By Jamie Dawe
The MLS SuperDraft is seen as the best place to pick up young talent for MLS clubs, with players who are normally in their early 20s moving from college soccer up into the professional ranks.
Whereas most teams see the SuperDraft as an opportunity to invest in the future, some of the picks made on Thursday afternoon will be ready to start on Sunday, March 6th 2016 – the day the 21st MLS season kicks off. This article is dedicated to those who will have a real shot at a starting place on the opening day of the 2016 season.
Jack Harrison (NYCFC)
The Bolton-born Manchester United academy product was chosen by Chicago Fire as the No.1 pick in this year’s SuperDraft but was almost instantly traded 800 miles east to NYCFC, who were desperate for his services.
Harrison will have to compete with Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, Mix Diskerud, Tommy McNamara, Kwadwo Poku and others for a starting spot – but the 19 year old has the ability to prove himself over preseason and subsequently earn a place in Patrick Vieira’s side alongside legends of the game such as David Villa and Pirlo. He may have to settle for a wide role – with Poku on the other side and Lampard in behind Villa.
Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire)
When the Fire drafted Vincent at No.4, the question was raised: With Joevin Jones as the clear starting left-back amongst the Chicago ranks, would Vincent get game time? Could he even be traded? We soon found out the answer to these questions as later on in the Draft, it was revealed that Jones had been traded to Seattle in exchange for the No.15 pick and some general allocation money. This is a clear indicator that Vincent will start from day one with the Fire and that he will be the key man on the left side of defence for the MLS’s worst team of 2015.
Jonathan Campbell (Chicago Fire)
This is more of a bold decision, suggesting that Chicago may start two rookies in defence on Matchday 1. However, their defence in the 2015 season was the equal worst in the league and it’s possibly a risk worth taking for head coach Veljko Paunovic. Chicago currently only have two other defenders on their roster in Eric Gehrig and homegrown player Patrick Doody. This will certainly change by the time we reach the start of the season, but with Doody set to be used more as a backup, the likelihood is there will be a starting berth waiting for Campbell to stamp his name on.
Joshua Yaro or Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union)
Once again, the Union find themselves in a place where they have to rebuild. Maurice Edu is going nowhere in the backline of the Philadelphia defence, but the other three spots are anyone’s guess.
Signing Georgetown duo Yaro and Rosenberry was a smart move as they have signed a partnership which has been bossing college soccer for the past year. However, Yaro’s future might not be at centre-back, which is where he played for most of his college career. There were questions about him being converted into a full-back or a defensive midfielder and the latter would make the most sense as Rosenberry is a already established as a right-back.
It’s tough to see both of these players starting on March 7th, purely because the Union are unlikely to want to take the gamble of playing two rookies in their backline on Matchday 1. They might have decided to convert Yaro into a different position, but that process could possibly take until April or May and so seeing both Yaro and Rosenberry in the Union starting XI for the trip to FC Dallas is unlikely. Though one of them should get the nod.
Are there any SuperDraft picks that you think will start on Matchday 1?