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Previewing the 2021 MLS SuperDraft on January 21

| January 11, 2021 5:56 am PDT
Previewing the 2021 MLS SuperDraft

The 2021 MLS SuperDraft begins at 14:00 (EST) on Thursday, January 21, with representatives from all 27 Major League Soccer clubs participating in a conference call due to the current situation.

With the start of the 2021 MLS season scheduled tentatively for early March, managers will be hoping to add some of the country’s best young players to their rosters before the new campaign gets underway.

I cover everything you need to know about the 2021 MLS SuperDraft below, including the draft format, pre-arranged trades, players to look out for, and more.

2021 MLS Super Draft Format

  • The 2021 MLS SuperDraft has been reduced from four rounds to three
  • As always, any expansion teams receive the first pick in each round
  • Austin FC is the only expansion team this year
  • Teams that failed to qualify for the 2020 MLS Cup playoffs select next
  • Non-playoff clubs pick in reverse order of last season’s conference standings
  • Teams that qualified for the 2020 playoffs are given the next selections
  • Last season’s runners-up get the penultimate picks in each round
  • The winners of the 2020 MLS Cup will pick last in each round

As the only expansion team in 2021, Austin FC will get the first pick in all three SuperDraft rounds this year.

The newcomers have already started to build an impressive squad, with Paraguay duo Cecilio Dominguez and Rodney Redes joining from Club Guarani, as well as former New York City star Alexander Ring.

Along with sporting director Claudio Reyna, Austin head coach Josh Wolff will be looking to use the SuperDraft to put the finishing touches to Austin’s inaugural MLS roster.

2020 MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew will pick last in each round, with runners-up Seattle Sounders getting the penultimate selections.

Trades for the 2021 MLS SuperDraft

There have already been a number of pre-arranged trades for the 2021 MLS SuperDraft, with clubs swapping players and money in exchange for picks.

With this year’s draft only consisting of three rounds, clubs that have already received a fourth-round selection for 2021 will be given a compensatory pick after the third round.

Let’s take a closer look at all the agreed trades for the 2021 SuperDraft.

Round 1

  • Pick 6 – Colorado Rapids have paid Chicago Fire $125,000 in general allocation money for a first-round selection
  • Pick 11 – Austin FC has acquired a first-round pick from Montreal Impact and $225,000 in general allocation money for Karmal Miller
  • Pick 19 – With Philadelphia Union claiming the homegrown player rights to Nathan Harriel, Orlando City get two first-round selections
  • Pick 23 – Vancouver Whitecaps have taken Sporting Kansas City’s first-round pick in exchange for Erik Hurtado
  • Pick 26 – Roman Torres has moved to Seattle Sounders, meaning Inter Miami gets two first-round selections

Round 2

  • Pick 47 – Chicago Fire has acquired a second-round pick and $100,00 from Nashville SC, with Dax McCarty moving to the Nashville club
  • Pick 53 – Seattle Sounders have been handed an international roster spot, meaning Vancouver Whitecaps now have two second-round selections

Round 3

  • Pick 63 – Montreal Impact have traded Evan Bush to Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for a third-round draft pick
  • Pick 64 – With Juan Agudelo moving to Inter Miami, Toronto FC now has two third-round selections
  • Pick 76 – FC Dallas has acquired a third-round pick from Orlando City
  • Pick 79 – Jacori Hayes has joined Minnesota United, meaning FC Dallas now has three third-round selections
  • Pick 81 – Inter Miami traded Grant Lillard to Columbus Crew, with New York Red Bulls later acquiring pick 81 in exchange for Patrick Seagrist

Compensatory Picks

  • Sporting Kansas City
  • Inter Miami (x2)
  • Real Salt Lake
  • Nashville SC

2021 MLS SuperDraft Players to Look For

Below are seven players that are worth looking out for in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft.

Of course, there are countless rising stars up for grabs. But I believe these guys are destined to get picked this year.

Ousseni Bouda

Born in Burkina Faso, Ousseni Bouda moved to New York with his family when he was four. Over the past few years, he has established himself as one of the best young forwards in the country.

The 20-year-old currently represents Stanford University, with his goal-laden performances for Stanford Cardinal in the NCAA attracting plenty of attention.

Having won the 2018 Gatorade Player of the Year and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2019, Bouda is destined to go far.

Ethan Bartlow

If teams are looking to acquire a promising center-back in the SuperDraft, they should look no further than Ethan Bartlow.

The 2019 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year has been making a real name for himself with Washington Huskies and has been rewarded for his efforts at the college level with three caps for the U17 United Staes national team.

Bartlow possesses all the right attributes to become a top-quality modern-day center-back. He is quick, comfortable with the ball at his feet, and capable of picking out a pass.

Sofiane Djeffal

In 2018, French-born attacking midfielder Sofiane Djeffal left homeland club FC Nantes U19 to join Oregon State University. Since then, he has gained a reputation as one of the hottest prospects in college soccer.

Djeffal has notched up eight goals and 13 assists in 36 appearances for the Beavers, making him one of the most exciting attacking prospects available in the 2021 SuperDraft.

With teams like FC Cincinnati and Nashville SC struggling for goals last season, Djeffal could be the answer to a number of teams’ problems.

Edward Kizza

For those clubs searching for an out-and-out striker in the upcoming draft, Edward Kizza will almost certainly be on their radar.

The pacey forward parted ways with the University of Pittsburgh Men’s Soccer Program towards the end of 2020, leaving as the Panther’s second-highest scoring player of all time – six goals short of Joe Luxbacher’s record.

Despite his recent Pitt departure, Kizza’s record of 12 goals and four assists in the 2019 season is surely enough to turn some heads in Major League Soccer.

Patrick Schulte

He may only be 19 years of age, but Patrick Schulte is already being talked about as one of the most mature young goalkeepers on the college scene.

In fact, the shot-stopper had already represented the USMNT twice at the U20 level, making his international debut when he was just 18.

Having shone for University team Billikens and trained with USL side St. Louis FC, I’m expecting Schulte to be an in-demand first-round pick.

Carlo Ritaccio

Carlo Ritaccio’s versatility makes him an admirable selection in this year’s Super Draft. Predominantly a center-back, the 20-year-old can also operate at full-back, as well as defensive midfield.

The dual national – USA and Italy – currently belongs to the University of Akron, where he has shone for the Zips.

Ritaccio was handed his international debut when he was 16, playing two games for the USMNT U17s. He has since made two U19 appearances, proving that he is ready to make the step up to Major League Soccer.

Rio Hope-Gund

It’s easy to see why a lot of people are getting excited about Rio Hope-Gund. After all, the tall defender would probably improve a few backlines in MLS.

Representing the Hoyas of Georgetown University, Hope-Gund was part of a defense that achieved a remarkable 13 shutouts in 20 games in 2019. He also contributed two assists in the process.

I’ll be very surprised if Hope-Gund doesn’t get snapped up in the first round of the 2021 MLS SuperDraft.

Wrap-Up

I’m really looking forward to the 2021 MLS SuperDraft.

With recent draft picks likes Daryl Dike, Jeremy Ebobisse, and Chris Mueller among the top performers in the 2020 MLS season, clubs will be eager to acquire American soccer’s next big thing.

Of course, draft picks don’t always work out. We have seen numerous promising youngsters fail to fulfill their potential since Major League Soccer began. But there is no denying that there is something special about the SuperDraft.

With four former NCAA stars being named in the 2020 MLS Best XI, prodigies like Bouda, Bartlow, and Djeffal could find themselves in the same position in years to come.

Looking ahead to the 2021 MLS season – the bookies have already released their odds for the new term. If you’re planning to wager on the upcoming campaign, make sure you check out the early betting odds for the 2021 MLS Cup.

Ben Morris
Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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