The MLS SuperDraft is upon us once again. Teams are going through their film and scouting reports in an attempt to find players that can help them for next year and into the future. College players are getting ready to take that next step into the professional game, and it marks the unofficial start to the 2020 MLS season.
There is a good chance the Fire front office trades out of the draft again, just like they did last year. With the influx of talent coming into the league through other means, the MLS SuperDraft has become less and less a priority for some teams including the Chicago-based club. However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the new brain trust of Raphael Wicky and Georg Heitz are going to select players with the number 10 and number 26 picks.
As always, there are two draft strategies in a college draft. You can draft for need and take the player that best fits a hole in the roster. Or, you can select the guy you think is the best player left, regardless of position or play style. The Fire find themselves in a position where they don’t have to choose. Their roster sits at just 17 players, so there are holes to fill everywhere. They have the luxury of taking the best player on the board and having them fill some sort of need.
The 10th pick is the most interesting of the two spots, because it’s the one with the best chance of having anything come from the pick. The Fire probably didn’t finish low enough in the table to grab one of the five Generation Adidas players (as of this writing), but they can still land a piece that could have a positive effect on the season.
Both MLSsoccer.com and Top Drawer Soccer have the Fire taking Tanner Beason, a left/center back out of Stanford with the tenth pick. Beason could be a solid piece who’s biggest question is “Can he play left back at an MLS level?” If the answer is no, he could very well slot into a learning role behind the two starting center backs, whoever they end up being. Something else to consider is that despite not being a Generation Adidas player, Beason has already signed a contract with the league. If he gets selected, the Fire won’t need to worry about negotiating his deal before the start of training camp on the 20th of January. It would be one less hassle for the new men in charge of the club.
Alternatively, they could take SMU forward Garret McLaughlin, or Jeremy Kelly from North Carolina. McLaughlin is the 34th ranked player in Top Drawer’s top 100 players and is the highest ranked player on their draft board. Kelly, meanwhile, is a versatile player who played both defensive midfield and right wingback during his college career. The last player the Fire got from the draft who could play both roles turned out pretty good, and he could be a nice option if Beason is gone.
The 26th pick is more of a crap shoot. It’s the last selection of the first round, and it’s the pick the Fire got when they sent Stefan Cleveland and a second round pick to Seattle. This pick gives them a bit more freedom to take a flyer on someone they see as flawed but talented. Top Drawer has them taking Wallis Lapsley, a goalkeeper from UC Davis while the MLS website has them taking Brandon Williamson, a central midfielder from Duke.
Williamson was a product of DC United’s academy system before he started his college career, and that experience could serve him well down the line as far as getting playing time is concerned.
As for Lapsley, the Fire could do worse than a goalkeeper at this spot, considering their only back-up at the position is 16-year-old Gabriel Slonina. A back-up in between the teen and Kenneth Kronholm would be a welcome edition for the club, and the draft is the easiest and cheapest way to get one.
So that’s what we think. Who do you want to see the Fire select in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft? Make the case for your guy in the comments.