The 2023 MLS SuperDraft was an eventful one for Orlando City, which saw them trade up to the second overall pick, adding to the three selections they already had.
In total, the Lions walked away from the draft with two forwards and two defenders.
With that trade up to the 2nd overall pick, Orlando selected forward Shakur Mohammed from Duke University. Mohammed is also a Generation Adidas player, meaning he will not count against the Lions’ salary cap.
In his two seasons at Duke, the forward scored 13 goals and added nine assists in 37 games played. He was named a MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist while also being named First Team All-American, the ACC Offensive Player of the Year, and All-South Region First Team in just his sophomore year.
“This is amazing. It’s literally a dream come true for me to be able to share this moment with my host family and my family back home,” Mohammed said, following the pick, “This is unbelievable, it’s what you dream of, and to finally know it’s happening, it’s unbelievable.”
With the 6th overall pick, the Lions continued the attacking trend by selecting forward Duncan McGuire from Creighton.
McGuire was one of the best offensive players in college soccer in 2022, winning the NCAA Golden Boot & is a Mac Hermann trophy finalist (the winner will be announced in January). The forward had 23 goals in 24 games for Creighton.
“I’ve had this dream since I was five,” McGuire said, “I’ve always believed in it and now that it’s becoming a reality, it’s it’s kind of hard to wrap your head around, but I’m definitely excited and I’m excited to get started.”
The final two picks that Orlando selected were Abdi Salim from the National Championship side Syracuse with the 17th overall pick, and Luis Grassow from Kentucky with the 46th overall pick. Both players are primarily centerbacks, but have the ability to play as fullbacks as well.
Salim started his college career at Division III Buffalo State before transferring to Syracuse. In 2022, he started all 22 games for the eventual National Champions, playing a part in a defense that allowed only 16 goals all season. The Nairobi, Kenya native moved to Buffalo, New York at four years old, growing up playing soccer in the US.
Grassow joins the Lions with some professional experience under his belt already, having played in the fourth tier of German football. The Munich native started 56 of the 59 games he played in over three seasons, scoring six goals and adding five assists. The senior was named Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year as well as named to the Sun Belt First-Team Conference team and Sun Belt Conference All-Tournament team. He was also named 1st team All-American for NCAA Division I following the 2022 season.
Here’s what Orlando City EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi had to say about the draft
“It was a great draft. I think that our group in preparation did a fantastic job and have been analyzing everything for the last four, five, six months. We had four guys that we had in our top 20, and we were able to get all of them. We had to make some moves, but we’re extremely happy and excited with the players we got in the draft.”
Head Coach Oscar Pareja also commented on the club’s draft picks
“We’re very proud of the work our scouting department has done on tracking all these guys during the year and we were very sure about the needs of the team and also what was in our desired list. So, we’re happy to bring these young guys to the club and then to refresh, and I know people are gonna love them as young athletes that are hungry to come and succeed in Orlando.
Hometown: Kumasi, Ghana
Hometown: Omaha, NE
Hometown: Buffalo, NY
Hometown: Munich, Germany
For more up-to-date stories, follow the Soccer Journal on Twitter: @OSJSoccer