With the MLS Super Draft coming soon, it's time to look over the MLS draft board and see who's available for the New York Red Bulls.
Rules of the Board:
1. Take talent first. Take talent over positional need. Worst comes to worst they go to NYRB II (they're likely to anyways) and prove themselves there.
2. Look to stock NYRB II. Potential over MLS readiness, as New York already have a very full MLS roster. Few players in the draft are players that could see significant time with New York this year, and unlikely for New York to get them anyways at their draft position.
3. This draft is pretty deep. Even with the narrative that the draft is becoming shallower and less important every year (it is), this year's draft provides some quality talent, especially at central defense and midfield. So take a gamble on prospective talent. With Homegrowns and the academy system you can afford to take that gamble as not all the young talent is coming through draft now.
Positional Priority (ranked by the team's need):
1. Center back: Miazga may be gone soon, Damien Perrinelle is still injured (also old), and Ronald Zubar is also old and injury prone (also not that great). Karl Ouimette is the only other center back on the roster, he's good but not fantastic. Konrad Plewa (only center back on NYRB II's roster) isn't a natural center back, Tyler Adams is shifting towards being a defensive mid, and Mason Deeds (academy prospect and possible NYRB II signing) is too young to play an MLS level. The only real center back academy prospect in college at the moment is Kevin Politz at Wake Forest. It's a need.
2. Right back: Depth exists with Chris Duvall, Connor Lade, Sal Zizzo, and possibly Chris Thorsheim, but there is no star or clear starter. Adams, again, shifting towards defensive mid, and Matthew Olosunde is likely gone.
3. Right wing: Lloyd Sam is 31, and will be 32 by the time playoffs roll around. Gonzalo Veron is seen long term on the left side/up top. This leaves a lot of question marks to potentially take over the position (Brandon Allen, Alex Muyl, Thorsheim).
4. Attacking Mid: Sacha Kljestan will be 31 by the time playoffs start, Sean Davis and Mael Corboz are good understudies, but neither are elite. Talent available in the draft. Adam Najem (New York academy graduate) is very exciting in college.
5. Defensive midfielder: Adams is the only clear backup to Dax McCarty, and he is incredibly young. Dax, while the captain and likely to play a lot, could use an understudy. However, there is plenty of defensive midfield talent on NYRB II ("Speedy" Devon Williams, Dan Metzger, and Plewa).
6. Left back: Kemar Lawrence is great, and Lade, Thomsenm, and Shawn McLaws are all backups. The question remains if New York wants to find an eventual replacement for when Kemar leaves for greener pastures.
7. Left wing: Mike Grella has shown well, but unlikely to keep up his production. Veron likely to see a lot of time here this year and long term. Derrick Etienne will also challenge for playing time.
8. Striker: Bradley Wright-Phillips is solid, though aging (31 in March). Anatole Abang has shown exceptionally well given his age, tons of potential there. Allen and Muyl also capable up top. Plenty of striking talent in the academy and college (JSS, Tejera, Saramago, Fernandez).
9. Center Mid (think 8/Felipe): Completely stacked here. Felipe Martins -> Davis -> Thorsheim -> Corboz, with Basuljevic and other academy players doing well in college.
10. Goalkeeper: Luis Robles is not old in terms of goalkeepers, and is an ironman in net. The team sees Meara with a lot of potential (if healthy), wants Kyle Reynish back (solid MLS backup), and Santiago Castaño still very young. Evan Louro also looks good in college. No need here.
Note: With the exception of center mid and goalie, and possibly prioritizing a center back, these rankings don't mean a whole lot. Remember rule 1, talent over need.
1st Round, 18th overall pick: Cole Seiler (hoping Thomas Libiih, but I think he's off the board at this point). New York needs a cente rback and in a deep class, it'll be interesting to see who's around for New York's pick. Seiler was likely first pick Joshua Yaro's center back partner at Georgetown, and has shown well at the combine. New York could always use another center back that is a capable of passing out of the back.
2nd Round, 38th overall pick: Eric Verso. New York is stacked in the midfield, but Verso is skilled and versatile. He's surrounded by talent at Stanford in Jordan Morris, Brandon Vincent, and Ty Thompson which has lessened his draft stock slightly as some see him just as a product of the system. However, that may work in New York's favor as it'll allow them to pick up underrated talent late in the second round.
4th Round, 79th overall pick: Thomas Sanner, a little Princeton forward for a former Princeton assistant coach. Cameron Porter 2.0? At this point in the draft it's a guessing game for most teams. It's best to take what's familiar or local, and Thomas Sanner checks both of those boxes. Harvard and Red Bull U23 defender Tim Schmoll is also a possibility.
* listed at multiple positions
# GA player
^ former RBNY academy graduate
1. Andrew Tarbell #, 22, Clemson
2. Callum Irving, 22, Kentucky
3. Zach Bennett, Michigan State
4. Connor Sparrow, 21, Creighton
5. Paul Blanchette, 21, Loyola Marymount
6. Ryan Herman, 22, Washington
1. Joshua Yaro *#, 21, Georgetown
2. Jonathan Campbell, 22, UNC
3. Kyle Fisher, 21, Clemson
4. Thomas Libiih, 20, Cameroonian Youth International
5. Cole Seiler, 21, Georgetown
6. Zachary Carroll, 21, Michigan State
7. Vincent Keller, 23, Creighton
8. Liam Doyle, 23, Ohio State
9. Tony Alfaro, 22, CSU- Dominguez Hills
10. Antonio Mattarazo ^, 22, Columbia
1. Brandon Vincent, 21, Stanford
2. Jordan McCrary *, 22, UNC
3. Josh Turnley, 22, Georgetown
4. Justin Bilyeu, 21, SIU
5. Elias José Gomez, 21, Rosario Central (Argentina)
1. Joshua Yaro *#, 21, Georgetown
2. Keegan Rosenberry, 22, Georgetown
3. Dennis Castillo, 22, VCU
4. Jordan McCrary *, 22, UNC
5. Emir Alihodzic, 22, Omaha
1. Julian Buescher #, 22, Syracuse,
2. Todd Wharton, 21, Virginia
3. James Moberg, 21, Washington
4. Jake Rozhansky, 19, Virginia (draft status debatable)
5. Ben Strong, 22, Louisville
6. Eric Verso *, 23, Standford
7. Zachary Mathews, 21, Duke
8. Sean Sheridan ^*, 21, Villanova
9. Vincent Mitchell, 22, Butler
10. Paul Clowes, 22, Clemson
1. Jack Harrison #, 19, Wake Forest
2. Omar Holness *#, 21, UNC
3. Richie Laryea #, 20, Akron
4. Patrick Hodan, 22, Notre Dame
5. Timo Pitter, 23, Creighton,
6. Amass Amankona, Dayton
1. Femi Hollinger-Janzen *, 22, Indiana
2. Michael Gamble *, 21, Wake Forest
3. Darius Madison, 21, UMBC
4. Sean Sheridan ^*, 21, Villanova
5. Josh Heard, 21, Washington
6. Chase Minter, 23, Cal Poly
1. Michael Salazar, 23, UC-Riverside
2. Michael Gamble*, 21, Wake Forest
3. Eric Verso *, 23, Stanford
4. Hadji Barry, 23, Central Florida
5. Cole Missimo, Northwestern
6. T.J. Casner, 21, Clemson
1. Fabian Herbers #, 22, Creighton
2. Ben Polk, 23, Syracuse
3. Omar Holness *#, 21, UNC
4. Femi Hollinger-Janzen *, 22, Indiana
5. Thomas Sanner, 21, Princeton
6. Keegan Smith, 22, San Diego