New York City FC went into the SuperDraft with needs, but did the team pick players that could add depth? Here is a look at their first two picks.
New York City FC entered the Major League Soccer SuperDraft with an already talented and solid squad. For the most part, the team has 12 to 14 players they can rotate between to field an excellent starting XI. Therefore, all they required from the SuperDraft was depth, and the draft is an ideal way to obtain such talent. Specifically, NYCFC needs to add depth at the right-back, left-back, and up-front.
However, despite the need, NYCFC drafted midfielder Jesus Perez in the first round. Out of the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he spent three seasons after transferring from Akron, Perez was named the Horizon League Player of the Year the last two seasons and was also a part of the All-Horizon League First Team.
In 2018, he led the NCAA in assists, totaling 12. The Illinois native then finished his collegiate career with six goals and eight assists in the regular season, capping off his brilliant time with the UIC Flames.
Now, it is clear Perez was productive during his college years, but could he make that jump from NCAA Division 1 Soccer to MlS? As seen in the past, it is mighty challenging for college players to make it onto an MLS team. If they do sign, minutes are often scarce.
In fact, according to mlssoccer.com, only 28 of the 76 players selected in the 2019 SuperDraft made an MLS roster. Furthermore, only three players appeared in 20 or more games. Most college players are not properly developed to make the leap to MLS. Plus, NYCFC already have a packed midfield so it would be difficult for a less experienced professional player to find playing time.
Hence, it was a bit shocking that New York City FC went with a midfielder in the first round. But one may never know: Perez could shock everyone and not only sign with NYCFC but be an essential piece to the squad in 2020. After all, signing the most talented players, regardless of position, is often the best approach.
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More aligned to their needs, New York City FC then selected Felicien Dumas in the second round. The defender spent five years with the University of Notre Dame, for whom he red-shirted his freshman year. From 2017 to 2019, he started the majority of games and even started 18 times in 2018 despite wrestling with injuries. He then proved his versatility during his senior year when he was pushed into the midfield. The Fighting Irish graduate is also a set-piece specialist and was notorious in the Atlantic Coast Conference for his freekicks. More importantly, Dumas is a natural left-back and the Pigeons desperately need someone who can back up Ronald Matarrita.
Of course, like Perez, can Dumas make the jump to MLS? For most draft picks, this will be pondered during the preseason. However, since NYCFC need a left-back more than they need a midfielder, Dumas has a higher probability of signing a contract as long as he shows potential. If the defender does sign, New York could still sign an experienced left-back to compete with Matarrita. In this case, Dumas could be sent out on loan to gain minutes, but at present, he has a decent shot of making the squad.
The SuperDraft diminishes in value every year. And yet, every year, there is great value to be found. New York City FC will be hoping they have struck gold with Perez and Dumas, but only time will tell as the preseason unfolds.