How Orlando City could best utilize the No. 3 pick in Friday’s MLS SuperDraft


Orlando City SC vs Seattle Sounders, October 18, 2018- Orlando, FL, USA Photo: J.D. Casto

It’s hardly as exciting as the NFL Draft, even less so than colleges drafts held by the NBA or MLB, and probably even the NHL. But the MLS SuperDraft has it’s own sort of spunk.

Held annually in conjunction with the United Soccer Coaches Convention, this year’s SuperDraft in Chicago will serve as just another mechanism for some teams to fill out a spot on their roster. If they get lucky, the players they select may not just help the team this season, but maybe even next season. After that, the odds aren’t great.

After finishing with the second worst record in the league last season, Orlando City heads into the draft with the 3rd overall selection. It’ll be the Lions’ fourth top-10 selection since entering the league — following Cyle Larin (No. 1 overall, 2015), Richie Laryea (No. 7 overall, 2016), and Chris Mueller (No. 6 overall, 2018). History, draft picks haven’t lasted very long in Orlando. To date, Mueller is the only SuperDraft pick still with the club.

As Orlando City heads into this year’s draft, the club is looking at every possible way to go about with the No. 3 pick, as EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi explained during his media round table on Monday talking about the approach to the draft.

“The answer is different depending on your actual pick,” Muzzi said. “At number three, depending on what your specific need, that specific need may be available at 10 and it’s maybe a little bit of a stretch at three. I’m not saying this is the case. I’m saying that three, four, five, those are kind of – ‘What do we do with that?’ We’re exploring everything. We’re exploring best available. We’re exploring need, because we have needs that we’re going to have to go to the draft for those needs.

“Now are those needs available at 10 instead of three, four, or five? That’s the analysis that we’re going through right now. At three, I would say that you have to go with best available. You have a chance to get somebody who can really be a difference maker in the long run, not necessarily right away.”

So what can Orlando do with that 3rd overall pick?

Trade the pick

Like Muzzi said, the Lions could explore the option of trading the pick, which could bring in some assets and put them in a position to select a player that maybe they value, but don’t want to reach when that player could still be available with a later pick.

According to Ives Galarcep, multiple top-5 teams have been looking to trade down. While he didn’t say Orlando was one of them, given Muzzi’s comments it certainly doesn’t rule out the club from being in that discussion.

As Galarcep notes, this draft isn’t strong enough to make teams go crazy for that 3rd overall pick, so if the Lions do trade out of it, don’t expect any earth-shattering return.

Fill a need

Orlando City sure does have a lot of needs, don’t they? While there’s probably no Cyle Larin-type player that’s going to run the league from year one in this draft, there are still some high-quality players to choose from that could possibly help Orlando both short-term and long-term.

There are a few good forward options at the top of this draft class that Orlando could look towards to help fix a thin spot on the field, a problem that showed heavily last season when Dom Dwyer was the only viable scoring options up top, and when he was shut down it made things a lot tougher for the Lions.

Tajon Buchanan and J.J, Williams, both Generation Adidas players (meaning they won’t count against the budget), are two players that look very attractive in that respect. Williams would likely see some time with Orlando City B while he gets his feet wet in the pro game, but long-term could be someone that pairs up well with or behind Dwyer. With Buchanan, the Lions could find themselves taking someone that would provide them with talent and effectiveness on the wings, another area that could use some attention.

VCU’s Siad Haji (Generation Adidas) is another attacking player with the skill and potential that could make an impact in Orlando’s attack. Additionally, Orlando-born Santiago Patino could finally see his way to Orlando if the Lions do drop and have the option to grab him. Patino a) fills a need at forward, and b) has already tried to sign with Orlando City in the past — and having a local kid that wants to be there is always a plus.

If the Lions choose to go with a defender — another pretty big area of need — Charlotte defender Callum Montgomery is a name garnering plenty of high praise. The one drawback of this pick would be that he’s without the Generation Adidas tag, but if your team really has a need for a defender, then it shouldn’t be hard to overlook.

Best available

The Lions don’t really need another creative playmaker in the midfield with Sacha Kljestan and Josue Colman in that department, but if you’re going with the best available player, then Frankie Amaya (Generation Adidas) would likely be the best available at No. 3 if he’s still there after Cincinnati and San Jose. He’s a u-20 standout, arguably one of, if not the, top players in the draft. He’s got the tools to be a stud.

(Photo Courtesy of J.D. Castro)

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