The 2021 SuperDraft features several changes compared to last year. The pandemic means the draft experience will be entirely virtual rather than having the first round produced as a TV experience in a central location. There is no longer a second day with rounds 3 and 4 — in fact there’s no longer a Round 4 (although four teams have a total of five picks after the end of the third round this year).
Seattle Sounders FC will not pick until 80th, and don’t really have assets to trade up. Their limited cash resources will need to be focused on starting-caliber talent rather than college prospects. As a reminder, they traded away their 2021 first-round pick for Roman Torres. The Vancouver Whitecaps have Seattle’s second round pick — thanks for that international slot back in 2019.
With a pick so low and the emerging history of selecting PASS by so many teams, Garth Lagerwey could have the honor of selecting Mr. Irrelevant, the last athlete chosen.
So why would you watch the 2021 MLS SuperDraft (Thursday, Jan 21, 11 AM PT, MLSsoccer.com)? There are several Puget Sound soccer connections. A couple of them could wind up playing at Lumen or Cheney this season, even with that poor draft position.
The UW Husky centerback just inked a Generation adidas deal with MLS, one of only five in 2021. It is almost certain that Lagerwey & Co. rate Bartlow. He’s in the backyard of the club, played for their Academy rivals, was recruited to the academy and every other Husky GA player is one that Seattle wanted — the last two are now Sounders, even.
But, it’s unlikely that Seattle trades up for Ethan. He’s showing up in the top 4 picks in most mock drafts and big boards. With centerback being Seattle’s deepest position group, they don’t need to give up the resources to get the local kid.
Still, it’s good to remind yourself that Puget Sound produces so many soccer talents. Crossfire and the Sounders Academy, and even the other youth programs, continue to pump out talent well beyond what a region our size should. Bartlow is the next of those and won’t be the last.
Of the three Sounders Academy products available in the draft, Ragen is the best of them. A powerful centerback who plays thick and harsh, he is HGP eligible, as are the other two.
Jackson spent three years playing at Michigan, earning All Big Ten First Team in his junior year, the last one prior to the pandemic. With nearly 5,000 minutes played in three years, he was a key component of their squads.
If he falls out of the first round, Seattle may try to talk him into withdrawing from the draft and offer him a Homegrown Player deal or maybe a Defiance contract.
This quirk makes sense for the player and team, because first round picks that sign contracts make the veteran minimum rather than the reserve minimum, a difference of tens of thousands of dollars.
Rothrock started his college career at Notre Dame and then transferred to Georgetown for the 2019 season. In the Academy, he was seen as a potential No. 10, but in college has developed more into a threatening winger who dishes off late. As a junior at powerhouse Georgetown he had four goals and seven assists.
Paul is projected anywhere from the mid-second round to going undrafted. He could wind up like Paul Christensen as a Sounders Academy product drafted by another team, or like Kyle Bjornethun, drafted by Seattle and attempting to make the roster with Seattle. Both Christensen and Bjornethun remain pros.
Oregon State utility player Hafferty is the lowest rated of the three Academy products, though some see him going as high as the second round. Joseph is a Renton product (s’up!) who can play left back, centerback, d-mid, and left wing.
That versatility could have a lot of appeal for an MLS team with a short bench that needs a Jimmy Medranda-type on the roster. The lower upside, but high level of flexibility is a value that low-round draftees can fill.
If Hafferty goes undrafted he absolutely should be in Seattle’s training camp, because the roster has the very holes he could fill.
Mock Drafts and Big Boards
MLSs and TopDrawerSoccer both lean on no-relation Travis Clark.