Don Garber isn’t about to give up on the MLS SuperDraft just yet. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
CHICAGO — Don’t bury the MLS SuperDraft just yet.
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said Friday that the annual right of selecting college players will continue for the foreseeable future.
Given that the best players have been signed as Homegrown Players and others have ventured to Europe, the cream of the crop of college players has dwindled over the years.
“I keep hearing and read a bit about the value of the SuperDraft today vs. years ago,” Garber said during the first and second rounds of the 2019 draft at McCormick Place Friday afternoon. “As I listen to some of these young men growing up and wanting to play in our league and dreaming about that as a young player, whether that are kids growing up here in our country or in other parts of the world, it makes me feel that much stronger that there is an important role for this draft.”
Garber was talking the players’ enthusiastic public responses to being drafted.
“It’s just a matter of trying to figure out where these players can get the right opportunity and how we evolve as a league to ensure that young players can build their careers in Major League Soccer,” he said.
“I’ll finish my comments of what will be the first question and what will be the future of the draft. In my view and I’ll be the commissioner for a couple of years, I’m a big believer in it.”
So, the draft will go on at the 2020 convention in Baltimore and at the 2021 event in Anaheim.
Garber said he spoke to an owner who was involved in the league’s product strategy committee, adding that the owner’s views were similar to his.
“There will be always a role for young players that are developed in our academies, who are not purchased from abroad to have an opportunity to play in Major League Soccer,” he said. “That’s what today is all about.”
Asked whether he thought the league should take an active role in changing the structure of NCAA soccer so players could be better positioned to play professionally, Garber replied, “It’s really a function more of the U.S. Soccer Federation. I believe like all of us it’s very difficult to have a young man come out of college or young woman come out of college, playing under a different set of rules and different substitution rules and playing in a different season and expect them to come out at that age and be able to step onto the field.”