With the first pick of the 2019 MLS Draft, FC Cincinnati takes … a timeout.
As if you needed any more proof of the superfluous nature of the MLS SuperDraft these days, expansion club FC Cincinnati needed to take a timeout before making the first pick of the 2019 draft on Friday in Chicago — not to mention the quirk of even being able to call a timeout.
After the delay, Cincinnati chose the youngest player in the draft, UCLA’s Frankie Amaya with the No. 1 pick. A diminutive attacking midfielder at 5-4, Amaya had two goals and two assists in his freshman season with the Bruins in 2018, the same year he made his debut with the USMNT youth set-up (U-20s).
The timeout, it turns out, was called by the Cincy brass to discuss a possible trade for the top pick with LAFC. However, Cincinnati kept the pick to make Amaya the club’s first-ever selection.
The rest of the 2019 MLS Draft failed to really excite, as expected.
As Philadelphia highlighted earlier in the week by trading all of its picks away to Cincinnati (and receiving little in return), most MLS teams these days are not interested in building through the draft. Instead, academies/homegrown players and young South Americans have been the path to success, as Atlanta United so perfectly showed during the 2018 season.
That a timeout was used before the first pick showed even FC Cincinnati, with fewer MLS-caliber players than any other club, understood the SuperDraft is not a super way to build your team.
That’s not to say there weren’t players taken that could make a difference for their clubs, or that teams don’t still find value in the whole exercise.
The Colorado Rapids, who desperately need talent after a miserable 2018, shipped $100,000 in General Allocation Money and the No. 15 pick to Chicago for the No. 5 pick to take local lad Andre Shinyashiki, a forward from Denver University. (Chicago then sold the No. 15 pick to Minnesota United for $50,000 in GAM.) Colorado had a good day, also adding Benny Feilhaber as a free agent.
Sticking with Colorado schools, Air Force’s Tucker Bone probably won the award for best dressed at the 2019 MLS Draft, though Amaya looked pretty sharp as well. You can’t go wrong with this look, so much so that we won’t even make a childish comment about his name.
The moment it became officialBorn in Tacoma, Tucker Bone is now a Sounder! #SuperDraft by @adidassoccer pic.twitter.com/4GqON5rgDz
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) January 11, 2019
But pinning your hopes on players who have been playing three-month seasons and are as old as 22 is a futile exercise. Nonetheless the MLS SuperDraft remains, one of the few remaining aspects of American sports culture the league can’t seem to shake.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber is sensitive about criticism of #MLSSuperDraft , saying he is a big believer of process. "There always will be a role for players not developed in our academies. That is what today is all about."— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) January 11, 2019
The best moment of the day came before the actual draft.
In remarks just before Cincinnati took its timeout, Don Garber announced that henceforth the MLS Coach of the Year Award will be named after Sigi Schmid, the legendary coach who died in December at the age of 65. Schmid won more games in MLS than any other coach in the league’s history.
Honoring a legend of the game.Moving forward, we’ll be presenting the Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year award as part of our year-end honors. pic.twitter.com/Y5moEZBJEO
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) January 11, 2019
It was a great gesture from MLS, which named the MVP award after Landon Donovan a few years ago.
2019 MLS Draft First Round Picks
1. FC Cincinnati: Frankie Amaya, M (UCLA)
2. San Jose Earthquakes: Siad Haji, M (VCU)
3. Orlando City SC: Santiago Patino, F (FIU)
4. FC Dallas (from Colorado): Callum Montgomery, D (UNC Charlotte)
5. Colorado Rapids (from Chicago Fire): Andre Shinyashiki, F (Denver)
6. Toronto FC: Griffin Dorsey, M (Indiana)
7. Minnesota United FC: Dayne St. Clair, GK (Maryland)
8. Houston Dynamo: Sam Junqua, D (California)
9. New England Revolution: Tajon Buchanan, M (Syracuse)
10. FC Dallas (from Montreal): John Nelson, D (North Carolina)
11. New England Revolution (from Vancouver): DeJuan Jones, M (Michigan State)
12. New York City FC (from LA Galaxy): Luis Barraza, GK (Marquette)
13. FC Cincinnati (from Philadelphia): Logan Gdula, D (Wake Forest)
14. D.C. United: Akeem Ward, D (Creighton)
15. Minnesota United FC (from Chicago): Chase Gasper, D (Maryland)
16. New York Red Bulls (from FC Cincinnati): Roy Boateng, D (UC Davis)
17. Real Salt Lake: Sam Brown, M (Harvard)
18. Columbus Crew SC: JJ Williams, F (Kentucky)
19. LA Galaxy: Emil Cuello, M (Southern Methodist)
20. Seattle Sounders FC: Tucker Bone, M (Air Force)
21. Sporting Kansas City: Kamar Marriott, D (Florida Gulf Coast)
22. New York Red Bulls: Janos Loebe, F (Fordham)
23. Portland Timbers: Ryan Sierakowski, F (Michigan State)
24. Atlanta United FC: Anderson Asiedu, M (UCLA)
Round OneHere are the players selected at today’s #SuperDraft.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) January 11, 2019