MLS is legal this year, and as the league turns 21 it takes its first major step as an adult Friday afternoon in Baltimore when it holds its annual SuperDraft.
There seems no immediate chance of that happening but one need only look at the recent glut of Homegrown player signings around the league to detect the diminishing importance of the SuperDraft in building an MLS roster.
The New York Red Bulls alone signed six newcomers to Homegrown deals this offseason, leaving no roster space available on the first team, likely consigning any selections the team makes in Baltimore to USL side Red Bulls II, at best.
With the league attempting to beef up the Academy system this would appear to be the beginning of a trend, even if we are not there yet.
With all of that to consider there are still good players to be found in the SuperDraft and a quick look at the results from 2015 will attest the SuperDraft is not dead yet.
This time last year Orlando scooped the cream right off the top when it selected University of Connecticut forward Cyle Larin. Larin would go on to run away with the 2015 Rookie Of the Year award while setting an MLS goalscoring record for a first-year man with 17.
Enjoy him while you can MLS fans, Larin’s name has already popped up in transfer rumors and if the Canadian international can continue to develop he may not be long for central Florida.
But if Larin was clearly the best of the Class of 2015, he was far from the only impact player selected. In fact, four members of that group were invited to the U.S. MNT January camp, with places in the U.S. U23 team for a do or die Olympic Qualifying double-header vs. Colombia in the balance.
Khiry Shelton(NY), Matt Polster(Chicago), Tim Parker(Vancouver), and Fatai Alashe(SJ) are all on the radar for the March showdown, although Alashe left camp with an injury.
Former Stanford fullback Brandon Vincent who was called into the January camp as an injury replacement is expected to be a high draft pick on Thursday, so there is talent to be had.
Georgetown defender Joshua Yaro has long been the consensus number one with the Chicago Fire holding the first pick. There are however some who question whether Yaro is big enough to play in the middle of the defense, with fullback an alternate spot for the Ghana-born, California raised Yaro.
New Chicago coach Veljko Paunovic is keeping his cards close, as expected, but with the top pick he can select Yaro for either defense spot, or Paunovic could opt to trade talented defender.
With trades always a possibility here is the current draft order.
4.New York City FC
5.Real Salt Lake
8.San Jose Earthquakes
10.New England Revolution
11.Sporting Kansas City
12. Los Angeles Galaxy
13. DC United
14. Montreal Impact
15. Seattle Sounders
16. Vancouver Whitecaps
17. FC Dallas
18. New York Red Bulls
19. Columbus Crew
20. Portland Timbers
The Generation adidas class includes seven players at the moment, led by Yaro, Clemson goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell, and a trio of midfielders Jack Harrison (Wake Forest), Richie Laryea (Akron), and Julian Buescher (Syracuse), forward Fabian Herbers (Creighton) and winger/forward Omar Holness (North Carolina), already a full Jamaican international.
Interestingly Tarbell is the lone American-born player among the GA class.
Vincent is expected to be among the first few players taken on Friday and MLS would still like to bring UCLA forward Abu Danladi into the fold via a GA contract.
And what about MAC Hermann Trophy winner Jordan Morris? Morris has finally decided to go pro after leading Stanford to this year’s College Cup Championship and is weighing overseas interest against a reported league record Homegrown offer from the Seattle Sounders.
Morris is training with, and impressing Bundesliga club Werder Bremen and is scheduled to join the U.S. MNT January camp when he returns from Germany.
So even if Morris does end up in MLS, it won’t be through the SuperDraft.