SHOCKING Results From The 2023 MLS SuperDraft
From the start of the draft in 1996, college soccer players seeking to play professional soccer entered into the MLS College Draft with hopes of signing an MLS contracts. Over the years, with the introduction and evolution of utilizing foreign talent to produce domestic success, university athletes have seen a drastic decline of MLS first team offers. In this year’s MLS SuperDraft, only four out of the eleven non-Generation-Adidas players, who signed first team MLS contracts, have seen the field for their prospective clubs. That is a total of less than 6% of players drafted who have contributed MLS minutes. What does this mean for future MLS SuperDrafts? Will we soon see the extinction of the draft all together? The numbers do not lie. Are we soon looking at the end of an era that built the MLS from the ground up?
Photo Credit: MLS Minnesota FC
This year’s MLS SuperDraft produced 83 draft picks. Out of these 83 picks, a total of 22 players signed first team contacts. This totals just under 27% of players signed to MLS deals. However, 50% of the 22 players who accepted first team offers were Generation Adidas players. This leaves us with 11 players drafted became official MLS players. With all but 16 players (in the whole draft) signing some sort of professional soccer contract (mostly MLS NextPro & USL), we can see that the MLS SuperDraft is not what it used to be with regards to utilizing university talent to immediately bolster individual MLS team success. In other words, the MLS SuperDraft has started to become a draft for MLS teams to send university talent to their MLS NextPro and USL sides in order to further develop players with hopes of introducing them to first team soccer in the future.
Ultimately, in this year’s draft a total of 23 forwards, 22 midfielders, 29 defenders, and 9 keepers were selected. As can be seen, the positional spread of players drafted is more evenly distributed compared to when the first 10 picks were all center backs like we have seen in previous years. Where will the MLS SuperDraft be in a few years? Will it ever be utilized to draft MLS-ready talent like it used to? I doubt it. With the influence of international soccer players and talent like it used to? I doubt it. With the influence of international soccer players and the development of the MLS NextPro league, we are highly unlikely to see the MLS be used an immediate first team MLS player breeding ground. What was a once dreamed of opportunity that included participating in the MLS Combine and attending draft night seems to be a concept of the past that will likely not reemerge without unforeseen circumstances. My prediction is that we will eventually see an MLS NextPro SuperDraft that will take the place of the MLS SuperDraft in being the format of the future. All in all, there is only one way to find out.
How do you feel about the MLS SuperDraft over the years? Do you expect to see its rebirth, or does the end seem near in its effectiveness toward producing professional MLS players?
Photo Credit: MLS St. Louis FC
About the author/ writer:
Michael J. Hierholzer
Suffolk University Law School J.D. Candidate, 2024
Wilmelsport Intern 2022-23