MLS SuperDraft 2019: Day one winners and losers

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 11: Callum Montgomery poses for a photo with MLS commissioner Don Garber after being selected as the number four overall pick to FC Dallas in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft on January 11, 2019, at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 11: Callum Montgomery poses for a photo with MLS commissioner Don Garber after being selected as the number four overall pick to FC Dallas in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft on January 11, 2019, at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

With the first two rounds of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft finished, it’s time to take a look at the first day and try to make a guess at who won the first half.

So the 2019 MLS SuperDraft has begun! While the important rounds took place on Friday, there’s still more to come; so a complete recap will be coming sometime after Rounds three and four are completed.

Those will be held through a conference call on Monday, January 4th. But there’s still a lot that we can talk about and, while I won’t recap the entire first two rounds, there are a few teams’ drafts that I found really interesting, either because I liked what they did or I didn’t like what they did.

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So here are the winners and losers of the first two rounds of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft:

Winner: Philadelphia Union

It’s a big power move to trade your entire draft, and Philly not only did it, but they did it in style. Only getting $150k in General Allocation Money, their reasoning was solid. Philly GM Ernst Tanner explained in a call that he just did not see the kind of quality worth taking at the 13th pick and he really wanted to focus on developing younger academy players than taking on college graduates. This is a big deal for the future of MLS and the MLS SuperDraft, which I heard rumors today about being possibly done away with soon. This is a conversation for another article, but I think that Philly made the right decision, not just because of what Tanner said, but because the team didn’t really need too much help from the draft this year.

Loser: Chicago Fire

On the other side of this idea of trading away your entire draft, Chicago Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez waited until the day of the draft to trade them all. The difference between the two teams is that Philly has a full roster, while the Fire currently do not physically have enough players to field a team. While Philly has stated a commitment to their academy, the Chicago Fire recently missed out on multiple possible homegrown players (Andrew Gutman, Ryan Sierakowski, and Cam Lindley last year). While the Fire received the same amount of General Allocation Money for two picks as Philly did for their whole draft (The Fire traded the 5th overall pick to Colorado for $100k in GAM and the 15th pick, then traded the15th pick to Minnesota for $50k in GAM), Chicago had the 5th overall pick and had a position to pick up much-needed depth for an incomplete back-line. Their second-round pick was traded to the New York Red Bulls for ‘the rights to a player to be named later’, so complete judgement of this day may need to be reserved for a bit. For right now though, it doesn’t look good.

Winner: FC Dallas

When I looked at FC Dallas coming into this draft, I was expecting them to focus on trying to find a central midfielder to replace VictorUlloa and Kellyn Acosta. To my surprise, Dallas was actually the most defensive-minded team in the draft with two great early picks in the first round. A big surprise to me was Callum Montgomery slipping past both record-breakingly bad defenses in San Jose and Orlando. So when FC Dallas picked him up at 4th in the draft, they’d already gotten extremely lucky to take one of the few game-changers in the draft at such a low position (yes, 4th is a low position when it comes to this guy). Then at the 10th pick, they grabbed the Generation Adidas left-back John Nelson. Nelson may not exactly be starting quality, but his GA contract gives Dallas flexibility if they want to look outside of MLS for their new holding midfielder.

Loser: Houston Dynamo

Their first-round pick was Sam Junqua. Sam Junqua is a full-back out of the University of California-Berkeley who, unlike a lot of his peers at the MLS Combine, had not received any awards or honors in his final year of college. His performance at the Combine itself was uneventful. Why Houston is taking him at the 8th pick in the draft just absolutely boggles my mind. Their second-round pick is slightly better, as it reflects the player’s quality a bit better. Andrew Samuels is another full-back who is of average quality for this draft.

Winner: New England Revolution

It seems like the best teams in this draft took both of their picks in the first round. With the 9th and 11th picks overall, the New England Revolution selected Tajon Buchanan and DeJuan Jones respectively. Both players are hard-running wingers that will tire out defenders and Buchanan is a Generation Adidas player. Not exactly a position of need for the Revs, in my opinion, but they are still great picks and I’m amazed that Buchanan dropped that far for them. I think that they have a chance to develop into something special if given the right environment. If all goes right for New England, they will be lining up as two sides to a deadly attack.

Loser: New York City FC

Much like the Houston Dynamo, I just don’t know why this pick was made. Taking Luis Barraza with the 12th pick overall when you already have a great goalkeeper in Sean Johnson just seems like a team who’s unsure what they want to do. I didn’t even consider Barraza the best goalkeeper on the board at that time either. That would be Ben Lundt, who would get taken in the second round by FC Cincinnati. Speaking of the second round, I have no complaints about NYC’s pick at 43rd overall with Abdi Mohammed. He’s a solid full-back, but the day is kind of ruined for me by that real head-scratcher in the first.

Winner: Atlanta United

For being the final pick in each round, Atlanta had an amazing day. At 24th and 48th overall, they picked up a couple of steals in Anderson Aseidu and Amir Bashti respectively. Both performed really well in the combine, but I like Bashti best. He’s a hard runner on the wing and looks like he could develop into a good depth piece for them. Aseidu is a holding midfielder, which is a spot where Atlanta’s a little old. Overall, this is a lot of talent that I don’t think they were expecting to fall to them in their draft position.

I Don’t Know Yet: Sporting Kansas City

So, here’s a pick that I know absolutely nothing about and that I don’t think anyone was expecting: Kamar Marriott going 21st overall. I don’t know if this was their mini-protest at the draft or if they genuinely found this guy and decided to say nothing about him until draft day. I checked around the Florida Gulf Coast website a bit and found nothing to suggest him being a first-round talent. Then again, there are many first rounders this year that may not have been first rounders in other years. This is just a really hard pick to judge before I see him in action. That’s why Sporting Kansas City aren’t quite losers, just ‘I don’t know yet’. This is especially heightened when their second-round pick was actually really solid, taking Camden Riley out of the University of the Pacific. An all around central midfielder; you could honestly flip these two picks and I’d believe this more.

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So there’s some of my takes on the first day of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. Be sure to check back in a few days when we’ll wrap up the rest of the draft.