Jack Maher was last year’s SuperDraft headliner. Courtesy Indiana University
The 2021 edition of the MLS SuperDraft will be far less consequential than last year’s go-round for Nashville SC, but it’s exciting nonetheless to see who potential future Boys in Gold are. There are 176 eligible players in the three-round draft. From League release:
NEW YORK (January 14, 2021) – Major League Soccer today announced the list of 176 players eligible for selection in MLS SuperDraft 2021 presented by adidas. Among the top prospects are the three highly touted underclassmen making up the Generation adidas class: sophomore forward Calvin Harris (Wake Forest) and sophomore midfielders Philip Mayaka (Clemson) and Daniel Pereira (Virginia Tech).
Here’s the list, in a slightly cleaned-up form. Nashville has the No. 20 overall pick in the first round, No. 74 overall in the third round, and No. 86 overall as a supplemental pick thanks to the elimination of round four. That’s right: NSC can pick Mr. Irrelevant.
Last year, NSC selected Jack Maher with the No. 2 overall pick, traded up to get Alistair Johnston at No. 11 (he had some top-5 grades – in hindsight, we probably should not have been quite as surprised about his rookie success), and traded up to get Elliot Panicco No. 13. Second-round pick Tanner Dieterich and fourth-round pick Luke Haakenson spent the 2020 season on-loan in USL League One and Championship respectively, while third-round pick Shak Adams left the club before signing and played with Phoenix Rising last season. Haakenson will return to the club in ’21 after having his contract option exercised.
As you can see… Nashville’s three expected major contributors from a year ago came from picks much higher than their first selection will be this year. The expectation is that anyone the club selects will be more of a depth piece (or on a Dieterich/Haakenson trajectory with a loan to earn a spot in MLS the following year), rather than a potential impact player or a guy who’s seen as a surefire long-term piece. With the majority of last year’s core remaining, that set of immediate needs (or lack thereof) is only further underscored.