MIAMI, Fla. (January 8, 2019)—
The Inter Miami roster currently has 21 players. On Thursday and Monday, that number will increase as a result of the MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas.
Miami holds two of the top three picks in the 2020 edition of the draft, which may in fact be the last such draft of its kind due to possible changes in MLS. Miami won the first pick as a result of the expansion priority draft back on Oct. 6, 2019. Rounds One and Two take place via conference call and live streaming on Thursday, Jan. 9; rounds Three and Four will be held by conference call on Monday, Jan. 13.
Miami has the No. 1 overall pick and the No. 3 selection as well as their natural fourth round selection ( 79th overall selection). The team also traded its second-round pick to the San Jose Earthquakes in exchange for the rights to goalkeeper Drake Callender, who later signed for the team, and its third-round pick to FC Cincinnati in a larger transaction that netted Inter Miami midfielder Victor Ulloa.
Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough said the team is still looking for “a little more offensive punch, another player in the midfield and a strong central defender.”
Given those specific needs, there’s a good possibility McDonough will go with either Robbie Robinson or Daryl Dike. If he goes for a defender with the first pick, then Jack Maher could be called to the Rosanegro. But don’t rule out Aaron Malloy from Penn State, who could provide help in the midfield and also on defense, since Miami does have international player slots available.
The extent to which new head coach Diego Alonso has weighed in on the players who will be taken is unclear, and, at any rate, McDonough certainly has had a better vantage point to look at talent in the U.S. Alonso, who is Uruguayan, is awaiting the approval of his O-1 visa which will allow him to begin working in the United States.
The SuperDraft includes amateur players who have completed their university level eligibility and a handful of elite underclassmen and youth national team players signed by MLS to Generation adidas contracts. The Generation adidas players get the opportunity to complete their education in the future; and their salaries don’t count against the teams’ salary budget, making them an attractive option.
Dating back to 2003, every first pick has been a Generation adidas player, so it is safe to assume Inter Miami will choose from among this year’s class, which includes center forward Robbie Robinson (Clemson, Jr.), forward Daryl Dike (Virginia, Soph.), center back Jack Maher (Indiana, Soph.), center back Henry Kessler (Virginia, Jr.), and winger Ryan Raposo (Syracuse, Soph.).
Two promising seniors — Georgetown defender Dylan Nealis and Stanford defender Tanner Beason — also pre-signed MLS contracts and are eligible.
Some well-known names have been former Generation adidas players: Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, and Darlington Nagbe, all of whom turned into league stars.
Here are some players who may feature in the SuperDraft
▪ Robbie Robinson, F, Clemson: The highest-scoring forward available, and winner of the Hermann Trophy (soccer’s version of the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the top player). He missed most of his sophomore season due to injuries, but came back to score 18 goals – tied for top in the nation – and had nine assists. He is 6-2 (1.88m) and is talented enough to make an impact.
▪ Daryl Dike, F, Virginia: Younger brother of former MLS player Bright Dike, Daryl led the Cavaliers to the final of the College Cup and scored a goal in the title game as Virginia lost to Georgetown in a penalty kick shootout. He had 10 goals and eight assists as a sophomore and is considered one of the top prospects in the draft.
▪ Jack Maher, CB, Indiana: Tall defender (6-3, 1.9m) who moves well and has good ball skills. He started for the Hoosiers as a freshman and sophomore and is considered one of the top center backs in college. He led an Indiana defense that was tops in the nation. Maher was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and scored three game-winning goals in 2019.
▪ Henry Kessler, CB, Virginia: Anchored one of the nation’s top defenses, and at 6-4 can play big and handle MLS attackers. Moves well for his size. Played 90 minutes in 24 games for a Virginia team that went 21-2-1 and had 12 shutouts.
▪ Ryan Raposo, W, Syracuse: All-Freshman ACC in 2018 with four goals and seven assists, and as a sophomore, this Canadian youth national scored 15 goals in 20 games with seven assists. Good one-on-one skills, has a lot of upside.
▪ Dylan Nealis, RB, Georgetown: Younger brother of New York Red Bulls defender Sean Nealis. A senior signee, he is more seasoned than the underclassmen. Won the 2019 NCAA Championship with the Hoyas and was a Hermann Trophy finalist. During his four years, he started 78 games, scored seven goals and had 14 assists. He was back-to-back Big East Defensive Player of the Year and was one of the best outside backs in college.
▪ Tanner Beason, LB, Stanford: A senior signee, he comes in with experience. Led the Cardinal to national titles in 2016 and 2017. Known for team leadership, could be a good role player.
▪ Cal Jennings, CF, Central Florida: Scored 14 goals in 15 games as a junior and 18 goals in 20 games as a senior. Scouting reports say he has good instincts in the box; getting to the right places, making the right run at the right times. He’s being compared to 2019 MLS Rookie of the Year, Brazilian Andre Shinyashiki.
▪ Aaron Molloy, M, Penn State: A Irish national who is from Dublin, he was one of the best players in the Big Ten. He is strong, tough and composed in the central midfield. He can win the ball and start the attack with a quick, well-hit pass. Normally a deep-lying defensive midfielder, he added nine goals and six assists to his game this past season.
▪Garrett McLaughlin, F, Southern Methodist: A direct attacker, he scored 15 goals and added 5 assists in his final year of eligibility. The scouting report indicates McLaughlin is a goal-dangerous forward that is more likely to feature out wide in a front three or a three-player band in a 4-2-3-1 than up front as a lone striker. He will likely play out wide in MLS.
▪Alistair Johnston, CM/RB, Wake Forest: The Canadian stepped up in a big way in his final year in university, manning the right back spot as a senior this past fall. He’s shown the ability to read the game well, while his passing and crossing can create chances for his team going forward.
A full list of the players in the MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas is available here.
The man behind the curtain ( do pay attention to)
Inter Miami Sporting Director Paul McDonough has had good fortune with previous MLS SuperDrafts when building expansion sides. He selected several contributing players for Orlando City SC and Atlanta United. With Orlando, McDonough selected Cyle Larin first overall in the 2015 SuperDraft. Larin went on to win the MLS Rookie of the Year award and break the record for most goals in a season by a rookie. In Atlanta, McDonough selected Julian Gressel out of Providence College and Miles Robinson in the 2017 SuperDraft, both of whom helped the team win the 2018 MLS Cup in only the franchise’s second year of existence. Gressel also won 2017 Rookie of the Year honours.