Opinion: It’s time to move on from the MLS SuperDraft

13 January 2017: Abu Danladi (UCLA) (GHA) (Generation Adidas) was select
13 January 2017: Abu Danladi (UCLA) (GHA) (Generation Adidas) was select /
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ATLANTA, GA – OCTOBER 22: Miguel Almiron
ATLANTA, GA – OCTOBER 22: Miguel Almiron /

Investing in Young Talent

Along with the increased impact of Home Grown Players, MLS teams have opted for younger, lesser-known players as their targets for Designated Players and acquisitions with Targeted Allocation Money.

Just last season, MLS saw the additions of Miguel Almirón (age 23), Josef Martínez (24), Jefferson Savarino (21), Yangel Herrera (20), Albert Rusnák (23), and Tomás Martínez (22) among others, who quickly established themselves as some of the more promising players in the league.

In the last SuperDraft, the top five picks were in a similar age range, starting with Abu Danladi (age 22), Miles Robinson (20), Jonathan Lewis (20), Jeremy Ebobisse (20) and Lalas Abubakar (23). All of them contributed in reserve roles or were loaned to USL.

The trend of signing promising youngsters has continued into this offseason as more and more clubs are opting to bring in younger players from around the world. Up to this point, Rodrigo Pacheco (age 21), Diego Rossi (19), Jesús Medina (20), Josué Colmán (19), Alejandro Fuenmayor (21) and Andy Polo (23) have all made high-profile moves to MLS, bringing with them professional experience from around the globe.

And they may not be the only ones, as Atlanta United are reportedly negotiating an MLS transfer record for 18-year-old Ezequiel Barco while another MLS team is offering a seven-figure transfer fee for 20-year-old Pablo Aránguiz.

The comparison to marquee transfer targets isn’t fair to the NCAA prospects, but along with the increase in academy graduates and Home Grown Players, it shows that MLS is shifting the focus to signing younger players, which leaves the SuperDraft as the third or fourth option for youth acquisition for MLS. Unlike how the draft is the primary way for youth addition in other American sports.

Next: So what happens next?