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Oh, yeah! The 2020 MLS Draft is coming

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SOCCER: JAN 08 MLS - Giovanni Savarese Press Conference

With all the talk of transfers, trades, and targeted allocation money going around, one might be forgiven for forgetting the most august of MLS traditions: the Superdraft.

This Thursday at 9:30 a.m., the teams of Major League Soccer will gather virtually to distribute the creme of the college soccer-player crop amongst themselves — and the Portland Timbers will be taking part. This year the Timbers have the No. 16 pick in the Superdraft, a position earned by being good enough to make the post-season but not good enough to avoid immediately washing out of it back in October.

Of course, the Timbers also have picks No. 68 and No. 94 in the draft as well, but gave up pick No. 42 as a part of the trade that netted the club the homegrown rights to Eryk Williamson back in January of last year.

As MLS has grown over the years and player development has become a more integral part of the league, the Superdraft has become increasingly ponderous, giving teams a chance to take a flier on a player they might not have otherwise considered but only rarely netting a player who might contribute immediately at the MLS level. Players like Jack Elliott — taken No. 77 by the Philadelphia Union in 2017 and now a mainstay for his side — are the exception rather than the rule.

Still, getting good value from every avenue is required to compete in MLS. So, with that in mind, let us take a look at who some of the people who actually remembered the draft is this week thought the Timbers might take with their No. 16 pick.

MLSSoccer.com: Jack Skahan — RW, North Carolina

A productive wide player in college, the folks at the mothership seem skeptical that any college player would get a chance with the Timbers, so why not take this guy?

SBISoccer.com: Nebojsa Popovic — Striker, Michigan

No reasoning given. The Timbers are outside the top ten, so who knows?

TopDrawerSoccer.com: Jeremy Kelly — M/D, North Carolina

The folks at Top Drawer also doubt that the Timbers would give a draftee time with the first team, but at least Kelly’s versatility — he can play in the center of the midfield or across the back line — seems to give some hope that he could not play a multiple positions.

Really, any draftee is going to struggle to crack the Timbers lineup. And if they do breeze into the game day 18, let alone the starting XI, something has gone rather wrong.

But this is America, damn it.

The dream may be under constant assault by the very institutions meant to protect it, but we all, deep down, want to see the little guy make it.

Most of the fun of these draftees is the vain hope that they will crack the lineup and become the next Hassani Dotson or Dom Badji. Rooting for them while they play with the assortment of youngsters at T2, overvaluing their precious few minutes of play during the U.S. Open Cup, and guiltily hoping that they make the most of their substitute appearance forced by injuries and suspensions to more familiar faces makes it all the better when someone does manage to break through.

So keep an eye out on Thursday. Even if only to see Bright Dike’s little brother get taken by one of the expansion teams.