With the 2019 MLS SuperDraft just two days away, coaches and general managers are building out draft boards, examining scouting reports and finalizing their strategies for a busy draft day. Each team has different priorities in the draft and views its importance to roster building differently. Minnesota has been one of the more active clubs in the draft since joining the league, relying heavily on it to acquire young players. The club has found lots of talent, especially in the opening round.
Ahead of their inaugural season, the Loons benefitted from the Expansion Priority to claim the first overall pick in the 2017 SuperDraft, selecting Abu Danladi from UCLA. He turned into a fantastic pick for MNUFC in its first year, benefitting from a lot of playing time due to the short bench at the forward position. Danladi lead the team with four game-winning goals, netting eight in all that season, which helped him become a finalist for Rookie of the Year.
With the success of its 2017 first round pick, the sporting operations staff were active on draft day the following year as well. Coming into the day with the fifth pick, the Loons struck a deal to trade their spot to Chicago for the 15th pick, $175k in Allocation and goalkeeper Matt Lampson. Shortly after, the Loons jumped back up near the top end of the draft board, getting the seventh pick from Montreal for Allocation Money. This allowed them to pick up forward Mason Toye from Indiana and defender Wyatt Omsberg of Dartmouth.
Minnesota was not finished with its deal making in the opening round. As the final picks in the first round were being made, Toronto agreed to trade its 23rd overall selection to the Loons for a second-round pick and some TAM, which allowed MNUFC to pick up Carter Manley from Duke.
All three players made an impact for the Loons last season, as injuries and a busy schedule tested the depth of the roster. Toye provided energy late in games to create space for his teammates and stretch out tired opposing defenses. Omsberg and Manley were regular features in the defensive line, especially during the international windows, with the latter filling in as a versatile outside back.
With the success of the Loons’ first round selections in the past two years, there may be some more movement on the draft board to pick up some young talent in 2019. These new additions will have one advantage over previous MNUFC draft picks: access to regular minutes through a USL affiliate.
All three of the class of 2018 players went on loan to various USL clubs last year, but it was difficult to bring in and send out players regularly to get playing time. Now with the Forward Madison partnership, rookies will be able to get more game experience and hone their skills as they work their way into the first team rotation.
Friday’s SuperDraft will be an eventful day on the road to the 2019 season and MNUFC has plenty of options for its seventh and 31st overall picks. With the hopes of continuing the past successes, and new ways to utilize the new additions, the sporting operations staff will take a crucial step to forming the roster as the team heads into its new home at Allianz Field.