Seagrist didn’t come with a high cost and offers the Red Bulls a backup left back, if he proves he can make an impact at the time. But he could’ve been on the board at No. 15. While all picks are likely to start at Red Bulls II, Cherif Dieye is the name of note, as he showed dynamic traits in a good conference.

Draft summary:

  • Traded $100,000 in General Allocation Money to Chicago for No. 10 overall pick
  • Patrick Seagrist (Round 1, #10)
  • Cherif Dieye (Round 1, #15)
  • Wallis Lapsley (Round 2, #36)
  • Deri Corfe (Round 2, #41)


Orlando City SC

GRADE: A With the first three teams (four picks) passing on Dike, Orlando went for value at No. 5. Bringing in Dike gives Oscar Pareja another forward to work into the rotation, and he can begin his career at Orlando City B.

Draft summary:

  • Daryl Dike (Round 1, #5)
  • Joey DeZart (Round 2, #31)
  • Jonathan Dean (Round 2, #39)
  • Austin Aviza (Round 2, #44)


Philadelphia Union

GRADE: N/A It’s tempting to give Philadelphia and other teams that skipped out on the first two rounds an “A” if things in the youth setup are being put to use. As they did last year, the Union opted to trade out of the first round, sending their pick to D.C. for 50k in allocation money if Simon Lefebvre hits certain performance metrics.

Draft summary:

  • Traded the No. 21 pick in 2020 SuperDraft and No. 21 selection in 2020 Allocation Ranking for the No. 17 selection in 2020 Allocation Ranking and $50,000 in potential General Allocation Money based on performance metrics for D.C.'s No. 21 SuperDraft selection.


Portland Timbers

GRADE: B+ Grabbing arguably the best defensive midfielder in the draft pool, Aaron Molloy’s international status is obviously the one thing holding him back. Perhaps he can buck the trend of later first-round picks failing to stick with the Timbers.

Draft summary:

  • Aaron Molloy (Round 1, #16)


Real Salt Lake

GRADE: A- Both of Real Salt Lake’s picks may not work out in MLS, but Dayonn Harris is an exciting flank player that could end up sneaking onto the MLS roster. Second-round pick Michael Wetungu has the build and physicality to make the leap to the pro level, and if he can refine his game with the Monarchs, a move up the ladder one day wouldn’t be a huge shock.

Draft summary:

  • Dayonn Harris (Round 1, #20)
  • Michael Wetungu (Round 2, #46)


San Jose Earthquakes

GRADE: B- Passing on Cal Jennings seems like a move that might’ve made sense at No. 12, although bringing in Tanner Beason, assuming he is a player that fits a Matias Almeyda system, fits a bigger need. Jon Bell and Jack Skahan, if they work out, would add more depth on the edges as well.

Draft summary:

  • Tanner Beason (Round 1, #12)
  • Jack Skahan (Round 2, #27)
  • Jon Bell (Round 2, #38)


Seattle Sounders

GRADE: B- Without a first-round pick, Seattle’s approach here was always going to be taking guys they thought could work out. Both left back Danny Reynolds and midfielder Timo Mehlich have some quality, but they both require an international spot, which could determine their chances of making the roster.

Draft summary:

  • Danny Reynolds (Round 2, #35)
  • Timo Mehlich (Round 2, #52)


Sporting KC

GRADE: N/A In a 2018 transaction, Sporting Kansas City dealt away a 2020 first-round pick for the rights to Krisztian Nemeth. He scored nine goals in 33 games and was out of contract at the end of the season. A No. 6 overall pick wouldn’t necessarily be a bad piece for Sporting to work with, but at this point it’s water under the bridge.


Toronto FC

GRADE: C+ Another team that leans heavily on the academy to fill out off-budget spots, Toronto’s draft picks are probably ear-marked for Toronto FC II. Achara and Malick Mbaye bring pedigree and intrigue if they can work out. Simon Waever was one of the best right backs in college soccer, but all three come with an international tag, while Nyal Higgins will get his chance in USL League One at the back.

Draft summary:

  • Nyal Higgins (Round 1, #19)
  • Achara (Round 1, #25)
  • Malick Mbaye (Round 2, #33)
  • Simon Waever (Round 2, #51)


Vancouver Whitecaps FC

GRADE: B Sure, perhaps going with Kessler or Dike might’ve made more sense for the Whitecaps. But adding a young, creative, attacking midfielder (who is also Canadian)? Can’t be too mad about that.

Draft summary:

  • Ryan Raposo (Round 1, #4)
  • Daniel Gagliardi (Round 2, #32)