It’s a recurring theme in Major League Soccer. As the league and its franchises evolve, the SuperDraft becomes less and less attractive. With teams getting the financial health to make international additions and the ability to sign Homegrown Players developed from their own academies, college soccer is not an appealing path anymore.
The 2019 edition of the SuperDraft is set to happen this Friday at 1:00pm in Chicago and Columbus Crew SC holds the 18th pick in the first round, the portion of the draft in which most of its scarce talent will be available. While the club’s positioning places most of the top talents out of the Black & Gold’s range, there could still be some value to the selections available.
While difference makers should not be expected, the team can still fill some roster spots with the pick and add depth to some positions, as it did with defender Lalas Abubakar in 2017 and midfielder Luis Argudo last season.
Crew’s president Tim Bezbatchenko, head coach Caleb Porter and interim general manager Pat Onstad were all in Orlando for the MLS Combine, evaluating the options and they will be the ones to make the selections.
Here are three positions the Crew could boost in Chicago.
Time will come when Harrison Afful, currently at 32 years old, will need to rest his legs during the regular season. It wasn’t the case in 2018, when he played 32 matches, and even though Hector Jimenez has proven to be a more than capable replacement, to have him as the only backup for both Afful and Milton Valenzuela could be risky. Connor Maloney, the other right back on the roster, has played in just three MLS matches so far.
A good bet here is Abdi Mohamed, a right back from Akron, a program Porter knows really well and is obviously connected to, but it’s possible he gets selected earlier. Creighton’s Akeen Ward, who can play on both sides of the field, and Chase Gasper, a left back from Maryland, could be available at this point though.
The starting lineup seems to be set with Artur and captain Wil Trapp occupying the spots to start the season for the third straight time. They are, however, the only options to the position and even though the club has been in discussions to bring back Ricardo Clark, it would be nice to have another body available to go with the veteran.
University of the Pacific’s Camden Riley, who can also play at center back, seems to be a good option as he bases his game on his passing ability. Wake Forest’s Brad Dunwell, who has the same playing style, and Seattle’s Sergio Rivas, who is more of an attack-minded midfielder, could be options as well.
Gyasi Zardes is not going anywhere and will start his second season as the Crew’s center forward. Patrick Mullins had showed to be a decent option behind the U.S. National Team player, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a third alternative behind him, one that Porter could start developing for years to come.
Michigan State’s Ryan Sierakowski has circulated around the 18th pick in some mock drafts and would be a decent pickup if available. Brazilian native Andre Shinyashiki of Denver and Florida International’s Santiago Patino, if he goes this far, should also be looked at.
We will find out on Friday who the Crew adds to the roster with the first two rounds of the SuperDraft.