Once used as a fair and even way for college players to be spread to rosters, the MLS Draft is far from what it used to be.
Draft, noun.Definition 9c. sports: a system whereby exclusive rights to selected new players are apportioned among professional teams; “He was chosen in the first round of the draft.” – (Merriam-Webster, 2018)
The MLS SuperDraft, like many other professional drafts used in the American sports landscape, is a mechanism created to help distribute the best college soccer players among professional teams in a way that encourages parody. Typically, new teams and teams who performed poorly in the previous season will pick first, while the better performing clubs pick later on. This process is repeated for various rounds and in many leagues, the draft is the primary way in which teams add younger and new players to their roster who have yet to play in their league.
Drafts are nothing new to sports fans in the US. However, in Major League Soccer, things work a little differently. When the SuperDraft was first introduced in 2000, it acted very much like the drafts of other professional sports in being the primary way for teams to add young American or foreign players who had yet to play in MLS.
Now in 2018, Major League Soccer acquires players in ways more similar to other professional clubs playing The World’s Game, which has left the SuperDraft as more of a tradition than anything else.
For the most part, players taken in the SuperDraft find their time in MLS to be short-lived, if they even see time at all. Academy prospects and homegrown players are exempt from having to go through the draft process, which typically means MLS teams already have a pipeline of young players being funneled to their club. With the growth and changes that have come to MLS over recent seasons, it’s time for the league to move on from the SuperDraft altogether.