What is the future of the college player for the MLS Draft????
The 2020 MLS SuperDraft gave 77 draft picks their chance to get a contract offer in MLS. A majority of those players entered training camp with the clubs who selected them, but not all have signed an MLS contract to gain a roster spot, and in turn, playing time. Since an MLS deal is the major goal of draft picks following their selection, the burning question is: What are the chances of signing an MLS deal? With the 2020 season just getting underway, there is little data to pass judgment on this year’s draft class. Therefore, to provide a clearer prospectus, let’s look back at the 2019 SuperDraft.
In 2019, 75 players were drafted by MLS clubs but just 30 signed an MLS contract. In the first round, 18 out of 24 drafted players signed an MLS contract in 2019. Just 10 of those first round selections started a game in the MLS in 2019, and only 4 managed to start more than 10 games. It is noteworthy however that only 50% first round selections made at least one appearance during the 2019 season. Of the 24 players selected in the second round, just 10 signed an MLS contract. However, 8 second round selections started at least one game, and 2 (Kamal Miller, Orlando City and Hassani Dotson, Minnesota) started more than 10 games. 8 second-rounders made at least one appearance throughout the year. Only two players selected in the third round signed an MLS deal, but both made at least one appearance. No fourth round selections signed an MLS contract.
Fast forward to March 17, 2020, (and while we wait Coronus Virus suspension) and just 22 of the players signed from the 2019 SuperDraft remain on MLS rosters. No players from last year's draft that went unsigned have moved to an MLS club.
The importance of the draft to MLS clubs looking for young “college” talent has dramatically changed since the league’s first season 25 years ago. Such a small number of draft picks signing an MLS contract and even fewer appearing in an MLS contest suggests the draft is no longer the primary means for building a roster. Even if that’s true, the most important factor for rookie success is signing an MLS contract, giving the player a chance to maintain a roster spot and earn playing time throughout the season.
Michael A. Tarro, Jr. Suffolk University Law School, J.D. Candidate, 2021