SuperDraft Q&A with Travis Clark of Top Drawer Soccer

UCLA Freshman Frankie Amaya / Image: Don Liebig – UCLA

The MLS Combine starts today in Orlando and lasts through January 9th. Coaches, scouts, and media from around the country are gathered in Florida to gauge the talent available in this year’s draft. Orange & Blue Press connected with Travis Clark of Top Drawer Soccer to get his take on the 2019 college players and how FC Cincinnati should approach the SuperDraft. Clark is the Director of Content at Top Drawer and an expert on college soccer.

How do you compare this year’s draft class to recent years? Is it weaker as some have suggested?

TC: This year’s draft class is like many others. Diluted due to the elite players skipping school or already tied to MLS teams via the Homegrown mechanism. There aren’t a lot of players available at the top pick worthy of selection.

Every #1 pick since 2003 has been a Generation adidas player. Who are the top few names you expect to be in this year’s class, and do you expect the streak of #1 overall picks being Generation adidas to continue?

TC: There are no huge surprises in this year’s Generation adidas class so far, aside from the league making a very obvious swing back towards domestic players — last year’s group was mostly overseas college players. Given FC Cincinnati’s team at this point, adding a GA player at No. 1 seems inevitable because it comes with roster flexibility. There’s no clear candidate I’d take, although Siad Haji or Frankie Amaya have the highest ceilings. From what I can gather, Haji could fill a solid need, as he’s an attacking player that can occupy wide areas and play on the wing.

The Generation adidas players signed so far are Siad Haji, John Nelson, JJ Williams, Tajon Buchanan, Frankie Amaya, Griff Dorsey, and Dayne St. Clair.

Do you think FC Cincinnati’s draft strategy with their #1 pick should be to just get the best overall player, or should they try to address a 2019 positional need?

TC: FCC should definitely target the best player they can get, or the player they feel has the highest ceiling. There won’t be many players that are ready to step in right away and compete for time.

Is the MLS SuperDraft Still Relevant?

Who do you think FC Cincinnati should select and why?

TC: If I was FC Cincinnati, I would look to trade down or trade the pick away. Bring in a proven MLS player that a team is looking to move or some allocation money that can be used elsewhere.

What is the likelihood that FC Cincinnati’s first pick will be a year-one difference maker for the team?

TC: 5% at most. I don’t think any player from college soccer available in the draft will be a huge difference maker.

What are the odds that FCC trades the #1 pick to get something in return? Do you think that’s a good strategy?

TC: Yes — as I noted, it would make plenty of sense, depending on salary. Getting a player in the GA program makes sense too because it won’t count against the cap.

Do you know of any sleepers that might slip to the second round and make a high-quality pick there?

TC: I actually feel like FC Cincinnati could find a player in the second round. Last year, LAFC picked someone that I believe was cut in the first week or two. Looking for a central defender, outside back, or wide player with the first pick in the second round might yield a surprise. . . ., there should even be central midfielders out there (Joey Piatczyc, Andrew Samuels, or Tommy McCabe) that should be able to make the team.

Generation adidas Class

Many expected MLS to announce the 2019 Generation adidas class today, but there is no official news yet. The announcement is likely delayed in an attempt to include a couple of standout players who have not yet signed. One example is North Carolina State fullback Manny Perez, who is also attracting interest from Europe.

Generation adidas is a joint program between MLS and Adidas in which a handful of the top collegiate underclassmen and select youth national team players are signed to MLS contracts and made available in the SuperDraft. Since 2003, every #1 pick in the MLS SuperDraft has come from the Generation adidas class.

Despite the lack of an MLS announcement, tweets like this are starting to surface. Haji is the #1 ranked prospect on Top Drawer Soccer’s December 24th MLS Big Draft Board.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Travis for his time and insights. Get over to Top Drawer Soccer and check out all of their content on the draft, college, high school, and U.S. youth soccer. Also, stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft and FC Cincinnati’s offseason.

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