2021 MLS Superdraft Preview

The Superdraft is coming up on 1/21 so I expect one of the STF writers will be writing up a lengthy preview. I hope so, because I don't know enough about the prospects to have a good sense of what the options are. I have done a tiny bit of digging though, because I couldn't wait. I see us having the following positions of need: right back depth, left back depth, central defender/center back depth, a MF replacement for Flores, and possibly a winger.

As we have young players at right and left fullback and no veteran depth at either position right now, we may look elsewhere to fill at least one of those spots. The rumor that we may be picking up Josecarlos van Rankin seems to have legs and would give us relatively young and experienced depth on the right. We still need at least one more fullback option that can play left or both sides. As hyped as Bravo is, we still want some competition there, a substitute, or a back up plan, if not all of the above rolled into one. Matt Di Rosa and Josh Drack seem like the best picks in the draft if we want to go young. I feel we should keep in mind that we won't have T2 to provide minutes for youth prospects in 2021, so we may not want to bring in a young player who will struggle to find minutes. Seems cruel to me at least. I'd like to see someone in their late 20s or early 30s who still has gas in the tank, is reliable, hungry, but has reasonable expectations. Once again, I'm lamenting the loss of Zarek. It also seems like, with Farfan's departure, the FO may understand that other young prospects might feel similarly stymied by the signing of Bravo.

At centerback, there's a rumor that we were scouting someone in Cameroon. The FO said they intended to bring in a young CB they could develop in the system. I haven't seen any names attached to this rumor. In the draft class, I think we should go for Ethan Bartlow. I assume he's a Sounders fan because he's from the Seattle area but he played for Washington with Blake Bodily and they seem to be buds, his twitter fits our culture, and he's Generation Adidas, so he'd be a bargain. We've got the 8th pick so it could happen (See, there can be an upside to getting this from LA for Villafaña). My other suggestion is Justin Malou because he can play right fullback as well.

I can't really see is bringing in a draft pick to replace Flores. The point of him was to be inexpensive and reliable in possession. Bodily just signed a first team contract at left wing so another youth prospect there seems slightly superfluous, though one can question what we've seen of him so far. As long as Asprilla and Polo are on the roster, we're a bit stacked with deadweight as far as outside attacking mids are concerned but Asprilla at least isn't a spring chicken anymore. I still hope we somehow move one or both of them. While Loría had a down year, I think he's still got an upside and I love his hustle and physicality. I also haven't investigated midfield prospects much. Philip Mayaka and Daniel Pereira are getting a lot of attention but it seems like they will go early.

We are already overflowing at GK and I half-expect Attinella to be moved. We just signed a new young keeper and Ivacic isn't especially old either, so I doubt we'll be shopping for that position.

We have some short-term issues at forward with Niezgoda out for some, most, or maybe even all of the season recovering from his knee injury. There are rumors that Ebobisse may go abroad in the summer window and he may get a USMNT call up for the Olympics. Unless we know he's leaving, it doesn't make sense to bring in a new young gun. Mora is young as well. What we really need is someone who can help us in CCL and USOC through the early part of the season until Niezgoda returns. We aren't getting that in the draft.

It is worth considering whether we may want to replace one or both of Zambrano and Paredes. Paredes is in a slump but we've seen enough quality from him in the past and he's young enough that I think he's just got a mental problem that is fixable. I'm happy to give him more time. Zambrano seems a reasonable enough stand-in for Flores that I'd just assume keep him around. He didn't get many minutes but I don't remember him frustrating me when I did see him. I'm actually pleasantly surprised to see him doing fairly well in a different role, as he was more of a central attacking midfielder when he played for T2 and has had more of a defensive role with the first team. That said, he may be reasonably interchangeable with a high quality draft pick. I don't know if anyone of the right calibur will be available with our second or third picks and again, we don't have T2 to park anyone in 2021.

Speaking of T2, my further investigations have identified only a few players who are still nominally on the roster:

Forwards Giovanni (Gio) Calixtro, left midfielder Jorge Gonzalez, right midfielder Marcus Epps, goalkeeper Jake Leeker, centerback Futty!, right-back Harold Hanson, left-back Niko de Vera, and central midfielders Ken Krolicki and Aaron Molloy. I don't know what the likelihood of signing of these players would be. If we were going to pick up a right back in the draft, that rules out Harold Hanson, especially with Bonilla only being 21 himself. Niko de Vera is 24, the wrong age to match up against newly-signed Claudio Bravo. Probably safe to say we've seen the last of Hanson and de Vera. Gonzalez is made redundant by Bodily. Calixtro is an academy prospect so we could sign him to a Homegrown Player contract, I would think, which might make more sense than picking up a forward in the draft. Again, signing a forward only makes sense under certain conditions but at least as GA he wouldn't be a substantial cap hit, not like he's a great expense anyway. Epps is 26. I haven't really seen him play but I met him once and he seems like a good egg. I might take him over Asprilla until October or November but he doesn't really fit a first-team need, particularly with the aforementioned Polo and Loría also providing depth at right wing. Krolicki could fill the Flores hole but, again, doesn't really fit the description of a reliable substitute who is good in possession and I wouldn't expect much upside from him at 24. Not old enough to be the steady veteran or young enough to be a prospect. Zambrano has the role he might take. I'm slightly higher on Aaron Molloy but that's just reputation and pedigree. I don't think I've seen him play. He's also 24 so there are the same caveats about his timing with respect to potential and experience.

TL/DR: I don't think we'll be going to the remaining T2 players to fill any of our first team gaps.

Someone who knows more about the draft prospects and/or T2 will hopefully offer more.

This FanPost was written by a Stumptown Footy community member and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the site or its staff.