By Michael Lewis
CHICAGO — On Friday, about a dozen or two players will walk up to the podium in the Skyline Ballroom at McCormick Place and say it is a dream come true to be selected by a Major League Soccer team. These players will thank their family, coaches, friends and even a deity for this special moment.
And then there is a good chance you might not necessarily hear such words from them again as many of them will struggle to break into the lineup, the 18 or remain on the team.
Welcome to MLS reality to American players.
With more teams developing their own players — Homegrown Players — and more venturing to Europe, the draft has become less important in terms of building a team. That probably goes double for a league in which some teams start an average of three American players a match.
Like it or not, the so-called SuperDraft has lived out its usefulness There is talk of the league getting rid of its combine. If that is the case, is the so-called SuperDraft that far behind?
The Philadelphia Union obviously thought so, at least for 2019.
On Wednesday, the team sent its all five of its draft picks to expansion franchise FC Cincinnati for $200,000 in General Allocation Money. For the record, the selections were Nos. 13, 29, 37, 61 and 85. That was unprecedented in the 24-year history of the league.
Union sporting director Ernst Tanner explained why.
“When evaluating how we want to build our roster for the 2019 season and beyond, we decided that acquiring this money is the best use of our SuperDraft resources,” he said. “Not only will we look to continue both signing Union Academy products for the first team and Bethlehem Steel FC, as well as attracting young talent from abroad, we believe that this sum of money will help us complete crucial signings ahead of the upcoming campaign.”
And Cincy? Well, being an expansion team means it needs players, even if it means stocking its United Soccer League affiliate.
And about that name, the SuperDraft.
At one time, the MLS held a SuperDraft and the word super meant something because the draft included the selection of not only college performers from ones from USL clubs.
These days, it’s just about college players.
That’s fine, but there’s nothing super about that.