The first two rounds of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft will take place via conference call on Thursday. As it currently stands, the Seattle Sounders will sit out the first round, which will be covered and analyzed by ESPN and MLSsoccer.com — having traded their first round pick (26th overall) to the Chicago Fire in exchange for Stefan Cleveland and Chicago’s second round pick (35th overall). Unless they trade draft picks for some reason, the Sounders will have zero picks in the first round, the 9th pick (35th overall) and the 26th pick (52nd overall) of the second round, and the 26th (78th overall) in the third round. They traded their fourth round pick to the Chicago Fire in exchange for Jonathan Campbell following the 2018 season.
Not since Garth Lagerway struck relative gold in 2015 — when he nabbed Cristian Roldan, Tyler Miller, Oniel Fisher and Charlie Lyon — have the Sounders found an impact player through the MLS SuperDraft, and they’ve struggled to even find regular contributors to the first team. Strangely, there’s not a single player the Sounders have drafted in the four subsequent drafts currently signed to a MLS contract (Alex Roldan is probably the most likely to end up on one at some point this year). In the years since 2015, the Sounders haven had the last or second-to-last pick of each round three times, never picking earlier than the 15th pick in 2016, which makes finding contributors more difficult. With their only picks coming in the second and third rounds, we can expect them to look for players to help fill out and solidify Tacoma Defiance, as they did with Joel Rydstrand and Aleks Berkolds in 2019 — neither of whom are with the organization any longer.
There are a few players who spent their college careers playing in the Sounders backyard, which might warrant some consideration given their increased familiarity to the organization.
- Jaret Townsend, a midfielder from Colorado, played for four years under Jamie Clark at the University of Washington. Townsend had his best season as a senior in 2019 when he scored 7 goals and added 1 assist as he managed career highs in starts and appearances (14 and 21, respectively) while the Huskies played to a semi-final loss to Georgetown in the NCAA College Cup.
- Julian Avila-Good is a Seattle University midfielder from Winnipeg, Manitoba whose goal and assist production was largely modest with career highs of goals and assists coming in 2018 when he notched 3 goals and 4 assists, but showed an impressive durability by starting all 23 games for Seattle.
- Nkosi Burgess moved to SU after playing at UConn for three seasons. The 6-foot-4 centerback was named WAC Defender of the Year after a strong season, and has been projected as a first round pick, possibly going as early as 10th overall.
If none of those players strike the team’s fancy or are on the board when the Sounders are picking, they could look the way of a couple of guys coming out of Oregon who are eligible for the draft.
- Eric Diaz from Oregon State University is a quick and technical fullback or wingback who could be a decent backup to Kelvin Leerdam.
- Rey Ortiz is an attacking midfielder from University of Portland who spent time in the LA Galaxy Academy before heading to college. He had a pretty solid 2019, contributing 3 goals and 7 assists in 16 appearances, but teams looking at him in the draft may be enticed by the promise of his 6 goal and 13 assist performance in 2017.
While the number of players in the draft with Pacific Northwest ties may be somewhat limited, there are a number of guys who spent some time with the Sounders Academy who wrapped up their college eligibility, but aren’t on MLS’s draft-eligible list, and could find their way into the Sounders preseason training camp. Connor Noblat and Kees Westra, a forward and defender, spent all four years at SU, while Harrison Kurtz spent the last two there after the midfielder had played the previous two years at Clemson. 2019 saw John Magnus and Ryan DeGroot wrap up their eligibility at UW. Magnus is a midfielder who was a near constant for the Huskies, starting in each of his 20 appearances. DeGroot was a midfielder with the Sounders Academy, but has moved back a line in college. DeGroot never quite cemented a place with the Huskies, but could be helpful in a system with a preference for ball-playing centerbacks.
One way or another, the Sounders are sure to come out of this week with at least a couple new guys joining them in training camp. Who do you think they should target? Is there anyone you wish had been listed here?