UCLA's Frankie Amaya Goes No. 1 to FC Cincinnati in 2019 MLS SuperDraft
UCLA's Frankie Amaya made it two Bruins going No. 1 overall in the last three years of the MLS SuperDraft, with expansion side FC Cincinnati taking the central midfielder to kick off the 2019 edition in Chicago on Friday. Amaya followed in Abu Danladi's (2017, Minnesota) footsteps and became the sixth UCLA player to go first overall in the 24 years of the event.
With plenty of top collegiate talent signing with clubs via the Homegrown Player route or heading abroad and teams identifying other young talent on the global market, there seems to be less and less room for SuperDraftees to make their mark–but that doesn't mean it's impossible. One needs to look no further than the last few years, which has seen the likes of Atlanta star Julian Gressel, Portland and U.S. forward Jeremy Ebobisse and Seattle and U.S. midfielder Cristian Roldan fall through the cracks. Teams will surely be hopeful they've uncovered another such diamond in 2019–especially FC Cincinnati. After a series of trades, FCC entered the day with seven picks in the first two rounds, though a further deal recovered some allocation money previously spent and reduced that number of picks to five. Not all teams subscribed to the same philosophy, with the Philadelphia Union and the Chicago Fire trading out of the draft entirely.
This year's draft field included seven Generation Adidas signings–star underclassmen whose salary will not count against a drafting club's budget until they hit a certain playing-time allotment. The 2019 GA class includes: Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair (Maryland); defender John Nelson (North Carolina); midfielders Amaya (UCLA), Tajon Buchanan (Syracuse), Griffin Dorsey (Indiana) and Siad Haji (VCU); and forward JJ Williams (Kentucky). The field otherwise features college seniors or select international players.
Below are the picks for the first two rounds. As has become the norm, the final two rounds will take place over a later conference call, with that occurring on Monday. Here are all the selections from Friday's affair (*denotes Generation Adidas):
1. FC Cincinnati - Frankie Amaya, MF, UCLA*
After days of wheeling and dealing and a pre-pick timeout that made it seem like another deal may be in the works, FCC holds onto the top spot and takes Amaya, the youngest player in the draft at 18 and part of the U.S. U-20 national team that won the Concacaf Championship and qualified for this year's FIFA U-20 World Cup. The box-to-box central midfielder joins the one part of the FCC roster that is full of depth and won't be counted on to contribute from the opening kick.
2. San Jose Earthquakes - Siad Haji, MF, VCU*
Haji, a 19-year-old Somali refugee with U.S. youth experience, had five goals and 10 assists in his junior season at VCU and is adept at finding the final pass from the midfield. He joins Matias Almeyda's new-look squad in San Jose, which has a lot of ground to make up to close the gap with the powers in the Western Conference after a dismal 2018.
3. Orlando City - Santiago Patino, F, FIU
Patino, a center forward, had 27 goals in his last two seasons at Florida International University, and he joins an Orlando City team that finished last in the Eastern Conference and needs reinforcements all over the place. He falls in line with Dom Dwyer, Chris Mueller, Tesho Akindele and Stefano Pinho in the attack. Orlando City reportedly had a Homegrown Player claim on Patino rejected by MLS but gets the forward anyway.
4. FC Dallas (via Colorado Rapids) - Callum Montgomery, D, Charlotte
The first defender goes off the board to FC Dallas, with Montgomery, a 6-foot-2 Canadian center back that has been touted as the most MLS-ready player available in the draft field.
5. Colorado Rapids (via Chicago Fire) - Andre Shinyashiki, F, Denver
A finalist for the Hermann Trophy at the nearby University of Denver, Shinyashiki scored an NCAA-best 28 goals in 21 games in 2018. The Brazilian scored 51 goals in his four seasons in college. Colorado swapped first-round picks and spent $100,000 in allocation money to acquire this selection from the Fire on draft day.
6. Toronto FC - Griffin Dorsey, MF, Indiana*
The IU product and Generation Adidas signing is part of the U.S. U-20 setup and had eight goals and 11 assists in his two seasons in college. A speedy winger, Dorsey joins a Toronto FC attack with the pieces to be among the league's best despite a down 2018 season.
7. Minnesota United - Dayne St. Clair, GK, Maryland*
The first goalkeeper goes of the board, and it's the one who didn't give up a goal in the NCAA tournament in leading Maryland to the 2018 national championship. With Bobby Shuttleworth the only GK on Minnesota's roster, the pick of the U-20 Canadian international fills a need. Minnesota will surely hope St. Clair is able to perform like one of his Maryland goalkeeping predecessors, Zack Steffen.
8. Houston Dynamo - Sam Junqua, D, California
The first surprise of the draft comes from the Dynamo, who take a left back that was not expected to go this high. The 36-year-old DaMarcus Beasley is back for the 2019 season, but he won't be around forever.
9. New England Revolution - Tajon Buchanan, MF, Syracuse*
Buchanan, a Canadian youth international winger, slides to the Revolution at No. 9. He had 12 goals and six assists in his two seasons at Syracuse, and the Revs will hope there's plenty more to build on for the Generation Adidas signing.
10. FC Dallas (via Montreal Impact) - John Nelson, D, North Carolina*
FCD goes to the defensive well again, taking the U.S. youth team and UNC left back after the earlier selection of Montgomery.
11. New England Revolution (via Vancouver Whitecaps) - DeJuan Jones, MF, Michigan State
The Revs make it two speedy wingers on the day, taking the athletic Jones, who helped Michigan State reach the College Cup. It's the second straight year the Revs have made redundant picks in the first round after taking two right backs in 2018. Jones had 16 goals and 14 assists in his college career, with his junior year (seven goals, six assists) his most productive.
12. NYCFC (via LA Galaxy) - Luis Barraza, GK, Marquette
NYCFC traded up from the 19th pick and sent $75,000 of General Allocation Money to the Galaxy for the chance to take Barraza, who joins a group slotting in behind entrenched starter Sean Johnson. The 6-foot-2 New Mexico native was the Big Easts's Goalkeeper of the Year in 2018.
13. FC Cincinnati (via Philadelphia Union) - Logan Gdula, D, Wake Forest
FC Cincinnati uses the second of its seven picks to take Gdula, a forward-surging right back who figures to enter the season behind Alvas Powell on the depth chart.
14. D.C. United - Akeem Ward, D, Creighton
Ward offers versatility at fullback in that he can operate on both sides of the field, and he'll give depth to Ben Olsen's squad at a need area. Paul Arriola was forced into playing right back after a late injury to Oniel Fisher last season, and D.C. doesn't want to find itself in that position again.
15. Minnesota United (via Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas) - Chase Gasper, D, Maryland
Chicago trades out of the first round at the draft it's hosting for $50,000 of allocation money, and Minnesota selects its second member of the NCAA national champions in Gasper, who manned left back for the Terrapins.
16. New York Red Bulls (via FC Cincinnati, LAFC) - Roy Boateng, D, UC-Davis
The Red Bulls traded for this pick and the No. 25 overall pick, sending $100,000 in allocation money to FCC. Boateng is perhaps a replacement for the player the Red Bulls lost to FCC in the MLS expansion draft in Hassan Ndam, while FCC recovers some of the money it previously sent around to acquire more draft picks.
17. Real Salt Lake - Sam Brown, M, Harvard
Brown leaps from the Ivy League to RSL, joining a crowded midfield under Mike Petke.
18. Columbus Crew - JJ Williams, F, Kentucky*
The new Crew braintrust plucks the last Generation Adidas player on the board and lands a center forward that joins Gyasi Zardes, Justin Meram, Federico Higuain and Patrick Mullins in the attack. Williams broke out with an 18-goal, eight-assist season for Kentucky after three goals apiece in his first two seasons in college.
19. LA Galaxy (via NYCFC) - Emil Cuello, MF, SMU
The Mustangs' midfielder was born in Buenos Aires and becomes the first draft pick under Argentine maestro Guillermo Barros Schelotto. He had eight goals and 12 assists in four years at SMU.
20. Seattle Sounders - Tucker Bone, MF, Air Force
There's uncertainty over whether he'll have to depart for required service time or if he'll be granted a waiver, but the Tacoma-born Bone has talent as an attacking midfielder and had a productive college career with 25 goals and 22 assists in four years at Air Force.
21. Sporting Kansas City - Kamar Marriott, D, Florida Gulf Coast
The 6-foot-4 center back wasn't part of the MLS Combine and missed all of 2017 due to injury, but SKC evidently believes it's found someone who fell through the cracks and pads its defensive depth with some uncertainty lingering over Ike Opara's future.
22. New York Red Bulls - Janos Loebe, F, Fordham
The Red Bulls keep it local in taking Loebe, a wide player who joins the multitude of young players within the club's system.
23. Portland Timbers - Ryan Sierakowski, F, Michigan State
Sierakowski is the second Spartan off the board, and he had a productive, consistent college career. Sierakowski scored 33 goals and had 16 assists in his four seasons, with at least seven goals and at least three assists in each campaign.
24. Atlanta United - Anderson Asiedu, M, UCLA
The 2018 MLS Cup champions land the MVP of the MLS Combine, allowing UCLA to bookend the first round with a pair of midfielders. Asiedu, a defensive midfielder, earned a reputation for his tenacity at the Combine.
25. New York Red Bulls (via FC Cincinnati) - Sean Nealis, D, Hofstra
26. San Jose Earthquakes - Sergio Rivas, MF, Seattle
27. Orlando City - Kamal Miller, D, Syracuse
28. Colorado Rapids - Marcello Borges, D, Michigan
29. FC Cincinnati (via Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire) - Tommy McCabe, MF, Notre Dame
30. FC Cincinnati (via Toronto FC) - Jimmy Hague, GK, Michigan State
31. Minnesota United - Hassani Dotson, MF, Oregon State
32. New York Red Bulls (via, Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo) - Rece Buckmaster, D, Indiana
33. Houston Dynamo (via D.C. United, New England Revolution) - Andrew Samuels, D, Maryland
34. Montreal Impact - Amar Sejdic, MF, Maryland
35. Vancouver Whitecaps - Brendan McDonough, D, Georgetown
36. LA Galaxy - Don Tchilao, MF, Oregon State
37. FC Cincinnati (via Philadelphia Union) - Ben Lundt, GK, Akron
38. Orlando City (via D.C. United) - Tommy Madden, MF, Charlotte
39. Toronto FC (via Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas) - Adam Wilson, MF, Louisville
40. LAFC - Peter-Lee Vassell, MF, Harbour View FC
41. Real Salt Lake - Kyle Coffee, F, Washington
42. Colorado Rapids (via Columbus Crew) - Jacob Hauser-Ramsey, D, Connecticut
43. NYCFC - Abdi Mohamed, D, Akron
44. Seattle Sounders - Joel Rydstrand, MF, Creighton
45. Sporting Kansas City - Camden Riley, MF, Pacific
46. San Jose Earthquakes (via New York Red Bulls) - Mamadi Camara, F, Simon Fraser
47. Portland Timbers - Lennart Hein, D, St. Louis
48. Atlanta United - Amir Bashti, F, Stanford