Philadelphia, Pa. – After retired MLS legend Landon Donovan announced, “Orlando you are officially on the clock,” the expansion Lions SC did what most expected and selected UConn forward Cyle Larin with the first pick of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.
Orlando have long been locked in on Larin, who is in Jamaica with the Canadian U20 National Team, and they confirmed that by resisting trade interest from the league’s Canadian clubs.
Up next Orlando’s fellow expansion team, New York FC, veered from the alleged script, first by taking a five minute time out, sparking trade rumors, and then when they kept the pick, but did not choose University of Washington midfielder Cristian Roldan.
Instead the Manchester City affiliated side selected Oregon State forward Khiry Shelton, precipitating a slide all the way to number 16 for Roldan, where Real Salt Lake traded the pick to Seattle, who snapped up the midfielder.
Seattle coach Sigi Schmidt sounded very happy to have the University of Washington midfielder fall into his lap. Schmid and his staff had the opportunity to see Roldan play often, and even had him in for training sessions with the Sounders, where they were clearly impressed.
The coach agrees that Roldan is versatile, but singled out his passing ability when he spoke to the press after selecting the midfielder. “I think,” said Schmid, “with Dempsey and Oba – they want good passers around them.” Anyone that watched Seattle come up short versus MLS Cup winning L.A. Galaxy saw what the coach saw. If Martins and Dempsey didn’t set each other up, no one else in Rave Green was capable of feeding the Sounders dynamic duo.
Is Roldan capable of providing at that level? We’ll have to wait and see, but Schmid certainly thinks highly of his new player.
As for Shelton, the speedy young striker was as thrilled as he was surprised to land with the New York City newboys. “I had no idea,” Shelton told GotSoccer when we asked if he was aware of NYC FC’s interest. Shelton “has paid very close attention,” to NYC’s build up, and added, “I just can’t tell you how ready I am to to get started.”
When we asked the young striker if he looked forward to playing alongside City’s legendary Spanish striker David Villa, Shelton’s joy was palpable. “Oh yeah,” Shelton said with a wide smile. “Everybody there is going to be great, all the players are going to be great, and I’m just excited. I’m ready,” Shelton concluded, “I’m ready.”
Also ready in the SuperDraft’s first round? Toronto FC. The Canadian side picked three times in the opening round, plucking Syracuse goalkeeper, and Generation adidas prospect Alex Bono with the number six pick, North Carolina State defender Clement Simonin at number nine, and defender Skylar Thomas, a college teammate of Bono’s, two picks later.
Bono was unable to attend, he is with Jurgen Klinsmann and company at the U.S. MNT January camp.
New York Red Bulls made a splash late in the first round when they selected Hermann Trophy winner Leo Stolz with the 18th pick. The German born Stolz did not attend the just completed MLS Combine, instead traveling to his native Germany, where he hoped to secure a professional contract.
Despite the risk of ending up empty handed, New York took a chance on Stolz, and if things don’t work out in Europe, the Red Bulls may have landed a solid player with that 18th selection.
May have, being the key phrase in the Stolz pick, and indeed in all the days picks. A look back at the number one picks in each MLS SuperDraft since 1996 shows just how inexact a science the player procurement can be.
Columbus did well to snare national team legend Brian McBride in that inaugural talent auction, but since then only Maurice Edu, selected by Toronto in 2007 has approached stardom. And Edu spent most of his prime years playing in Europe.
With that in mind, it is quite possible that the final pick of the day, Dan Metzger had it right when he said, “they saved the best for last.” The University Maryland defensive midfielder drew laughs for his remark, but looking back at former number ones like Leo Cullen, Miami Fusion, Steve Shak, NY/NJ MetroStars, etc, etc. you realize that Metzger could well be right.
Metzger never expected to fall so far, and he says the snubs, “give me a lot of motivation going into pre-season.” Metzger added, “to be honest I’m happy, it gives me that extra motivation, that edge, to show everybody wrong.”
DC United coach Ben Olsen, “was very surprised when he dropped, but I’m sure he’ll use it as motivation, and hopefully he can make the team.”
And in the end that is what it is all about. How many of these first and second rounders will make the team, much less make an impact? 2013 number one Andrew Farrell (New England) has been solid, but before that we have to go back to 2009 and Chance Myers (Kansas City) to find a player selected with the very first pick in the draft that has been an unassailable success. It is too soon to judge recent picks like last year’s number one Andre Blake (Philadelphia), so who knows?
Is Metzger right, or will Larin be a breakout star? We will simply have to wait and see.
2015 MLS SuperDraft, Round 1
|1. Orlando City SC||Cyle Larin, F||Connecticut|
|2. New York City FC||Khiry Shelton, F||Oregon State|
|3. Montreal Impact||Romario Williams, F||Central Florida|
|4. San Jose Earthquakes||Fatai Alashe, M||Michigan State|
|5. Portland Timbers (from COL)||Nick Besler, M||Notre Dame|
|6. Toronto FC (from CHV)||Alex Bono, GK||Syracuse|
|7. Chicago Fire||Matt Polster, D||SIU-Edwardsville|
|8. Houston Dynamo||Zach Steinberger, M||Butler|
|9. Toronto FC||Clement Simonin, D||NC State|
|10. Sporting Kansas City (from PHI)||Conor Hallisey, M||California|
|11. Toronto FC (from POR)||Skylar Thomas, D||Syracuse|
|12. Sporting Kansas City||Saad Abdul-Salaam, D||Akron|
|13. Vancouver Whitecaps||Tim Parker, D||St. John’s|
|14. Colorado Rapids (from CLB)*||Axel Sjoberg, D||Marquette|
|15. FC Dallas||Otis Earle, D||UC Riverside|
|16. Seattle Sounders FC (from RSL)*||Cristian Roldan, M||Washington|
|17. D.C. United||Miguel Aguilar, F||San Francisco|
|18. New York Red Bulls||Leo Stolz, M||UCLA|
|19. Columbus Crew SC (from COL/SEA)*||Sergio Campbell, D||Connecticut|
|20. Sporting Kansas City (from NE)||Amadou Dia, M||Clemson|
|21. LA Galaxy||Ignacio Maganto, F||Iona|
2015 MLS SuperDraft, Round 2
|1. Orlando City SC||Conor Donovan, D||NC State|
|2. New York City FC||Connor Brandt, M||San Diego|
|3. Portland Timbers (from MTL)||Andy Thoma, D||Washington|
|4. Orlando City SC (from SJ)||Akeil Barrett, F||Tulsa|
|5. Colorado Rapids||Joseph Greenspan, D||Navy|
|6. Real Salt Lake (from SEA/CHV)*||Boyd Okwuonu, D||North Carolina|
|7. Chicago Fire||Kingsley Bryce, F||Saint Louis|
|8. Toronto FC (from HOU)||Wesley Charpie, D||South Florida|
|9. Houston Dynamo (from SKC/TOR)*||Oumar Ballo, D||UMBC|
|10. Philadelphia Union||Dzenan Catic, F||Davenport|
|11. Portland Timbers||Christian Volesky, F||SIU-Edwardsville|
|12. Seattle Sounders FC (from NE/SKC)*||Tyler Miller, GK||Northwestern|
|13. Portland Timbers (from VAN)||Kharlton Belmar, F||VCU|
|14. Columbus Crew SC||Sagi Lev-Ari, F||CSU Northridge|
|15. Houston Dynamo (from DAL)||Rob Lovejoy, M||North Carolina|
|16. Toronto FC (from RSL)||Edwin Rivas, F||CSU Northridge|
|17. Vancouver Whitecaps (from DC)||Kay Banjo, F||UMBC|
|18. New York Red Bulls||Stefano Bonomo, F||California|
|19. Seattle Sounders FC||Oniel Fisher, M||New Mexico|
|20. Philadelphia Union (from NE)||Eric Bird, M||Virginia|
|21. D.C. United (from LA)||Dan Metzger, M||Maryland|