Thursday afternoon Orlando City will take part in their second MLS SuperDraft. Based on their 2015 season finish, the Lions will select seventh in the first round. It’s a position that could gain the young team a solid piece for the future.
As soccer continues to grow in America and MLS continues to gain prominence, so does the depth of the SuperDraft. In the early years of the league it was tough to find top talent in the draft, but as the league has matured, later picks are often talented players that can make an immediate impact. So let’s take a look at some of the players that have been selected with the seventh overall selection.
In 2004 the Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) selected Clarence Goodson out of the University of Maryland. The defender would make 74 league appearances for the club in four years before moving to Norway to begin his European career. Goodson also had an impact for the United States national team. In the process of making 46 appearances for the red, white, and blue, the tall center back took part in three CONCACAF Gold Cups and two FIFA World Cups.
Since 2008, nearly every seventh selection in the SuperDraft has produced a player that played a significant role for their club. That started in 2008 with the selection of midfielder Patrick Nyarko by the Chicago Fire. Jack McInerney was selected in 2010 by the Philadelphia Union, Nick DeLeon in 2012 by D.C. United, and Walker Zimmerman in 2013 by FC Dallas.
Four of those five players were signed to Generation Adidas contracts going into the draft meaning they were considered some of the college soccer’s top prospects. The only player not signed to a Generation Adidas contract, DeLeon, was still projected as a first round pick. But even if the Lions don’t select a highly projected player, the may still find an impactful one.
In 2015 the Fire stunned onlookers when they selected Matt Polster out of SIU Edwardsville. Polster had played with the Fire’s PDL team in 2014 which caught the attention of their staff. An impressive performance at the MLS Player Combine convinced them to select him with a top-10 pick. Polster took part in 30 games for the Fire in 2015 starting 27 and was in the race for Rookie of the Year.
In 2015, the Lions had the luxury of the number one overall pick which allowed them to select Canadian international Cyle Larin, the top prospect of that class. The club’s selection in 2016 won’t be as easy, but with seven Generation Adidas players available they will have an opportunity to select a player considered one of the top prospects in the 2016 class.
Whichever way Orlando City decides to go, recent history shows that the Lions will be able to find talent that can produce immediately with the seventh selection of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.