While the traditional college draft may not have the cachet in soccer that it does in a sport like football or basketball, it can nonetheless be an important tool in building an MLS roster. Nashville SC has the No. 2 overall pick in the draft – and picking at the top of the first round is important in picking up one in the scarce supply of potential impact players.
What should fans expect today?
How to watch
There’s no televised event, though MLSSoccer.com and ESPN will stream portions of the action – with look-ins to the front-office war rooms around the league, and in the case of Nashville SC, at the home of the No. 2 overall pick with a busload of fans.
The action begins at 11:30 a.m. CST, and you can watch here:
Today’s action shouldn’t take long, probably an hour and a half total (if that).
Each team gets three minutes to make its pick. Those picks are made via conference call – no ballroom-style event this year, for the first time – and announced via the stream above.
The order was determined by last season’s finishes for each team, with Miami and Nashville drafting their draft positions back in October. Miami chose the first pick (and then traded to acquire the third, as well), and NSC will have the second selection in each round.
Today’s action encompasses only the first two rounds (rounds three and four take place Monday with an even less formal conference call), so barring any trades, you’re looking for the Boys in Gold to make that second overall selection, and just one more about halfway through the event.
Who are the top prospects?
You can see the full list of 140 eligible draftees here, but particularly with the first pick, you can expect General Manager Mike Jacobs to select a player from the Generation Adidas class (for reasons I’ve pointed out before), unless he evaluates a graduating senior to simply be at a level that’s so far above any of the departing underclassmen.
That means you’re looking for someone from the following pool:
- Virginia sophomore striker Darryl Dike
- Virginia junior centerback Henry Kessler
- Indiana sophomore centerback Jack Maher
- Syracuse sophomore winger Ryan Raposo
- Clemson junior forward Robbie Robinson
We do have information – a busload of NSC supporters headed to that player’s home for the event – that indicates the player has to come from a 12-hour round-trip radius of Nashville.
That eliminates all but Maher (Bloomington and his hometown in the Saint Louis suburbs are both in range) and Robinson (Clemson is within the range, his hometown of Columbia, S.C. is not), barring some unknown family moves for some of these guys. Given Nashville’s needs – and throwing into the mix that I’m not particularly high on Robinson as a fit for Nashville anyway – Maher seems to be the most likely choice.
Travis Clark of TopDrawer Soccer projects Nashville to land Maher, while SBI Soccer has not just a mock draft, but a big board and much more draft-related content. (For what it’s worth, their second round has Nashville taking a former NSC player: Clemson midfielder Tanner Dieterich, who played for the U-23 team in its lone year in the PDL. You may recall I pointed him out last Friday as an option, too).
What to expect
Stay tuned here; I’ll have plenty of content on Nashville’s draft picks to come, including analysis of the fit within the team.