MLS conducted the first two rounds of its 2017 SuperDraft in Los Angeles on Friday, and the final two rounds will take place via teleconference on Tuesday. This means soccer fans across North America are getting their first introductions to players that will be filling out USL rosters next season. Yes, USL rosters. If 2017 resembles 2016, players selected in the SuperDraft are less likely to get playing time in MLS than with the MLS’s D2 partner.
Seventy-five players were selected in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft:
- 7 of them only saw action in MLS.
- Only 10 played more minutes in MLS than the USL.
- 54 of them got onto the field in a USL regular season match.
- The MLS draft class of 2016 played only 17,423 minutes in MLS, compared to 53,271 minutes in the USL
Little wonder that some in the soccer community have renamed the draft as the USL SuperDraft.
As can be seen in the chart, compiled from both league sites, players selected in the first round of the 2016 SuperDraft played saw the most playing time MLS. Players from all four rounds, however, got significant minutes in USL.
There is difference between the first and second days of the SuperDraft with respect to the amount of time players get in the USL. That difference is the mechanism by which the players arrive at USL clubs. Early round selections primarily get to USL clubs through loans, benefiting MLS reserve teams and affiliates. Late round selections are usually signed by USL clubs after not reaching an agreement with the MLS club that drafted them, benefiting reserve teams and independents.
With the trend likely to continue, fans of USL teams should pay attention to the 2017 SuperDraft to learn some of the names of players you will be supporting this upcoming season. You can be sure USL General Managers and Technical Directors are doing the same.