The MLS 2019 Annual SuperDraft Coverage
The 2019 MLS SuperDraft kicked off at 1:00 p.m. ET with promising college players stepping into the spotlight for the first time of their professional career. Some of the top college programs in the country saw their players take the stage for a moment of celebration. UCLA, University of North Carolina, University of Maryland, University of Indiana and the University of Virginia lead the NCAA in players sent to the professional ranks.
MLS Soccer News: As the 2019 expansion team, FC Cincinnati held the first overall selection in today’s 2019 MLS SuperDraft. The following 11 selections in the draft were by teams that did not qualify for the Audi MLS 2018 Cup Playoffs.
The week before the draft, the MLS hosted the 2019 Combine in Orlando with approximately 70 of our country’s top prospects in attendance. The college standouts competed in a five-day evaluation where MLS coaches could watch and carefully select potential players that best fit their squad.
As Don Garber says, “The next chapter of your life starts today.”
The 17th MLS SuperDraft is the annual player draft that has taken place every year since the league launched in 1996.
Is this the last year for the SuperDraft and the Combine?
Only time will tell, but the general feeling is that the MLS Academy program is so strong at developing homegrown talent, why should the MLS teams be saddled with college-age players who are unfamiliar with their style?
There is a record high number of players in this year’s draft.
Below is the list of players selected during Round 1.
1st Pick: Frankie Amaya – Midfielder – UCLA (FC Cincinnati)
2nd Pick: Siad Haji – Midfielder – VCU (San Jose Earthquakes)
3rd Pick: Santiago Patiño – Forward – FIU (Orlando City SC)
4th Pick: Callum Montgomery – Defender – UNC (FC Dallas)
5th Pick: Andre Shinyashiki – Forward – Denver (Colorado Rapids)
6th Pick: Griffin Dorsey – Midfielder – Indiana (Toronto FC)
7th Pick: Dayne St. Clair – Goalkeeper – Maryland (Minnesota United FC)
8th Pick: Sam Junqua – Defender – California (Houston Dynamo)
9th Pick: Tajon Buchanan – Midfielder – Syracuse (New England Revolution)
10th Pick: John Nelson – Defender – UNC (FC Dallas)
11th Pick: DeJuan Jones – Midfielder – Michigan State (New England Revolution)
12th Pick: Luis Barraza – Goalkeeper – Marquette (New York City FC)
13th Pick: Logan Gdula- Defender – Wake Forest (FC Cincinnati)
14th Pick: Akeem Ward – Defender – Creighton (DC United)
15th Pick: Chase Gasper – Defender – Maryland (Minnesota United FC)
16th Pick: Roy Boateng – Defender – UC Davis (New York Red Bulls)
17th Pick: Sam Brown – Midfielder – Harvard (Real Salt Lake)
18th Pick: JJ Williams – Forward – Kentucky (Columbus Crew)
19th Pick: Emil Cuello – Midfielder – Southern Methodist Uni. (LA Galaxy)
20th Pick: Tucker Bone – Midfielder – Air Force (Seattle Sounders)
21st Pick: Kamar Marriott – Defender – Florida Gulf Coast (Sporting Kansas City)
22nd Pick: Janos Loebe – Forward – Fordham (New York Red Bulls)
23rd Pick: Ryan Sierakowski – Forward – Michigan State (Portland Timbers)
24th Pick: Anderson Asiedu – Midfielder – UCLA (Atlanta United FC)
“I’ve dreamt it all since I was young,” said Frankie Amaya, selected 1st by FC Cincinnati. “I never really believed in talent. I’ve worked hard my whole life. That’s what got me to this point. Without this hard work, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. Nobody in this room would know who I am. I want to thank FC Cincinnati for believing in me and taking a chance. I want to thank MLS, Generation adidas and everybody for making all this happen. I also want to thank four teams. Santa Ana FC. That was my whole childhood. That’s where I grew up. I want to thank everybody at Pateadores.”
“The staff, coaches and teammates. I also want to thank everybody at UCLA. My teammates and coaches, even though I only spent one year there. I had a blast. That shaped me as a person and as a player. The last team that I want to thank is the U.S. Men’s National Team. All the coaches and teammates I had over the years. That’s where I think I got pushed the hardest. That’s what made me the player I am.”
When asked his thoughts on being picked by Cincinnati, Amaya complimented the staff at the club.
“I really like the coaching staff, and I really felt at home,” said Amaya. “I can’t wait to get started with them.”
Diane Scavuzzo of SoccerToday asked Amaya whether joining a new team was an advantage. He responded by highlighting the challenge of solidifying a permanent roster spot.
“Yea, you are going to see new players,” said Amaya. “New starting line-ups every game. Nothing is for sure. I am going to keep on working for my spot.”
“I am out of words,” said Siad Haji, selected 2nd by the San Jose Earthquakes. “I am just excited for this opportunity and ready to work hard. I wanted to become a pro when I first got called to the national team. I realized I was good at this. I made sure to keep pushing and to work hard because I’m destined for great things.”
“I am ready for the new city, and I am ready to work hard,” said Haji.
“Right now it’s a really good feeling,” said Santiago Patiño, selected 3rd by Orlando City SC. “Everything I worked for is happening right now, smooth and fast. I am happy. I wanted to be a professional since I was a kid. I saw my dad and uncles play professional soccer. Every time I would go to the city and see them play – I saw myself playing on the field. My family’s soccer background has helped me a lot. Helped me to learn from the game. They helped me when I had questions and told me that it is a process. Work hard, do things right and you will get where you want to be.
“I am from Orlando, and I can’t wait to be there,” said Patino.
“I think stepping up to the MLS you are going to play faster, stronger players,” said Callum Montgomery, selected 4th by FC Dallas. “But I think it’s going to be a learning experience. I can’t wait to get into preseason to meet my teammates and to start contributing. For me, it’s just going to be about showing up every day to training. What can I do to work hard? What can I do to get better? There is a great coaching staff as well as older professionals that I can learn from. I don’t think it is possible for me to be in a better situation.”
“After having a year with the team, we knew the styles and positions that we wanted,” said Brad Friedel, New England Revolution head coach. “It was also good to be in contact with the players so you know which ones will be able to do it on the big stage -mentally and physically. Moving from the college game to professional is a big jump. There is no certainty for everyone. But hopefully, we have done our homework and they will be successful. Last year, not many people gave us any credit for our draft picks, and Brandon Bye ended up playing 24 games for us. As far as draftees, he played the most minutes out of anyone. Hopefully, we have picked two of those this year, but we will have to wait and see.”
Scavuzzo asked Friedel whether the assimilation process differs for academy players and those drafted from college. He responded by highlighting the mentality of the player as a key component during the transition.
“I think a lot of that depends on the player,” said Friedel. “The attitude, mentality and of course the quality of the player. How easy it is for them to adapt once they get to the professional game. Some players will be able to adapt really quickly and others it takes a little bit of time. I think both scenarios throw up their own obstacles. I don’t think there is one quicker pathway than the other.”
“I want the players to enjoy playing the game,” said Friedel. “I don’t want them thinking about all the off-field scenarios and contracts. Just enjoy playing. As long as you are willing to get better and adapt to situations then you can always improve.”