SuperDraft Every year, Major League Soccer (MLS) holds the SuperDraft, an event where teams look to select the best players from college and US youth national teams. This is an exciting time for scouts, players, and fans alike as they anticipate what new talent will be joining their favorite teams. The 2023 SuperDraft class is shaping up to be one of the most competitive classes ever seen in MLS history. Let’s take a closer look at this upcoming class of talented players.
Position Breakdown The 2023 SuperDraft class looks to be dominated by midfielders, with the majority of projected first-round picks being central and attacking midfielders. Teams are looking for players who can control possession and provide creative passing options that can unlock defenses. MLS teams are also on the lookout for defenders who can provide quality defending in 1v1 situations and make good decisions in tight spaces. Finally, strikers who have shown an ability to finish opportunities both inside and outside the box will also be highly coveted come draft day. Looking at goalkeepers, The goalkeeper spot is led by Holden Trent, whose size, shot-stopping and athleticism mean he projects to stick around at the pro level. Cole Jensen was the Big East Goalkeeper of the Year at Xavier and earned All-American honors. A product of the Seattle Sounders Academy, Sam Fowler broke his wrist in the fall of 2022 but did return for the Huskies. Oliver Semmle, who’s from Germany and helped Marshall win the 2020 national title, would require an international roster spot in MLS. Russell Shealy, a transfer from Maryland, just won the NCAA Division 1 title with Syracuse and made several huge stops in the final. He played for the Atlanta United Academy before heading to college. In the defence positions the top prospects at the full back position are Nick Richardson who was excellent for Maryland in the fall on both sides of the ball; the two-time captain earned All-American honors in 2022. Milo Garvanian is a versatile player, Garvanian could play a number of spots after a quietly excellent career at UNC. On the left side, GA signee Joey Skinner boosts the depth after a solid career at Clemson. The Big East Midfielder of the Year in 2022, Aidan Rocha projects more as an outside back, where he spent the bulk of his college career. At Centre Back, Daniel Munie is one of the clear top prospects, and Joey Akpunonu earned a GA deal thanks to a great performance at the 2022 adidas MLS College Showcase. Andreas Ueland is a Norwegian-American that will need to show he can defend in space and on the turn, but he offers real quality. Fellow ACC standout Hamady Diop was a key player for Clemson ever since stepping on campus and adds another intriguing center-back prospect. A Montréal native, Moise Bombito dominated the America East Conference and will surely earn a long look from one of the Canadian MLS sides. Xavier Zengue and London Aghedo are sleepers that have intriguing traits and could thrive in the right environment. The midfield position has some intriguing prospects starting with Malcolm Johnston who has the tools and quality centrally after a strong career at Maryland. He’s the younger brother of Canadian international fullback Alistair Johnston, who earned a transfer from CF Montréal to Scotland’s Celtic FC after featuring at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. While teams may doubt Christian Soto because of his size, he’s a hard-working player that is clean on the ball and could make it work on the right team or formation. Amferny Sinclair hit the game-winning penalty in the national championship game for Syracuse and has pedigree as a Costa Rican youth international. The 2023 Generation Adidas class supplies the bulk of its talent in the wide attacking areas. Shakur Mohammed can stake a claim as one of the top prospects in the draft pool after two strong seasons at Duke. He played prep school soccer with San Jose Earthquakes forward Ousseni Bouda, a GA prospect from last year’s SuperDraft. CJ Fodrey is a big, left-footed winger with upside who just earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors. He has development ahead of him to come good, but also a very high ceiling. It wasn’t a huge season for Josh Bolma at Maryland, but he still has high-level potential as a winger. Like Mohammed, he’s from Ghana. Two French wingers in Bertin Jacquesson and JC Ngando have both enjoyed stellar seasons and will look to make it work in MLS. Owen O’Malley was a key figure for Creighton’s run to College Cup weekend in 2022. The North Carolina native has a high work rate and can create from wide areas. Projecting the success of forwards making the jump from college to MLS is never easy. But Stephen Afrifa, a Toronto native, is seen as one of the best (if not the best) from this year’s senior class. GA signee Ilijah Paul had a breakout season for the Huskies, earning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors. A hard-working front-runner, he’ll need to continue improving with his combination play and his back-to-goal/hold-up play. Patrick Agyemeng has the physical ability to compete in MLS but will need to be more consistent to hit the ground running. He could potentially play out on the wing as well. MD Myers, a Philadelphia Union Academy product, transferred to Rutgers ahead of the 2022 season and was the Big Ten Offensive Player. Arguably no prospect carries intrigue like Duncan McGuire, who led the nation in scoring with 23, leading Creighton to College Cup weekend. He’s relentless and works extremely hard. Can he be efficient in finishing his chances at the next level? Shaun Joash is a sleeper from the Western Athletic Conference. Their Offensive Player of the Year, he scored 12 goals in 16 games and perhaps did just enough to get picked despite his international status (England).
Player Development The development of these prospects has been monitored closely since childhood, with many of them having already been identified as potential professional players back when they were playing in youth leagues. These players have gone through rigorous training regimens both on and off the field during their high school and college careers in order to prepare them for success at the next level. With all this hard work, scouts expect these young stars to make an impact in MLS immediately upon being drafted.
Scouting Performance Scouts have been keeping close tabs on these prospects since their early days playing youth soccer and have developed detailed scouting reports on each player’s strengths and weaknesses going into the draft. Scouts have identified which players possess a combination of technical proficiency, tactical acumen, physicality, leadership skills, creativity, decision-making abilities, speed on/off the ball etc., so teams know exactly what they are getting when they make their selection come draft day.
MLS 2023 SuperDraft With such a deep talent pool available at this year’s SuperDraft, it is sure to be an exciting event full of surprises and unexpected selections from all 30 MLS teams. As scouts finalize their rankings heading into draft day and teams begin making preparations for selecting their newest members of their franchises, fans should stay tuned for all the action! The 2023 MLS SuperDraft promises to bring some fresh talent into Major League Soccer that could shape its future for years to come!