Predicting who is going where in the MLS SuperDraft is an inexact science. Science is probably not the right word. It’s more like a crap shoot. Knowing who Sporting Kansas City is going to pick with the 14th pick is even tougher.
Last year a majority of the mock drafts had SKC selecting Ben Polk or Jonathan Campbell. Polk went to Portland (and has since been cut and signed with Orlando City B) and Campbell went to the Fire and actually had a pretty good rookie season at center back (despite how bad the Fire were/are). Both of these players went after Sporting KC traded out of the first round for about $125,000 in allocation money.
This year there have been eight mock drafts to date (at least) and we’ll try to summarize what the consensus is. Over the eight picks, five players fell to SKC. No player was picked more than twice. Here are the picks, their sites, some logic behind the picks (if the site provided it) and a bit of info about the players.
Niko Hansen (Top Drawer Soccer & SB Nation)
We at SB Nation actually had a mock draft as a group of sites as well as a draft (or half of one) on TBT (so we get two votes — cheating? I think not). TDS agreed with the SB Nation mock. TDS had the following analysis:
“Sporting Kansas City likes to make selections that are a bit outside of the box. Niko Hansen had a really good career at New Mexico and showed enough that suggests he could be a promising addition to any MLS team in the right role.”
Hansen is listed as both a forward and a midfielder, depending on who you ask. He had 13 goals and three assists in 2016, which is quite respectable. As for our Editor, Ben, who made the selection, he had immediate regrets.
“If I had to select again knowing the information I do now, I would focus more on defense. Sporting KC also need depth at center back and that’s where I see them focusing during the draft.”
I could see that or a move to add depth in the midfield. This is the trouble with the offseason. Things move fast. The trade for Christian Volesky and the signing of Cameron Iwasa make it much more likely SKC won’t add yet another forward, but those moves happened after the SB Nation Mock Draft.
Julian Gressel (The Blue Testament & Draft Utopia)
Eric has you pretty covered on Gressel in his (Half) Mock Draft. Gressel appears to be an attacking midfielder with the ability to play underneath a target forward. He tallied 15 goals and six assists this year. He does appear to be a bit of a reach according to both Eric and Draft Utopia:
“Gressel was a third round prospect at the beginning of the season and in the middle of the season, but he's played so well during the College Cup, that Gressel may go anywhere in between the first and third round.”
Brian Wright (SBI & Bleacher Report)
Wright is another striker who is a large target forward, something Sporting have lacked. Dom Dwyer has done well despite not having prototypical size for a CF. Wright managed 14 goals and 12 assists this past season. Neither Bleacher Report nor SBI gave any logic behind their picks, but the recent addition of Christian Volesky might remove the logic of making this pick. SBI originally had SKC going for Jacori Hayes but everyone else has him going much higher (and SBI moved him up to 7th in their second mock).
Adonijah Reid (MLSsoccer.com)
There doesn’t seem to be much known about Reid but he does appear to be a winger (where SKC have suddenly gotten much stronger with the signings of Gerso Fernandes, Latif Blessing, Tyler Pasher and Cameron Iwasa). The plus on Reid is he is on a Generation Adidas contract, meaning he won’t count against the salary cap. The downside for Sporting is he would require an international roster spot, which they are running low on with the previous three winger signings (excluding Iwasa). According to Matthew Doyle:
“He's at least a couple of years away from contributing. But he's a perfect draft-and-stash candidate for their USL side, Swope Park Rangers, and will get a chance to spend his late teens trying to progress through the ranks. He's skillful and elusive, and could end up being a quality, goal-scoring winger if he develops.”
Reid appears to be a bit of a reach in the 1st round, but someone may take a chance since he doesn’t take up cap space. Sporting KC also don’t have a second round pick as a byproduct of the Brad Davis trade, so if they really want him, the first round is their option baring a trade.
Napo Matsoso (NBC Sports)
NBC Sports gave no logic on their selection, so I’ll do my best. Matsoso lines up in the midfield, but he appears to be a box-to-box player. SKC would appear to already have depth in that role in the form of Benji Joya. Many see Joya has a Benny Feilhaber backup but in his own words, Joya prefers the box-to-box role.
Reports are that Matsoso is one of the quickest players in the draft, which is something that Sporting have sorely lacked over the years. He also scored six goals and added four assists last season.
There really isn’t one. Most of the drafts appear to be focused on center forwards or wingers, but that is a position that seems like it’s been addressed. There are suddenly a lot of forwards on the team, meaning some of them will probably end up on loan with SPR. Drafting another player at those spots seems unlikely, but I understand the logic when these mock drafts started.
While few of the drafts focused on it, defense and the midfield (especially the midfield) seem like areas that could use some depth. All the pundits are saying this is a deep defensive draft and really stacked at fullback. Those positions seem pretty set but whoever gets picked likely won’t be counted on to contribute for a while (I realize I just cursed the team to another injury riddled season). We’ll know more Friday, when the draft actually goes down (Friday the 13th at 2:00 PM CT).