What started as a Jack Harrison selection and looking forward to the 33rd overall pick turned into Brandon Vincent, Jonathan Campbell, Alex Morrell, a whole bunch of allocation money and the departure of Joevin Jones.
You could say things escalated quickly.
The Chicago Fire kicked off the 2016 MLS SuperDraft with a modest surprise when it was announced the club selected Wake Forest midfielder and former Manchester United Academy product Jack Harrison. But it did not take long to realize there may have been a plan in place from the beginning as Harrison was held back from doing the traditional media scrum after his name was announced.
New York City FC, which reportedly was enamored with Harrison, lied in wait with the fourth overall pick. When national team call-up and Stanford left back Brandon Vincent surprisingly fell to NYCFC at No. 4, the Fire made the deal both teams wanted. Chicago got the talented defender it sought and presumably a whole bunch of allocation money while New York received its prized midfielder.
While that seemed like a bold move, the Fire was just warming up. General Manager Nelson Rodriguez made an even bolder move, trading Joevin Jones to Seattle for even more allocation money and the No. 15 overall pick. Unsatisfied with that, the Fire flipped the 15th pick with Colorado's 12th pick by allowing Colorado to move up to the top spot in the allocation order. The trade also allowed the Fire to move up from the 33rd overall pick to the 22nd pick.
By moving up to the top spot in the allocation order, Colorado could potentially bring in reported target Alejandro Bedoya. Chicago still holds the second spot in the allocation order should it want any returning veterans.
With the 12th overall pick, the Fire continued to bolster their defense by selecting North Carolina center back Jonathan Campbell. After Campbell's selection, the Fire chose again at No. 22, selecting North Florida midfielder/forward Alex Morrell.
The Fire left fans with a lot to digest after an active draft day. The sheer amount of allocation money received bodes well for the club's efforts in the international market. The loss of Jones is an understandably concerning move considering the lack of options presently on the roster, but the team still has the money and time to potentially fill the void.
Chicago's maneuvers resulted in the club landing the draft's best left back and perhaps best center back if Josh Yaro is indeed moved out wide. Adding talented, young defenders was a dire need that was addressed. Morrell, meanwhile, impressed at the Combine and could crack the senior team or develop in St. Louis. It will be interesting to see if his small frame can hold up with the physicality of MLS. Rodriguez said he was drafted to contribute.
Rodriguez also added that some of the allocation money would go toward finding an international midfielder. He also said it could be used for summer moves if needs arise.
Chicago has plenty of flexibility right now moving forward. The draft was always going to be a small part of a larger revamp. How the allocation money is invested will still play a large part in how the team does in 2016.
Still, it's hard to be pessimistic when you realize the Fire have three players with national team right now.
How are you feeling after Thursday's draft?