Who will Sporting KC take with the 8th pick in the 2023 MLS draft? Part two
This Wednesday, the 2023 MLS Super draft kicks off and Sporting KC have the eighth pick. With the World Cup ending, the MLS Super Draft has somewhat flown under the radar. Up until recently, the list of Generation Adidas players had yet to be announced along with the list of draft-eligible players. With these new announcements come new options for Sporting KC at the number eight draft spot. We take look at them below.
- Joey Akpunonu, D (Bowling Green) - Junior
- Joshua Bolma, M (Maryland) - Redshirt Sophomore
- Moise Bombito, D (New Hampshire) - Junior
- CJ Fodrey, F (San Diego State) - Freshman
- Shak Mohammed, F (Duke) - Sophomore
- Owen O’Malley, M (Creighton) - Sophomore
- Ilijah Paul, F (Washington) - Sophomore
- Joey Skinner, D (Clemson) - Sophomore
Sporting KC are in an advantageous position at number eight in part because none of the top seven teams drafting need a center back. This means it’s possible the top center back prospects will fall to them at number eight. Of course, some teams make it a habit of taking the best players available so the top players, even the center-backs, might be taken before Sporting KC make a selection.
As it stands, there are eight players signed to Generations Adidas contracts. Those players are listed above. Players signed to Generation Adidas are not charged against a team’s salary budget, giving the teams more incentives to pick them.
Unless there is a huge surprise coming, St Louis City SC are likely taking an attacking player off the board. The other six teams though, are less known. What is known is that Sporting KC need a right footed center back and there are two available via Generation adidas: Joey Akpunonu and Moise Bombito. Let’s take a look at their profiles.
Joey Akpunonu, Center Back, Bowling Green
6’3, 185, Toledo, Ohio
Earlier this month Akpunonu participated in the MLS College Showcase, and he had to have shown well given his GA contract. Despite being a Center Back, Akpunonu led his team with six goals this past year. He’s very diverse as he played left and right center back for Bowling Green this year.
Akpunonu is a good athlete and won many aerial duels this year. He also plays the long ball very well—a huge need for SKC center backs. His positioning is probably one of his best attributes as he always seems to be in the right position to intercept ground passes, win second balls or head away long balls. Moreover, Akpinonu keeps the game in front of him. He rarely got beat by runs in behind or speedy wingers with the ball. In a word, Akpunonu is solid. He isn’t a spectacular passer, but he has a really good passing range. One clear area of improvement was his ability to progress the ball with his feet. In the games I watched, he rarely drove ball through the defense when there were few passing options. To be fair, the times he did drive the ball forward he did so well, and he looked comfortable with the ball at his feet. His lack of ball progression could be a function of the way his team plays.
Honestly, Akpunonu is the most likely pick for Sporting KC at eight. It is unlikely that the seven teams ahead of them will pick center backs given that a few have just signed some and many need offense depth. Moreover, Akpunonu does not take up an international spot, which Sporting do not have at the current moment. My guess is Akpunonu will be a starting quality center back who may have to get some spot starts this upcoming year.
Moise Bombito, Center Back, New Hampshire
6’3, Montreal, Québec
Simply put, Moise Bombito is the best available center back in this draft. He is great athlete with unique technical ability. He scored four goals this past year but what really shined in his ability to progress the ball via passing or dribbling. He regularly hit long balls on a dime to teammates or played line-breaking ground passes. Either way, he put his teammates in great positions to score or move play forward.
Bombito is also a beast in the air, almost Ike Opara lite. In MLS, I don’t see him losing many aerial duels. Bombito will be a really good center back in the MLS. In fact, I believe that Bombito will turn out to become the star from this draft. It may not be immediate, but within a year or two he will be a great CB in MLS, and maybe in the international picture with Canada. Speaking of his national status, that is my only concern on whether or not he will even be picked by Sporting KC. Unless Bombito has a green card, he will be taking up an international spot of which Sporting KC do not have. Unless Sporting KC plan to buy an international spot (which I doubt they do for a draft pick) or get one of their current international players a green card, SKC will have to pass on Bombito if he is available.
With the GA list out, who do you think SKC is drafting with the eighth pick?