Assessing the 2021 MLS SuperDraft – Every Draft Pick for Every Team
The MLS SuperDraft never fails to dish up heartwarming stories, surprising selections, and plenty of drama – and this year’s edition of the draft was no exception.
Expansion team Austin FC selected Daniel Pereira as 2021’s number one pick, adding a further four players to their inaugural MLS roster along the way.
On the flip side, Philadelphia Union chose not to select a single player this year, while CF Montreal, Colorado Rapids, and Seattle Sounders only made one pick each.
In this post, I look at all 86 players taken during the 2021 MLS SuperDraft. I assess every pick for every team and share my thoughts on Major League Soccer’s future stars.
- Josh Bauer – New Hampshire (31)
- Aiden McFadden – Notre Dame (59)
Having traded their first-round pick to DC United, Atlanta joined the 2021 MLS SuperDraft in the second round. Still, it’s safe to say that the Five Stripes would have been very happy to see that Josh Bauer was still up for grabs.
The New Hampshire native was arguably one of the best center-backs on offer this year – and Atlanta needed to strengthen defensively following a poor 2020 campaign.
The Georgia club picked up Aiden McFadden in the third round, with the attacking midfielder completing a relatively successful draft for new head coach Gabriel Heinze.
- Daniel Pereira – Virginia Tech (1)
- Freddy Kleeman – Washington (11)
- Aeden Stanley – Duke (21)
- Daniel Steedman – Virginia (28)
- Noah Lawrence – Ohio State (55)
As the only expansion team entering MLS this year, Autin FC had the first pick in the draft. The newcomers sprung a slight surprise by selecting 20-year-old Venezuelan Daniel Periera, although it is a selection that makes sense.
The box-to-box midfielder notched up six goals and six assists in 26 appearances for Virginia Tech, so he is expected to hit the ground running in Major League Soccer.
The Texans also added defenders Freddy Kleemann and Aedan Stanley in the first round before taking forward Daniel Steedman and goalkeeper Noah Lawrence.
Austin’s inaugural MLS roster is beginning to take shape. If the club can make a few more additions when the transfer window opens on February 10, it could be a successful maiden season for the debutants.
- Giuseppe Barone – Michigan State (63)
After trading their first and second-round selections to Austin FC and Minnesota United, respectively, the newly rebranded CF Montreal only made one pick in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft.
Midfielder Giuseppe Barone was acquired in the third round, with the Canadians subsequently passing on their second third-round pick.
Barone bagged three goals and ten assists for Michigan State back in 2018, although he hasn’t played a college season since then. At this stage, it is difficult to gauge how involved the 23-year-old will be when the campaign gets underway.
- Jackson Ragen – Michigan (33)
- Christian Pinzon – California State, Fullerton (47)
- Mitch Guitar – Wisconsin (60)
The Fire made two eye-catching selections in the second round. After acquiring giant center-back Jackson Ragen, Chicago picked up highly-rated forward Christian Pinzon, who is coming off a couple of productive years at Cal State Fullerton.
It is no secret that the Fire struggled at both ends of the pitch last season, so head coach Raphael Wicky’s may be tempted to thrust both his second-round picks straight into the first team.
Mitch Guitar is a gifted midfielder, yet injuries have hampered his short career so far. If he can stay fit, he could bring a lot to Chicago.
- Philip Mayaka – Clemson (3)
Many believed that Philip Mayaka would be the first pick in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft. But after Austin took Pereira and FC Cincinnati opted for forward Calvin Harris, Colorado snapped up Mayaka.
The Rapids acquired the third overall pick from Houston Dynamo, with passes in the second and third rounds, making Mayaka their only selection. However, I’m sure they will be pleased with how things panned out.
Robin Fraser’s side showed real promise last year, despite enduring setbacks. 21-year-old Mayaka will take the team’s creativity to another level.
- Justin Malou – Clemson (27)
- Joshua Jackson-Ketchup – Ohio State (52)
The Crew recently signed Wake Forest youngster Isaiah Parente to a homegrown contract, and the 2020 MLS Cup champions were able to bolster their options further in the draft.
Columbus snatched versatile defender Justin Malou with the very last pick in the first round before adding another defender – Joshua Jackson-Ketchup – in the second round.
Caleb Porter has already been busy during the offseason, signing MLS veterans Bradley Wright-Phillips and Kevin Molino. With defensive and offensive options arriving in Columbus, the Crew will be confident of defending their title.
- Kimarni Smith – Clemson (4)
- Michael DeShields – Wake Forest (5)
- Logan Panchot – Stanford (32)
With two of the first five picks going to DC, the Black & Red had the opportunity to make a real statement. But that didn’t exactly happen.
Forward Kimarni Smith and defender Michael DeShields have both developed nicely at the college level over the past couple of years, but it could be argued that neither player is likely to make an immediate impact on the Washington outfit.
Former United States U19 international Logan Panchot was picked up in the second round, although it remains to be seen whether or not he will remain in Stanford for now.
Ultimately, I don’t think DC supporters will be overly impressed with their club’s SuperDraft picks.
- Calvin Harris – Wake Forest (2)
- Avionne Flanagan – South Florida (29)
- Jonas Fjeldberg – Dayton (54)
- Matthew Vowinkel – Hofstra (56)
If there is one thing we learned about FC Cincinnati last season, it’s that the team desperately needs a goalscorer. Needless to say, Jaap Stam will be hoping that Calvin Harris – the second overall pick – is that man.
The Orange & Blue chose with their defensive hat on in the second round, selecting Avionne Flanagan and Jonas Fjeldberg. In round three, Cincinnati went for another forward – Matthew Vowinkel.
Following back-to-back last-place finishes in the Eastern Conference, I wouldn’t be surprised if Stam gives all of his SuperDraft picks an opportunity to prove themselves in the first team right from the word go.
- Nicky Hernandez – SMU (15)
- Colin Shutler – Virginia (48)
- Thibaut Jacquel – Campbell (75)
- Mark Salas – UNC (76)
- Giovanni Montesdeoca – UNC (79)
Along with Austin and Nashville SC, FC Dallas was one of only three teams to make five selections in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft.
Nicky Hernandez is a creative midfielder with bags of potential, Thibaut Jacquel, and Mark Salas are both promising young defenders, while Giovanni Montesdeoca is a Dallas native with obvious ties to the Toros.
I’ll be interested to see whether second-round pick Colin Shutler gets a chance to showcase his talent this year. Dallas has already signed Brazilian goalkeeper Phelipe on loan from Gremio, while Jimmy Maurer was the main man between the sticks last term.
- Ethan Bartlow – Washington (6)
- Kristofer Strickler – Virginia Tech (30)
- Brandon Terwege – SMU (57)
Ethan Bartlow is the kind of guy who can come in and make an instant impact for the Dynamo. He was taken as the sixth overall pick, having gained a reputation as one of the best young defenders in the country with Washington.
At the other end of the pitch, Kristofer Strickler has scored plenty of goals in the ACC. Brandon Terwege is likely to remain at the college level for now, although he has the potential to become a future Dynamo star.
All in all, Houston enjoyed a successful draft.
- Josh Penn – Indiana (10)
- Aimé Mabika – Kentucky (26)
- Joseph Hafferty – Oregon State (37)
Inter Miami had two first-round picks at the 2021 MLS SuperDraft, taking Indiana forward Josh Penn at number ten and Kentucky defender Aimé Mabika at 26. Joseph Hafferty was selected early in the second round.
I don’t think the draft is the Herons’ main concern this year. With former Manchester United star Phil Neville recently joining as head coach and stars like Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi already at the club, Inter Miami will be hoping to attract more international names before the new season starts.
- Daniel Trejo – California State, Northridge (14)
- CC Uche – Ohio State (41)
- Alvaro Quezada – California, Irvine (68)
Like Inter Miami, LAFC won’t be intending to build their squad around SuperDraft picks this year. However, the Los Angeles club still made some interesting acquisitions.
Daniel Trejo (first round), CC Uche (second round), and Alvaro Quezada (third round) each bring something unique to Bob Bradley’s roster.
With nine goals and seven assists in 19 games for CSUN in the previous campaign, I’m especially looking forward to seeing Trejo in MLS. Defender Uche could also prove to be a shrewd addition, with LAFC leaking plenty of goals last season.
- Josh Drack – Denver (16)
- Preston Judd – Denver (35)
The Galaxy took both of their SuperDraft picks from Denver University this year, but could the Los Angeles club have done better? Personally, I think so.
It will be difficult for both Josh Drack and Preston Judd to break into Greg Vanney’s side, with the former only likely to be used as a backup. Judd may not even get anywhere near the first-team squad, at least for now, so I am still struggling to figure out exactly what the Galaxy’s draft strategy was.
- Justin McMaster – Wake Forest (17)
- Nabi Kibunguchy – California, Davis (18)
- Sean O’Hearn – Georgetown (38)
Minnesota acquired the seventeenth and eighteenth overall picks from New York City and Toronto FC, respectively, picking up Justin McMaster and Nabi Kibunguchy.
Born in Jamaica, McMaster has been called up by United States U20 and is renowned for being a tricky winger. Meanwhile, Kibunguchy will bolster the Loons’ defensive options.
But it could be second-round pick Sean O’Hearn who gets the most first-team opportunities in 2021. The left-back is expected to play second fiddle to Chase Gasper, meaning we could see him get some chances in Adrian Heath’s side.
- Irakoze Donasiyano – Virginia (20)
- Tom Judge – James Madison (36)
- Sondre Norheim – Syracuse (73)
- Tor Saunders – Coastal Carolina (74)
- Leroy Enzugusi – Drake (86)
In my opinion, only two of Nashville’s SuperDraft picks are likely to feature for the Boys in Gold in MLS this year – forward Irakoze Donasiyano and goalkeeper Tor Saunders.
Donasiyano has learned his trade with the University of Virginia and looks like a genuine threat in attack, while Saunders could provide cover for Joe Willis between the sticks, although Willis was among the 2020 MLS stat leaders.
Tom Judge, Sondre Norheim, and Leroy Enzuguidi – the very last pick of the 2021 MLS SuperDraft – may have to bide their time.
New England Revolution
- Edward Kizza – Pittsburgh (24)
- Francois Dulysse – Manhattan College (51)
In my 2021 MLS SuperDraft preview, I predicted that Edward Kizza would be high up on a lot of clubs’ list, especially those looking for a goalscoring striker. In the end, the Revs took a chance on the former Pitt forward.
The youngster bagged 12 goals and four assists in the 2019 season, so it is no real surprise that New England head coach Bruce Arena is excited about the prospect of Kizza teaming up with the Greater Boston outfit.
Defender Francois Dulysse was picked up in round two, with the Revs passing on their third-round selection.
New York City
- Ben Di Rosa – Maryland (44)
- Vuk Latinovich – University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (71)
Having traded their first-round pick for general allocation money, New York City entered the SuperDraft in the second round, acquiring Maryland right-back Ben Di Rosa. Vuk Latinovich was subsequently taken in the third round, enhancing the club’s midfield options.
Following an indifferent 2020 campaign for the Boys in Blue, I can see both Di Rosa and Latinovich challenging for a spot in Ronney Deila’s team. Now feels like a good time for young players to be joining NYC.
New York Red Bulls
- Luther Archimede – Syracuse (13)
- Lamine Conte – Louisville (40)
- AJ Marucci – Connecticut College (67)
At just 21, Luther Archimede is already a fully-fledged international. The Guadeloupe striker could be selected to lead the line for the Red Bulls this year, with the team’s current forwards failing to impress the last term.
In my eyes, Archimede could prove to be one of Major League Soccer’s breakthrough stars in 2021.
As for Lamine Conte (second round) and AJ Marcucci (third round), it may be a case of proving their credentials with Red Bulls II. The club already is already well-stocked in midfield and the goalkeeping department.
- Derek Dodson – Georgetown (8)
- Rio Hope-Gund – Georgetown (19)
- Brandon Hackenberg – Penn State (22)
- Andrew Pannenberg – Wake Forest (49)
Orlando City was spoiled for choice this year, having acquired an extra two first-round picks. However, the club’s tactics didn’t really pay off.
Sure, with 11 goals and eight assists in 24 appearances for Georgetown last year, Derek Dodson has the potential to become the next Daryl Dike. But center-backs Rio Hope-Gund and Brandon Hackenberg are very similar, meaning one – if not both – of them will struggle to get into Oscar Pareja’s team.
Second-round selection Andrew Pannenberg is a backup shot-stopper at best, so I think the Lions could have done better with their four picks this year.
Philly traded their SuperDraft picks to Orlando, Vancouver, and Nashville this year, receiving general allocation money in return. The Union’s policy of signing, developing, and selling young prospects seems to be working at the moment.
I mean, they did win the Supporters’ Shield last year, right?
- Dawson McCartney – Dartmouth College (43)
- Diego Gutierrez – Creighton (70)
Orlando acquired Portland’s first-round pick, meaning the Timbers only had two SuperDraft selections this year. Dawson McCartney is an exciting midfielder from Dartmouth, while Diego Gutierrez made his name as a forward with Creighton.
I can see McCartney competing for a place in the Timbers’ midfield this year, although he will likely have to settle for substitute appearances at first. Conversely, Gutierrez could find it more difficult to make an impression.
Real Salt Lake
- Bret Halsey – Virginia (7)
- Elijah Amo – Louisville (34)
- Aris Briggs – Georgia State (61)
- Rene White – New Jersey Institute of Technology (84)
Following a 2020 campaign to forget, RSL will be hoping that at least one or two of their selections can improve the team this year. However, I can’t say that I’m overly impressed with their SuperDraft movements.
Okay, seventh overall pick Bret Halsey is a highly-rated young right-back. But is he really going to turn the Claret & Cobalt into a genuine MLS force again?
Forward pair Elijah Amo and Aris Briggs will almost certainly team up with RSL’s affiliate team, Real Monarchs, while I’m not quite sure what will happen to Rene White.
San Jose Earthquakes
- Thomas Williamson – California (12)
- George Asomani – North Carolina State (39)
Could Thomas Williamson be the next Chris Wondolowski? Well, he certainly has a lot to live up to. But having been taking twelfth overall, the California striker will feel right at home in San Jose.
Midfielder George Asomani was the Quakes’ second-round pick. Known for his relentless work-rate and dynamism, the Ghanaian joins the Goonies from North Carolina State.
It was by no means an amazing SuperDraft for San Jose, but it certainly wasn’t bad, either.
- TJ Bush – James Madison (80)
Having traded their first and second-round picks, the Sounders only added one draft player to their roster – goalkeeper TJ Bush. With Stefan Frei very much the club’s number one gloveman, Bush isn’t likely to get anywhere near Seattle’s first team any time soon.
Sporting Kansas City
- Matt Constant – UNC (50)
- Jamil Roberts – Marshall (77)
Sporting KC moved early this year, snapping up three homegrown players before the SuperDraft even took place. Defender Matt Constant (second round) and forward Jamil Roberts (third round) were both added later on, with the Wizards’ eventually passing on their compensatory pick.
I wouldn’t be surprised if both Constant and Roberts end up playing for USL Championship side Sporting Kansas City II this year. The second-tier experience will only help them develop into future SKC stars.
- Matt Di Rosa – Maryland (25)
- Nathaniel Crofts – Virginia (45)
- Paul Rothrock – Georgetown (64)
- Jan-Talen Maples – SMU (72)
The Reds used all of their picks this year. First-round selection Matt Di Rosa has a genuine chance of breaking into Toronto’s midfield in the not-too-distant future, while English winger Nathaniel Crofts was an interesting choice in round two.
Midfield duo Paul Rothrock and Jon-Talen Maples were landed in round three, having both impressed at the college level. Still, the 2021 MLS season may come a bit too soon for them.
After ending the previous campaign in disappointing fashion, TFC’s SuperDraft strategy seems to have worked.
- David Egbo – Akron (9)
- Javain Brown – South Florida (23)
- Eric Iloski – UCLA (46)
- Joel Harrison – Michigan (53)
University of Akron striker David Egbo has established himself as a genuine goalscorer over the past few years, so the Caps’ decision to take the Nigeria native as the ninth overall pick appears to be a sensible move.
Javain Brown was also picked up in the first round. The right-back already has four senior caps for Jamaica under his belt, so I can see him going straight into Vancouver’s first-team squad.
Midfielder Eric Iloski and defender Joel Harrison were both acquired in the second round, completing the Whitecaps’ successful SuperDraft selections.
Let’s be honest – a lot of the players picked up during the 2021 MLS SuperDraft won’t go on to make a name for themselves in Major League Soccer.
However, there are plenty of names on the list that are destined to become future Major League Soccer legends.
That’s it for the 2021 draft. But if you want to look back over the years, why not check out the top 10 MLS SuperDraft picks of all time?