Late in 2023, MLS got a little weird announcing that the 2024 SuperDraft – which takes place on December 19th of 2023 – will have an expanded player pool with sophomores and juniors eligible as well as seniors.
Old-school 3rd Degree followers will know I used to do rankings for the entire draft class. With the decreasing value of the draft (and my real job workload), I gave that up years ago.
But I still have some thoughts on how FCD should attack the draft. I also have some notes on a few players in the pool that came out of FC Dallas or DFW.
Frankly, the player pool itself might be fascinating this time in terms of who is in it. What former Academy players from various clubs are up for grabs or protected? What underclassmen come out?
The Rule Changes
- Sophomores and Juniors can be draft-eligible if submitted.
- Drafted players can return to school but, if picked, the MLS team holds their MLS rights for 2 years.
So this particular draft might see a bunch of younger talent in one lump.
FC Dallas, picking 15th in each round, might have a better shot to come out with a player in the first round at that pick than they might have in a couple of years.
We’re also looking at the transition gap between the new Academy territory tagging rule (9 players outside your Academy) and the old territory rule (everyone in your backyard). I’ll explain more about this change if, or when, I feel I need to.
General FCD 2024 Strategy
In the first round, FC Dallas should go in with the idea of getting a center back. One that can make the bottom of the first team (they need three CBs). Depending on the pool they might want to trade up and get one or sit tight at 15.
They should also be ready to take anyone who might help if the CB just isn’t there like they did with Tsiki Ntsabeleng or Herbert Endeley. The ole’ Best Available thing.
I even have a specific center back in mind for FCD: Wake’s Garrison Tubbs, ACC DOY, 1st Team All-American. Unfortunately, I found out he’s an Atlanta United product.
Does ATL want him? Is he even in the draft? They did. He signed as a Homegrown.
There are four FCD Academy center backs in the college ranks that I find interesting in terms of eventual Homegrown potential. I don’t think any of the four are ready yet though to help FCD. They can play in college a bit more. But here are the names: Grady Easton (St Louis), Josh Ramsey (Notre Dame), Slade Starnes (Furman), and Will Baker (Michigan). None of them are in the draft pool.
2nd Round and on, despite what they say, FCD will pretty much be picking for North Texas SC. Diamonds in the Rough is the goal. Normally, you hope you hit a home run on a shot in the dark. But there just might be more talent here than before because of the new eligibility rule. Might we see them go for underclassmen to develop?
FCD also likes to draft seniors out of their own Academy they don’t want to burn a Homegrown deal on but they feel have some upside to develop. A guy they can sign to NTX who would be eligible for a homegrown deal if he eventually hits. I have two candidates down at the bottom of this article.
Interesting Local Territory Players
Let’s talk about a couple DFW but non-FCD kids who might be in the pool. By which I mean kids from the area worth picking. For the most part, this means kids from Solar.
I tried to come up with some Dallas Texans, DKSCs, BVB, or anything else and came up blank. I am no longer a draft expert, if I missed someone let me know.
These DFW players can’t be signed by other MLS teams because they are from FCD’s territory (the old rule) and they can’t be Homegrowns for FC Dallas cause they never played for the FCD Academy.
However, if FCD were to draft them they can be signed like any other player. If someone else drafts them, they have to trade with FCD for their rights.
Yes, I know it’s stupid. That’s why they changed this rule.
Bottom line, I have three kids on my list from Solar with a potential pro future and all are underclassmen who could be in the pool.
Baily Sparks – Attacking Mid, SMU, Junior
Update: Sparks is in the SuperDraft pool.
Sparks left Solar to join Sporting KC’s Academy for one year and played for Sporting KC II. But he couldn’t sign a pro deal for them because of the territory rule so he went to SMU. Named AAC Midfielder of the Year and 2nd Team All-American this season with a 2-goal, 5-assist season.
Plus, he’s 6′ tall. Which would be a big help for FC Short.
This kid got done hard by the territory rule. He should have been on someone’s MLS Next Pro team or an FCD homegrown if he would have joined them for that one year instead of Sporting, rather than be in college.
He would fit into the false-wing, free-8 vibe FCD likes. Talented kid.
Jackson Castro – Left Midfielder/Wing, Creighton, Junior
Update: Castro is in the SuperDraft pool.
Castro has the soccer lineage as both his father and uncle were professional soccer players. 1st Team All-Big East. Over three seasons, 56 games, 46 starts, 13 goals, 15 assists.
At 5’8″ he’d fit in well with FC Short.
Bryce Boneau – Midfielder, Notre Dame, RS Junior
Update: Boneau is in the SuperDraft pool.
Solar product, played one ECNL year with FCD so he could play high school soccer and was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. He heavily influences the game without heavy stats. 3rd Team All-Big East with 4 goals and 6 assists in 14 games.
I saw him playing for Texas United last summer and I think he’s electric, I love his game.
Drafting Ex-FC Academy Seniors
Now we come to the fun of picking up players who came out of your own Academy. These are kids the club might like but not as Homegrowns.
FCD could pick them to hold their MLS rights past their end of college eligibility (and the end of the territory rights) so they can potentially sign them to a North Texas SC deal.
Malik Henry-Scott – Forward, Tulsa, Senior
Update: Henry-Scott is NOT in the SuperDraft pool. Going back to school? Why is he not listed? Hopefully, because he’s going to sign with NTX as a free agent.
Update 2: Now we know who he wasn’t in the pool. It’s because FCD was signing him to a Homegrown contract.
Now on the surface, you might scoff at his 2023 with just 7 games played before injury. But in those 7 games, he had 4 goals. For his career at Tulsa, 48 games, 44 starts, 17 goals, and 7 assists as a wing or 9. I love his progression at Tulsa and he was coming on as a force as a senior.
But more importantly, this kid is a serious athlete. I think he might have had the best body control I’ve ever seen in the FCD Academy. He’s the old brother of FCD’s most recent Homegrown Tarik Scott. Malik has a bunch of potential and I’d like to see him get a shot here with FCD.
Michael Collodi – Goalkeeper, Columbia, Senior
Update: Collodi is NOT in the SuperDraft pool. But if they wanted him they could sign him to NTX as a free agent.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Collodi is just finishing his 4th year of play at Columbia despite being a 2001.
“Only” 6 feet tall but a fantastic shot-stopper with power. Smart kid and a good leader. Career stats: 58 games with a 1.47 GAA but a much more impressive 73.6% save pct. (Columbia doesn’t win a lot of games). 2nd Team All-Ivy this year. Former US U14 and U16. Played in the Roja league with Premier Legends.
Depending on what happens with Julian Eyestone and a Homegrown deal, Collodi could be worth a grab for North Texas SC.
Other FC Dallas Academy Players in Draft Pool
Kevin Bonilla – Portland RB (he’s on my FCD college homegrown list.)
Christian Escribano – Wake Forest RB, RS Junior. 46 games, 43 starts, 6 assists.
Camilo Estrada – Northern Illinois CM, Senior. 60 games, 39 starts, 8 goals, 2 assists.
Diego Maynez – Norther Illinois CM, Senior. 60 games, 40 starts, 8 goals, 5 assists.
Ayden Nocus – Louisville CM, Senior. 16 games, 1 start, 1 goals, 2 assists.