CHICAGO — FC Cincinnati is set to make a splash in its first Major League Soccer SuperDraft with 10 picks, including three picks in the first round.
The first two rounds of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft begin at 1 p.m. ET Friday at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. Rounds three and four take place via conference call on Monday.
The league’s 24 teams will take turns selecting from a mix of eligible college graduates and seven generation adidas players, underclassmen already offered contracts by the league. Each team gets four minutes to make a decision and there are five minutes between each round. Additionally, each team gets one four-minute timeout, if needed while on the clock.
Midfielder Frankie Amaya (UCLA) and winger Siad Haji (Virginia Commonwealth University) are projected by many to battle for the No. 1 overall pick. FC Cincinnati may go a different direction, however, and select Syracuse winger Tajon Buchanan instead, according to MLSsoccer.com.
The 2018 NCAA MAC Hermann trophy winner, Andrew Gutman, will likely not be in the 2019 SuperDraft after being heavily linked to Scottish Premier League side Celtic, according to a report from The Athletic.
Following Cincinnati in the draft order are teams that missed out on the MLS playoffs in 2018, and then all other clubs in opposite order of their finishing place. Cincinnati has the first, 13th and 16th picks in the first round.
Cincinnati received the five extra picks from Philadelphia Union in exchange for $200,ooo in target allocation money. The trade displayed two schools of thought when it comes to the SuperDraft. Philadelphia trading all of its picks reinforced a widespread feeling that the SuperDraft’s value is decreasing as the academy system continues to grow in the United States.
“When evaluating how we want to build our roster for the 2019 season and beyond, we decided that acquiring this money is the best use of our SuperDraft resources,” Union sporting director Ernst Tanner said in a club statement after the move. “Not only will we look to continue both signing Union Academy products for the first team and [United Soccer League side] Bethlehem Steel FC, as well as attracting young talent from abroad, we believe that this sum of money will help us complete crucial signings ahead of the upcoming campaign.”
Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s surplus of picks represents the idea that college players can develop into difference-makers for MLS teams. A prime example of the diamond in the SuperDraft rough was Atlanta United’s versatile midfielder and 2017 draft pick Julian Gressel, who came to America from Germany for a chance at a career in soccer after four years at Providence college. He was one of the most valuable players on the Five Stripes’ 2018 championship roster.
FC Cincinnati enters MLS in 2019 after finishing with the best regular-season USL record in 2018. The expansion side will focus on bolstering a roster primarily made up of players from its USL squad days mixed with the MLS experience of former Timbers forward Fanendo Adi and veteran defender Greg Garza, acquired in a trade with Atlanta.
“I don’t think the list has changed, but the list is starting to shrink,” FC Cincinnati coach Alan Koch said in a club statement ahead of the draft. “We’re starting to explore players that we’re really interested in. We’re starting to move on from players that we might not be interested in. In terms of final lists, we’re not there yet, but we don’t have to be at that stage just yet.”
How will tomorrow play out?
1 – FC Cincinnati
2 – San Jose Earthquakes
3 – Orlando City SC
4 – FC Dallas (trade from Colorado Rapids)
5 – Chicago Fire
6 – Toronto FC
7 – Minnesota United FC
8 – Houston Dynamo
9 – New England Revolution
10 – FC Dallas (trade from Montreal Impact)
11 – New England Revolution (trade from Vancouver Whitecaps)
12 – LA Galaxy
13 – FC Cincinnati (trade from Philadelphia Union)
14 – D.C. United
15 – Colorado Rapids (trade from FC Dallas)
16 – FC Cincinnati (trade from Los Angeles FC)
17 – Real Salt Lake
18 – Columbus Crew SC
19 – New York City FC
20 – Seattle Sounders FC
21 – Sporting Kansas City
22 – New York Red Bulls
23 – Portland Timbers
24 – Atlanta United FC
25 – FC Cincinnati
26 – San Jose Earthquakes
27 – Orlando City SC
28 – Colorado Rapids
29 – FC Cincinnati (trade from Philadelphia who acquired from Chicago Fire)
30 – FC Cincinnati (trade from Toronto FC)
31 – Minnesota United FC
32 – Chicago Fire (trade from Houston Dynamo)
33 – New England Revolution
34- Montreal Impact
35 – Vancouver Whitecaps FC
36 – LA Galaxy
37 – FC Cincinnati (trade from Philadelphia Union)
38 – Orlando City SC (trade from D.C. United)
39 – Toronto FC (trade from Colorado Rapids who acquired from FC Dallas)
40 – Los Angeles FC
41 – Real Salt Lake
42 – Colorado Rapids (trade from Columbus Crew)
43 – New York City FC
44 – Seattle Sounders FC
45 – Sporting Kansas City
46 – San Jose Earthquakes (trade from New York Red Bulls)
47 – Portland Timbers
48 – Atlanta United FC
Rounds 3 and 4 will take place over conference call in the following days.