Armchair Analyst: Matt Doyle

Cheat sheet: What all 29 teams need in MLS SuperDraft 2024


Since the 2024 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas is Tuesday (3 pm ET | MLS Season Pass), now’s a good time for us to take a quick look at the state of rosters/depth charts across the league, with an eye toward team needs.

Bear in mind that between the Re-Entry Draft, free agency, trades, etc., things are going to be rapidly changing.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 19
  • Needs: Left back, center back or goalkeeper.

A functional left-footed LB who can soak up minutes behind Caleb Wiley, and maybe even succeed him (they’ll sell Wiley sometime in the next three windows, I bet) would be a home run. All teams are always looking for center backs, so just someone who can make the squad would be great. And goalkeeper depth is a clear need for Atlanta at the moment.

Recent SuperDraft History: They crushed their first-ever draft with Miles Robinson and Julian Gressel, then took Jon Gallagher in 2018, and… haven’t made a significant pick since. It’s been a while.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 5
  • Needs: Fullback, winger, center forward

As of now, Jon Gallagher is the only healthy fullback on the roster. I doubt they’ll find an immediate starter at No. 5, but there’s always interest in converting productive college wingers into MLS fullbacks, so it could happen.

Getting actual MLS-caliber wingers out of college is even more rare. Even after getting Jáder Obrian in the Re-Entry Draft, the position’s a clear need, so it could happen. And as for center forward, a depth piece with potential makes sense here.

Recent SuperDraft History: Crushed it with Dani Pereira No. 1 overall in 2021, but it hasn’t been great since then. Though last year’s first-rounder, winger CJ Fodrey, could still come good.

  • First-Round Pick: N/A – they traded it for last year’s 12th pick, which turned into forward Patrick Agyemang
  • Needs: Top-end talent everywhere

Charlotte have a bunch of good depth and three promising pieces from last year’s draft in Agyemang and two promising center backs (Andrew Privett and No. 1 overall pick Hamady Diop). They’ve also done a nice job of filling out the roster with solid veterans.

What they need is their DPs and high-TAM guys to be better. You don’t get that from the draft.

Recent SuperDraft History: Three good picks last year, and I’m still high on Ben Bender, who they took first in 2022.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 6
  • Needs: Left back depth, goalkeeper depth, center forward

The Fire are in the same boat as Charlotte: they just need their best players to be better, and you don’t get that through the draft.

In terms of succession planning, you have to assume Chris Brady will be sold soon-ish, and as always, getting a left-footed left back who can play is something to be on the lookout for. And yeah, I still think the No. 9 job is wide open for this team, and Duncan McGuire went 6th last year. Boy would the Fire love it if a McGuire-type was sitting there for the taking in this edition…

Recent SuperDraft History: The good news is they drafted Jackson Ragen 31st overall in 2021. The bad news is they didn’t sign him and he’s now a Best XI-caliber starter for the Sounders.

You’ve got to go back to Elliot Collier in 2018 to find a draft pick who stuck around and made a bunch of appearances with this team.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 27
  • Needs: Left wingback depth, center forward depth, right wingback depth

The Supporters’ Shield winners are deep and good, and will remain so even if they sell Álvaro Barreal and Brandon Vazquez this winter. It’s extremely unlikely they will find direct replacements for either here, but it wouldn’t shock me if they just went “best talent available” and got a guy who could make the team.

Recent SuperDraft History: Crushed it in 2022 with Roman Celentano and Ian Murphy.

Colorado Rapids logo
Colorado Rapids
  • First-Round Picks: Nos. 2, 4, 12 & 21
  • Needs: D-mid, goalkeeper depth, center forward depth

It seems like Rapids president Padraig Smith has decided the Draft is a market inefficiency worth exploiting. When you’re as bad as Colorado were this past year 1) you’ve got to kick over every stone, and 2) everybody on the roster is replaceable. So even though you can look at the roster and kind of feel like they’re set at CB, if they decide there’s an upgrade available at No. 2 or 4, they will take that guy.

That goes for winger, attacking midfield, center forward… literally all of it.

Recent SuperDraft History: Moïse Bombito, who they took third overall last year, shows a lot of promise as a ball-playing center back.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 29
  • Needs: More toys for Wilfried Nancy

I have no idea what they’ll do here, but given Nancy’s penchant for developing players, it wouldn’t shock me if whoever they take with the last pick of the first round 1) makes the team and 2) becomes a starter down the road.

If there is one spot I think they’d focus on it’d be right wingback, which looks a little thin. But I’m sure it’ll just be a “most interesting prospect” pick.

Recent SuperDraft History: Getting Patrick Schulte 12th in 2022 obviously was a steal. A couple of other first-rounders from the past two years are still on the roster and could be in line for minutes next year.

D.C. United logo
D.C. United
  • First-Round Pick: No. 7
  • Needs: Center back, fullback, forward

D.C. United, with new GM and CSO Ally Mackay in town, are undergoing what looks like a pretty comprehensive overhaul, and boy could they use a contributor here with the No. 7 pick. It almost doesn’t matter what spot, though. As of now, I’d consider center back a fairly glaring need, and center back is one of the spots that the SuperDraft reliably produces, so…

Recent SuperDraft History: You have to go back to 2017 to find a draft pick who had any kind of notable career with D.C.

FC Dallas logo
FC Dallas
  • First-Round Pick: No. 15
  • Needs: Center back, center forward, defensive midfield

Dallas are officially thin at center back, and while I’d expect some new signings and maybe a promotion of one of their North Texas MLS NEXT Pro guys, this is nonetheless a clear area of need.

The same goes for defensive midfield, where getting a rangy, two-way player to cover for Asier Illarramendi or Paxton Pomykal makes sense to me. Same with getting a true target forward for late-game kitchen sink situations.

Recent SuperDraft History: They took Nkosi Tafari 14th in 2020 and by 2023 he was one of the best CBs in MLS. Other recent first-rounders include Tsiki Ntsabeleng and Isaiah Parker, each of whom could play real minutes this coming year. But the bulk of Dallas’ roster building will still come from within.

Houston Dynamo FC logo
Houston Dynamo FC
  • First-Round Pick: No. 26
  • Needs: Defensive midfield depth, attacking left back, target No. 9

The Dynamo are deep and good, and anyone picked here will be up against it just trying to make the roster. Picking for “this guy could do a job for us in the second half of 2025” is going to be the play here.

Recent SuperDraft History: Their first-round picks from 2021 & ‘22, CB Ethan Bartlow and forward Thor Úlfarsson, have turned into useful rotation pieces.

Can’t wait to watch Úlfarsson in the Concacaf Champions Cup. He’s made for those environments.

  • First-Round Pick: N/A – they traded it to Colorado for Michael Barrios.
  • Needs: Goalkeeper, left back, center back

The Galaxy have a ton of work to do on this team – I’m not sure there’s a trophy-caliber starter anywhere outside of central midfield, though obviously there’s a lot of young talent in need of development on that backline.

The place to focus on, though, is goalkeeper. There are always a couple of good, future pros in the SuperDraft, and the Galaxy’s starting job should honestly be up for grabs with how Jonathan Bond has performed.

Recent SuperDraft History: The last time the Galaxy hit on a draft pick was Hector Jimenez in 2011. Seriously.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 28
  • Needs: Left-footed left back, target No. 9, d-mid depth

Super unlikely anyone taken here will play a single meaningful minute in 2024.

Recent SuperDraft History: Haven’t made a meaningful pick since taking João Moutinho and Tristan Blackmon first and third overall ahead of their debut season in 2018.

Inter Miami CF logo
Inter Miami CF
  • First-Round Picks: Nos. 3 & 24
  • Needs: Athletes who are willing to run

Miami’s roster is loaded with good MLS veterans, high-upside young kids, and legends of the game who are among the greatest players to have ever kicked a soccer ball.

There is no clear area of need, so just look for the best available option irrespective of position.

Recent SuperDraft History: None of their picks has ever really panned out, which includes 2020 No. 1 overall selection Robbie Robinson.

Minnesota United FC logo
Minnesota United FC
  • First-Round Pick: No. 9
  • Needs: Left back, center back depth, d-mid depth

Minnesota have a few star attackers and then a lot of potentially solid – but clearly upgradeable – players scattered around the rest of the lineup. Left back is the most obvious spot they could improve, though, as with every team that misses the playoffs, nothing is truly off the table.

It’ll be interesting to see how new sporting director and CSO Khaled El-Ahmad, who played college soccer himself, will approach the Draft. (Your guess is as good as mine).

Recent SuperDraft History: Dayne St. Clair and Hassani Dotson both came out of the 2019 draft. Hasn’t been much since then, though.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 10
  • Needs: Center back, goalkeeper depth, d-mid depth

Montréal have moved to add a veteran right wingback (Ruan) and a veteran left wingback (Raheem Edwards) in recent days, which were the two clearest areas of need. I think the focus now changes to center back, which is a little thin.

Recent SuperDraft History: Nothing to speak of. I would be surprised if they kept this pick – bet they trade out.

Nashville SC logo
Nashville SC
  • First-Round Pick: No. 17
  • Needs: Right back depth, central midfield depth, target No. 9 depth

Nashville’s going to go shopping this offseason, clearly. But there’s a good chance for whoever they take here to stick around based upon the need for cheap, playable depth. In particular, if there’s a good, right-footed crosser of the ball, that’s a guy who’d make sense for this team.

Recent SuperDraft History: Nashville had an excellent debut draft, picking Jack Maher, Alistair Johnston and Elliot Panicco in 2020. But that’s pretty much been it.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 20
  • Needs: Center back depth, fullback depth, goalkeeper depth

Injuries decimated the backline, which – along with front office dysfunction – cut the team’s legs out in the middle of the season, knocking them out of the Supporters’ Shield race and making them Round One cannon fodder.

The big moves they need will be made elsewhere. The goal here will be to find someone (preferably a defender) who can play real minutes in case the injury bug hits again.

Recent SuperDraft History: Back in 2021, when they set the single-season points record, all four of their backline starters – Andrew Farrell and Henry Kessler at center back; DeJuan Jones at left back and Brandon Bye on the right – had come through the draft.

New York Red Bulls logo
New York Red Bulls
  • First-Round Pick: No. 14
  • Needs: Center back, central midfield depth, left back depth

Multiple members of the RBNY front office have promised an increase in spending this offseason, so don’t expect them to try to squeeze an upgrade over an existing starter from a mid-first-round pick. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they found a contributor here, especially at center back since the depth chart right now is paper thin.

Recent SuperDraft History: They got Brian White in 2018 and Sean Nealis in 2019, but not much to speak of since then.

New York City FC logo
New York City FC
  • First-Round Pick: No. 8
  • Needs: Center back depth, target No. 9, central midfield depth

NYCFC’s front office spent all season slooooooowly building the roster piece-by-piece and paid for their procrastination by missing the playoffs for the first time since their debut year in 2015, but I will say by the end of the year, I quite liked what they’d put together. And quite obviously any upgrades they make will come via the transfer market, not the Draft.

That said, there’s room for a top-10 pick to make the roster or even crack the rotation at a couple of spots.

Recent SuperDraft History: 2022 second-rounder Kevin O’Toole has worked himself into a nice rotation piece, and might even win the starting left back job this year.

Orlando City SC logo
Orlando City SC
  • First-Round Pick: No. 25
  • Needs: Center back depth, attacking midfield depth, left back depth

Orlando have done well on both the international transfer market and in the draft, and because of that, they are a team with virtually zero roster holes. Whoever’s picked here is going to learn the game in MLS NEXT Pro.

Recent SuperDraft History: Hit it out of the park with Duncan McGuire at No. 6 in 2023, and Daryl Dike at No. 5 three years before that. They’ve also got a few other recent picks developing via NEXT Pro minutes.

Philadelphia Union logo
Philadelphia Union
  • First-Round Pick: N/A – they traded it (and other stuff) for Damion Lowe
  • Needs: Goalkeeper depth, left back, center back depth

Sporting director Ernst Tanner famously does not rate the draft – weird for a guy whose team starts Andre Blake and Jack Elliott, I think – so whatever the Union need they won’t be looking for here.

The one possible exception is if they spot a goalkeeper they like. But even that’s a long shot.

Recent SuperDraft History: PASS!!!

Elliott was the most recent significant pick. The Union got him 77th overall in 2017. Since then, they’ve mostly traded or just outright passed.

Portland Timbers logo
Portland Timbers
  • First-Round Pick: No. 11
  • Needs: Fullback depth, goalkeeper depth, central midfield depth

The Timbers have a solid XI as it stands, though there are obviously a few more big moves to come this offseason. Even if those moves are delayed until the summer, don’t expect whoever’s picked here to have much of an impact. Soaking up depth minutes for a year or two before being moved along is about the best-case scenario.

Recent SuperDraft History: Starting center back Zac McGraw came through the SuperDraft, as did old friends Jeremy Ebobisse and Darlington Nagbe. Otherwise, they've had guys like Justin Rasmussen and Noel Caliskan earning depth minutes.

Real Salt Lake logo
Real Salt Lake
  • First-Round Picks: Nos. 16 & 18
  • Needs: Not much!

Between a productive academy and an aggressive past three transfer windows, RSL have a roster with no glaring weaknesses that can be addressed through the draft.

Recent SuperDraft History: A bunch of picks from recent years are on the roster and have played real minutes, most notably German midfielder/fullback Jasper Löffelsend, who was snagged 81st overall in 2022.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 13
  • Needs: Left back, center forward, defensive midfield

There’s already been a mini-exodus this offseason, and there could be more to come – Cade Cowell, Benji Kikanovic and Jeremy Ebobisse have all had European interest to one degree or another over the past 18 months.

So some surgery is going to be required and it wouldn’t be too shocking to see some of the answers come through the draft.

Recent SuperDraft History: Tanner Beason and Jack Skahan, both picked in 2020, have been useful rotation players.

  • First-Round Pick: No. 23
  • Needs: Center back, attacking left back, target No. 9

Seattle didn’t draft Jackson Ragen, but he did come through the draft and earn his way into the XI after a year in Tacoma, so they should understand the potential of college center backs. Note this is only a need if they trade/sell Xavier Arreaga, and since there are about 20 teams that could use Arreaga (and the Sounders could use the GAM and cap flexibility), I’m assuming that gets done.

Recent SuperDraft History: They got Alex Roldan at the tail end of the first round in 2018. Same for Cristian in 2015.

Sporting Kansas City logo
Sporting Kansas City
  • First-Round Pick: No. 22
  • Needs: Goalkeeper depth, left back depth, target No. 9

Once upon a time, Peter Vermes built a borderline dynasty through the draft – Matt Besler, Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza, Chance Myers, C.J. Sapong, Dom Dwyer… seriously, what a run of picks! – but those days are long gone. Sporting KC as constructed aren’t a dynasty now, though they’re very good, and it’s unlikely whoever gets tabbed here will have much of an impact.

Recent SuperDraft History: You have to go back almost a decade, to 2015, to find the last draft pick who left a mark.

  • First-Round Pick: N/A – they traded it for left back Anthony Markanich
  • Needs: Nothing, really

St. Louis aren’t going to find what they truly need – upgrades at d-mid and on the wing/wide midfield – in the draft. Trading the first-rounder for Markanich, who instantly looked like a rotation-caliber MLS left back, was very good work.

Recent SuperDraft History: They traded out of the top spot overall last year for allocation cash, and none of their subsequent selections made a first-team appearance.

Toronto FC logo
Toronto FC
  • First-Round Pick: No. 1
  • Needs: Center forward, center back, left back, right back, d-mid

TFC have already spent a lot of money, chances are this offseason they will spend a lot more, and it’s just not clear that they have more than a handful of starting-caliber MLS players at this point in their respective careers (and yes, I’m including the Italian DP duo in that assessment; they were awful last year).

They’ve got to get one here. It almost doesn’t matter at what spot – this team needs a productive, cost-controlled player who can help ease the disastrous cap issues.

Recent SuperDraft History: Luka Gavran, who they took in the second round in 2022, was one of the only pleasant surprises of 2023 for this team, as he was solid in his minutes in goal.

Other than that, the last six years have all been wasted picks or guys they cut bait on who went on to develop elsewhere (or place-kickers for the Dallas Cowboys).

Vancouver Whitecaps FC logo
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
  • First-Round Pick: N/A – traded it and GAM for the rights to Sergio Córdova. Oops!
  • Needs: Depth

The ‘Caps have done so well with their intra-league trades and other draft picks that burning this year’s first-rounder for a DP they immediately got rid of didn’t even dent their success. As it stands, they are a team whose only real need is depth.

I do think they’re one of the teams that’s most likely to trade into the top 10 for no other reason than the fact they always seem to find a way to squeeze production from their picks.

Recent SuperDraft History: Last year’s first-rounders, J.C. Ngando and Levonte Johnston, both made the roster and played a few minutes, as did 2022 first-rounder Simon Becher, as did 2021 first-rounder Javain Brown, as did 2020 first-rounder Ryan Raposo.