Charlotte FC gave up $450,000 in allocation money to move up from 20 to 1 to select first overall for the second year in a row. Charlotte FC took my tenth best player first overall and Charlotte FC only has one International roster slot left, so they are using it on Hamady Diop.
Charlotte FC is a tough team to project. Charlotte FC runs a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Charlotte FC has Enzo Copetti who scored 11 goals with Racing Club at striker. Last years striker, Karol Swiderski is gonna move to one of Charlotte FC's two attacking midfielder roles complimenting Ben Bender after leading Charlotte FC with 10 goals last year. Yordy Renya will start at left winger and Andre Shinyashiki will start at right winger. Kamil Jozwiak is the backup left winger. Quinn McNeil and Daniel Rios give Charlotte FC good depth at attacking midfielder. Swiderski will probably move to striker if Enzo Copetti gets injured.
Brandt Bonico remains the starting defensive midfielder. Joseph Mora is the starting left back. Anton Walkes and Guzman Corujo remain the starting center backs with Jaylin Lindsey starting at right back. Charlotte FC has Adam Armour for depth at left back, Christian Fuchs for depth at center back, Jan Sobocinski for depth at center back, and Harrison Afful as the backup right back.
Charlotte FC has three goalies. Kristijan Kalania is the starting goalie. Pablo Sisniega is the backup goalie. George Marks, Charlotte FC's 2022 third round pick out of Clemson is the third string goalie.
Charlotte FC has a lot of depth on the back line and at goalie. Getting depth at defensive midfielder, right winger, and striker if you want to keep Karol Swiderski at attacking midfielder are the three biggest needs for Charlotte FC.
The 6-0 186 lb Hamady Diop helped Clemson record 10 shutouts at center back on Clemson's Championship team in 2021. Hamady Diop lost his center back teammate Oskar Agren, a Hermann Trophy Finalist in 2021 to the 2022 MLS Super Draft and still helped Clemson score 2 goals, 4 points, and was part of a defense that recorded 9 shutouts in 2022. Diop also had 2 yellow cards and 1 red card in 2022 while still logging a respectable 1,034 minutes played after missing a month of the College Soccer season with an injury. Hamady Diop was the final player to get a Generation Adidas offer after a great showing at the 2022 MLS College Showcase.
Hamady Diop was my tenth best player on my 2023 MLS Super Draft Big Board. He's not the guy with the highest ceiling, but you can argue he's the most consistent center back in the 2023 MLS Super Draft. He's a much better prospect than Robbie Robinson who went first overall to Inter Miami C.F. back in 2020. That's why the worst grade I can give Charlotte FC here is a B grade.
Hamady Diop is a guy who will come in and make an instant impact with Charlotte FC. Will he be a difference maker from day 1? Time will tell. He was my third best center back in terms of his potential, but he's a lot more consistent in terms of generating shutouts then either Joey Akpunonu or Moises Bombito. He also played on a team that won the 2021 College Cup pitching a 2-0 shutout against Washington in the Championship game.
While the pick felt like a reach, this seleciton is also not a pick I would give Charlotte FC crap for. Charlotte FC gave up $450,000 in Allocation money to move up from 20 to 1 for Hamady Diop. Diop's most impressive game this season was in the 2022 ACC Tourament where 8 seed Clemson knocked out an undefeated Duke team in a 2-0 road win that was the number one seed in the ACC Tournament despite only playing 58 minutes in that contest. Hamady Diop scored the lone goal for Clemson in the 2022 College Cup in a game where UCLA defeated the 2021 College Cup Champions 2-1.
Syracuse swept Clemson in 2022, but Diop missed the first game against Syracuse in the regular season with an injury when Syracuse defeated Clemson 2-1. Syracuse defeated Clemson to win the 2022 ACC Championship, but Diop kept both Nathan Opoku and Lavonte Johnson from scoring in the 2022 ACC Championship game despite Syracuse defeating Clemson 2-0 to win the 2022 ACC Championship after missing the regular season meeting with an injury. That's why the worst grade I can give Charlotte FC here is a B grade even if people felt like this pick was a reach at 1 since it was still a way better selection in terms of value than Robbie Robinson who went first overall back in 2020 because Robinson was making dirty plays against Stanford in the elite 8 and got away with way more then he should have.
Unlike Robinson, Hamady Diop performed at a high level when fully healthy this season, and an arguement can be made for him at 1 because of the level of competition he played in the ACC this season. I'm not taking anything away from the other two center backs in the 2023 MLS Super Draft, but Diop faced Nathan Opoku, Levonte Johnson, Shakur Mohammed, Valentin Noel, and Shakur Mohammed dealing with five forwards that were talented enough to go in the top 20 of the 2023 MLS Super Draft. Opoku would have gone in the top 3 had he chose to enter the Super Draft, but he is going to play professionally elsewhere with an announcement on Opoku in the coming days.
I am currently rewatching the Clemson VS Pittsburgh soccer game I recorded. Diop played in that game. I may bump this grade up from a B to either a B+ or A- depending on what I see in that game since Diop did well enough in big games for me to consider bumping his grade up.
Hamady Diop went 18/20 on passes in the first half against Pittsburgh when passing the soccer ball to teammates. Diop had 1 interception on a header as well. The two passes he failed to complete to teammates resulted in turnovers where Pittsburgh intercepted Clemson. Diop also got called with a handball, but it was clear that the ball hit his right shoulder and that the ball never touched his hand. Diop has the speed to transition from defense to offense as well as the passing. Hamady Diop looked like Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner on Stefon Diggs when blanketing Valentin Noel in the first half. Diop had three plays in the first half on defense where I questioned his decision making on defense as far as diving too early, not being aggressive enough, or just plays where his timing was slightly off on a play.
As far as overall performance goes, the good plays from Hamady Diop outweighed the bad plays in spades since Clemson entered the second half with a 1-0 lead over Pittsburgh. I saw enough from Hamady Diop in the first half to bump this grade up from a B to a B+ grade, but what he does in the second half will determine if this pick gets a B+ or an A- grade.
Hamady Diop began the first minute of the second half transitioning from the 5 at center back to the 2 at right back. Diop may have versatility to play both center back and right back in the MLS making him more versatile then either Joey Akpunonu or Moise Bombito. Also when Valentin Noel knocked him on the ground, he stayed calm. Diop displayed enough composure not to retaliate, but he was clearly unhappy about that play. That kind of composure and non reactiveness under pressure is exactly what MLS teams want to see from a number one pick.
Early in the second half, Filip Mirkovic delivered an accurate pass to Valentin Noel where Noel got separation on Hamady Diop. Valentin Noel scored on that play and that was a play where Diop was partially responsible for the only goal Pittsburgh scored on Clemson.
Hamady Diop showed the ability to transition from the 4 at sweeper to the 3 at left back a few minutes later. He communicated on ten different occasions in the contest between Clemson and Pittsburgh. I admired how Diop communicated on nine of those plays. In the eightieth minute, Diop kept making hand gestures at teammates when a Pittsburgh defender got a shot near Clemson's goalie after he missed an assignment.
Hamady Diop got even with Noel after Noel pushed him in the first minute of the second half. In the 84th minute Diop gently pushed Noel knocking Noel on the ground. Pitt fans were upset no foul was called, but Noel got himself back up by doing pushups while Diop showed the ability to knock a forward on his rear end if he needs to. Diop kept neutralizing Valentin Noel from that point forward intercepting Noel with his foot in the 87th minute. Diop played all 90 minutes for Clemson in this game for the third time on the season despite the referee screwing Pittsburgh out of a free kick in the final minute with eleven seconds left in regulation. Before this game against Pittsburgh, Diop only had two starts where he played all 90 minutes in the season opener on August 26th, 2022 and a contest against North Carolina on October 3rd 2022.
Hamady Diop finished Clemson's 1-1 tie against Pittsburgh 23/26 on passes while recording 2 interceptions with one interception on a header and the other interception with his foot. On his three incomplete passes he had two turnovers which resulted in interceptions for Pittsburgh as well as a pass out of bounds. Diop finished his season at Clemson with 2 yellow cards against Wake Forest and Notre Dame while Diop got one red card against Virginia which led him to being suspended for Clemson's 3-1 win against Massachusetts which is most likely a shutout if Diop isn't suspended for that game.
Diop showed the versatility to play the 2 at right back, the 3 at left back, the 4 at sweeper, and the 5 at center back when watching his game film against Pittsburgh. Hamady Diop was the most versatile center back in the 2023 MLS Super Draft despite grading out as my third best center back.
Bowling Green center back Joey Akpunonu checked off the most boxes which is why he was my top graded center back. New Hampshire center back Moise Bombito, my favorite tackler and defender of this trio. Clemson center back Hamady Diop was the most versatile of those three defensemen and you can argue that played a role in Charlotte FC taking him first overall since Diop had the toughest schedule of those three. All three of these center backs earned Generation Adidas offers and all three had a case for being the first center back drafted despite the fact that Diop was graded out as my third best center back in the 2023 MLS Super Draft.
Hamady Diop may be the best fit for what Charlotte FC wants to do despite entering the 2023 MLS Super Draft. However, Diop also was responsible for Pittsburgh's only goal on Clemson where Noel scored.
Charlotte FC has good starters and backups on their backline at left back, center back, and right back. Charlotte FC has both left backs back, three of their four center backs back, and one right back returning next season in 2023.
Backup center back Christian Fuchs and backup right back Harrison Afful are both Free Agents on December 31, 2022 with both of those guys in their thirties. I believe Hamady Diop will occupy a roster spot on Charlotte FC in the MLS next season where he will be the number four center back on Charlotte FC's depth chart as well as the backup right back to Jaylin Lindsey to begin the season. Jaylin Lindsey did well in 2022 starting at right back, but only started 18 games at right back with his final start of the regular season on August 27, 2022 with Harrison Afful starting the other 15 games. Charlotte FC's two best right backs started 33 of the teams 34 games.
Jaylin Lindsey did well at right back early in the season starting 12 consecutive games where he played all 90 minutes in nine of those twelve starts, but Lindsey only started six more games after May 22, 2022 when he was benched for Harrison Afful. My verdict is that Lindsey did enough to retain the starting right back job in 2023. However, Lindsey didn't dominate to the point where you could say he's the long-term answer at right back either since he started less than 20 MLS games despite having a good season when fully healthy.
Looking at Charlotte FC's roster, there's a window of opportunity for Hamady Diop to emerge as the starting right back at some point in 2023 if Lindsey gets benched or injured next season. There's no guarantee Diop becomes the starting right back either since Diop played all 90 minutes in eight of his thirteen starts at Clemson, but at the same token Charlotte FC has three of their center backs under contract until 2024 meaning that if Diop ends up playing in the MLS as a rookie it will be at right back unless multiple center backs on Charlotte FC get injured next season.
Having a 22-year-old who turns 23 along with a 20 year old defenseman that was drafted first overall in the 2023 MLS Super Draft gives Charlotte FC stability at right back. Hamady Diop ended his season at Clemson on a high note playing all 90 minutes in Clemson's final three regular season games. I strongly considered bumping this up to an A- grade, but I felt like Diop warranted a B+ grade after reviewing the game film. If Diop had completed 90 percent of his passes, I was going to bump him up to an A-, but he completed 88 percent of his passes and gave up Pittsburgh's only goal against Clemson in the 1-1 tie against Pittsburgh.
D.C. United traded the second overall pick in the 2023 MLS Super Draft to Orlando City S.C. about an hour before the 2023 MLS Super Draft, so I'm just going to slot Shakur Mohammed here at 2 for now. D.C. United got Orlando City S.C.'s starting right back in the trade.
The 5-10 160 lb Shakur Mohammed had 3 goals, 7 assists, and 14 points as a true freshman with the Duke Blue Devils in the Fall of 2021. Shakur Mohammed was also at the 2021 MLS College Showcase impressing MLS scouts as a 10 at attacking midfielder. He wasn't at the 2022 MLS College Showcase, but he's projected as a top five draft pick regardless.
Shakur Mohammed had 10 goals, 2 assists, and 22 points as a sophomore and did enough to win the 2022 ACC Offensive Player Of The Year. Duke went undefeated in the regular season before losing to Clemson in the quarterfinals of the 2022 ACC Men's Soccer Championship. Duke got to the elite 8 in the College Cup in both 2021 and 2022 in both of Shakur Mohammed's two seasons starting at Duke.
Shakur Mohammed can play the 8 at central midfielder, the 9 at striker or the 10 at attacking midfielder. Shakur Mohammed has really improved his versatility this season at Duke. Shakur Mohammed, the Duke midfielder reminds me of Darlington Ngabe from the 2011 MLS Super Draft when comes to using his speed, playmaking, passing, kicking power, kicking accuracy, and vision as a soccer player on the pitch.
Jack Lynn will take off next year. Especially with an attacking midfielder as lethal as Shakur Mohammed who most mocked first overall to St. Louis City SC before they traded the first pick away.
Colorado's biggest need was at striker since they need a replacement to Gyasi Zardes, yet they went for a center back at 3. Colorado also needed a center back though and ran a formation with three center backs when the Rapids got the 1 seed in the Western Conference two years ago back in 2021.
The 6-3 190 lb Moise Bombito had 4 goals, 8 points, and helped New Hampshire record 9 shutouts in 16 starts. Bombito wows you with his defensive play as he's consistently making signature tackles to take pressure off his goalie. I'd like to see him pass the ball more frequently, but he checks off every single box outside of that. Passing isn't a weakness with him as he delivers crisp accurate passes to teammates. The only drawback is he requires an International roster slot, but the Colorado Rapids have only used 4 of their 8 International roster slots. Moise Bombito also didn't start New Hampshire's biggest game of the year in the season opener against Maryland. I had Bombito graded slightly higher than Hamady Diop which is why this pick gets a B+ grade.
New England gave up $250,000 in Allocation money and the tenth overall pick to move up to four in the 2023 MLS Super Draft. New England ended up with Maryland left winger Joshua Bolma at 4.
The 5-9 135 lb Joshua Bolma had 4 goals, 4 assists, and 12 points in the Fall of 2021 as a freshman redshirt. Bolma asserted himself as the leader of Maryland's offense with Ben Bender gone. Joshua Bolma has the speed, stamina, dribbling, and awareness you want from an MLS winger. The rest of his game needs some refining at the next level, but he's good in a lot of categories with speed being Bolma's one elite trait.
Joshua Bolma had 2 goals, 8 assists, and 12 points as a sophomore redshirt in 2022. Maryland was the 1 seed in the 2022 Big Ten Tournament and made the 2022 Big Ten Semifinals before falling to Indiana. Maryland won their opening round game in the 2022 College Cup before losing to Cornell.
Joshua Bolma played the 11 at left winger in 2021. He's moved to the 10 at attacking midfielder in 2022. Joshua Bolma participated in both the 2021 MLS College Showcase and will participate in this years 2022 MLS College Showcase.
Upgrading both left wing and right wing were New England's two biggest offseason needs. New England has one International roster slot available and now upgraded left wing and found a replacement ot Tajon Buchanan in the process. Excellent pick here by the New England Revolution.
Vancouver traded $225,000 in Allocation money and the thirteenth overall pick to move up eight spots to 5. A UNC Greensboro dad told me that J.C. Ngango is a special player and his coach Chris Rich called him MLS ready so I can't argue with this pick.
Vancouver runs a 3-4-2-1 formation. Basically everyone except their central midfielder will be back next season. Six of their starters are International players so if Vancouver cuts the two International backups and doesn't re-sign their central midfielder, they'll have three International roster spots that they can use for a Free Agent, a draft pick, or perhaps signing Theo Collomb to an MLS contract. Vancouver can now use two of those three International roster slots on J.C. Ngando and Theo Collomb if the team wants to. Either way, Vancouver can do whatever they wish with those International slots this offseason.
Vancouver gets one of the best midfielders in College Soccer and drafts for need by taking the best central midfielder on the board. J.C. Ngando whose full name is Jean Claude Ngando-Mbdende is 23-years-old despite being a sophomore at UNC Greensboro. He accepted a Generation Adidas offer in the 2023 MLS Super Draft. Remember, last year Theo Collomb was eilgible for the 2022 MLS Super Draft as a senior despite being a sophomore on the soccer team with two seasons on UNC Greensboro with 7 and 15 goals since Collomb had his degree as a 21-year-old. Theo Collomb was also drafted by the Vancouver Whitecaps plus Vancouver's first round pick in the 2022 MLS Super Draft was Saint Louis striker Simon Becher.
The 5-8 170 lb J.C. Ngando was the SoCon Freshman of the Year in 2021. J.C. Ngando had 5 goals, 8 assists, and 18 points in the Fall of 2021. J.C. Ngando won SoCon Player OF The Year in 2022 and had 4 goals, 14 assists, and 22 points in 2022 while playing 1,833 minutes.
UNC Greensboro head coach Chris Rich said Ngando was MLS Ready when UNC Greensboro played Clemson on the ACC Network. I agree one hundred percent with that statement as this is a playmaker with elite vision, decision making, and soccer IQ that delivers consistently.
J.C. Ngando can play the 8 at central midfielder or the 10 at attacking midfielder. He's a natural playmaker for your offense if you want someone who can generate assists for your striker. The other day, I asked Joseph Potter, the co-host of my podcast which Generation Adidas player he would draft first overall last year after having Ben Bender as his top player in the entire 2022 MLS Super Draft. He said he'd take J.C. Ngando at one because his name sounded like a Star Wars character.
The 6-1 190 lb Duncan McGuire had 23 goals, 3 assists, and 49 points in 2022. Duncan McGuire has to be the front runner to win the 2022 Hermann Trophy after his dominant junior redshirt season where he led the country with 23 goals for Creighton. He helped Creighton win the Big East Tournament as a six seed where they knocked off the top seed Georgetown Hoyas in the Big East Championship Game. Creighton then defeated a Missouri State that was ranked in the top 25 in the round of 48, 2 seed Washington in the round of 32, 15 seed Tulsa in the sweet 16, and 7 seed Duke in the elite 8 before losing to the eventual 2022 College Cup Champion Syracuse in regulation. Duncan McGuire is in the 2023 MLS Super Draft as a senior following such a dominant season.
Orlando City S.C. now has Jack Lynn and Duncan McGuire as their strikers with Shakur Mohammed as their attacking midfielder. Duncan McGuire scored 23 goals and has somewhat of an offensive identity similar to what Vancouver is doing.
Real Salt Lake gave Atlanta United F.C. $175,000 in Allocation money. This was a drop in the bucket for Real Salt Lake after getting $500,000 in Allocation Money from CF Montreal.
The 6-0 185 lb Ilijah Paul may have the best resume of any underclassmen in the 2023 MLS Super Draft. Ilijah Paul helped Valpraiso United end a fifteen year drought to win a State Championship in Arizona during his freshman year in High School. A year later he scored 10 goals with the Real Salt Lake Under 16 Academy as a sophomore. This guy was so exceptional that he actually played with Phoenix Rising FC as a junior in High School in the USL being the youngest player in history to sign a USL deal with Phoenix Rising FC where he played until he graduated High School.
After High School, Paul committed to the San Francisco Dons before transferring to Washington in the Trasfer Portal. San Francisco's coach called Paul a special player while Washington head coach Jamie Clark called him a difference maker.
Ilijah Paul sat behind Gio Miglietti in 2021, but Miglietti moved to center back this season allowing Paul to take over at striker for Washington in 2022. The Washington Huskies went until the final regular season game before losing their first game to Oregon State at home. Ilijah Paul may headline this team, but Washington has as many as seven players on their roster that could end up in the top 15 of the 2023 MLS Super Draft. Coach Clark's Huskies are that stacked this year.
Ilijah Paul had 11 goals, 4 assists, and 26 points in 18 games played and 15 games started in 2022 winning the PAC 12 Offensive Player Of The Year in 2022. I usually don't give first year starters the benefit of the doubt, but Ilijah Paul has the most consistent resume I've seen from a college soccer player since Andre Blake back in the 2014 MLS Super Draft with Connecticut. Blake had 15 shutouts as a freshman at Connecticut in 2011, 12 shutouts as a sophomore in 2012, and 10 shutouts in 2013 before being drafted first overall by the Philadelphia Union. Basically, Paul is the first MLS Prospect outside of Andre Blake to warrant the label of a Generational Talent.
He's also a domestic player born in the United States and teams can take him knowing he won't occupy an International roster slot. An expansion team like St. Louis City SC needs a guy like Ilijah Paul to be the face of their franchise.
Paul is fast, agile, he's got the kicking power and kicking accuracy you want a goal scoring forward to have. Ilijah can score on headers and steal the ball from opponents by playing well defensively. He can be assertive and dominant without being domineering. Not only does he have the right balance of aggressiveness without being overtly aggressive, he's also a high energy guy. His teammates respond to his infectious energy on the pitch.
If you're a goalie going up against Paul, you have to protect the soccer ball like it's your child against the Washington Huskies because Ilijah is capable of intercepting a pass if your goalie makes the wrong decision. Paul is a master at capitalizing on second chance scoring opportunities especially if the goalie tries to kick it to a defender and Paul anticipates that. This young man will snipe your goalie with his foot or head if you give him second or third chance opportunities.
Ilijah Paul can play the 7 at right winger, the 9 at striker, or 11 at left winger with his versatility. I've been covering the MLS Draft since 2012 and Ilijah Paul is the only player outside of Philadelphia Union goalie Andre Blake that would warrant consideration as a Generational talent. The only players outside of Ilijah Paul who justify being drafted first overall are Shakur Mohammed, C.J. Fodrey, Joshua Bolma, and Joey Akpunonu. Those other four players are all currently in my top 5 overall with Ilijah Paul leading the pack since I view Ilijah Paul as a five star prospect entering the MLS. Outside of Andre Blake and Cyle Larin, Paul is the only other number one draft pick I've had a blue chip grade on.
My player comparison for Ilijah Paul would be Jesus Ferrara the homegrown striker on F.C. Dallas. When I watch Paul I see a lot of similar traits that Ferrera brings to the game and it's pretty rare to get a player that was good enough to warrant a homegrown contract with Real Salt Lake in the MLS Super Draft. Ilijah Paul is the number one player on my 2023 MLS Draft Big Board. Real Salt Lake drafted a guy they couldn't secure to a homegrown contract at 7.
The striker tandem of Sergio Cordova and Ilijah Paul is one MLS teams will have to fear and respect since Cordova had 11 goals in MLS asserting himself as the main striker while Ilijah Paul is good enough to be the main striker of Real Salt Lake team if Cordova gets injured after matching Cordova's goal total at Washington in 2022. Having two forwards talented enough to be the main striker is gonna make Real Salt Lake tough to gameplan against next season since both Cordova and Paul had 11 goals in 2022.
I've gotten the opportunity to meet and interview a lot of really good star caliber players leading up to MLS Drafts over the years with this website and podcast. Paul has a chance to be better then anyone I've spoken with if he continues to work on his game. He had 8 goals after the first month of September and once I saw him dominate against teams like Michigan State, Seattle U, and UCLA I knew this guy was in the conversation to go first overall.
The 5-11 150 lb Stephen Afrifa had 8 goals, 3 assists, and 19 points as a junior earning First Team All-Conference USA honors in 2021. Stephen Afrifa was the only player outside of SMU midfielder Knut Ahlander to earn First Team All-Conference Honors for the second year in a row. Stephen Afrifa had 10 goals, 4 assists, and 23 points in 2022.
Stephen Afrifa is a natural 9 at striker and the Toronto, Canada native won't count as an International roster slot if a Canadian team drafts him, but Sporting Kansas City had one International roster slot left, and Afrifa is only 21-years-old. The fact that he's so young along with the fact that one person had him as the top striker in the entire 2023 MLS Super Draft is why I cannot do any worse than give this a B grade. It's a slight reach in terms of value since Afrifa was my twenty second best player, but Travis Clark had this guy in his top 5 calling him the best striker in the entire 2023 MLS Super Draft. The other thing to take into account is Sporting Kansas City's biggest need was at striker which is why I went with a B grade here.
St. Louis City SC traded $175,000 in Allocation money to move up to 9. With this pick, St. Louis City SC selected Owen O'Malley.
The 6-0 150 lb Owen O'Malley is versatile enough to play left midfielder, central midfielder, or left winger with his versatility. Owen O'Malley can play the 8 at central midfielder, the 10 at attacking midfielder, and the 11 at left winger.
Owen O'Malley had 8 goals, 5 assists, and 21 points in 2022. His father and sister Shea are soccer players too, so that tells you that Owen O'Malley comes from a very prestigous soccer family which is what attracted St. Louis City SC.
I mocked Owen O'Malley at 8, but had him at eleven on my final big board. St. Louis City SC traded up for Owen O'Malley at 9. This pick gets a B grade from a value standpoint, but an A- grade from a team needs standpoint. That averages out to a B+ for St. Louis City SC here.
St. Louis City SC had Owen O'Malley as the number one player on their big board and still got their top player in the entire Super Draft at 9. St. Louis City SC traded out of one to pick up $450,000 in Allocation money plus pick 20, and then spend $175,000 of that to invest in Owen O'Malley. St. Louis City SC still had $275,000 in allocation money after trading up for Owen O'Malley before trading pick 20 away to Charlotte FC for another $100,000 in Allocation Money. St. Louis City SC ended the first round of the 2023 MLS Super Draft with $375,000 in Allocation money after trading picks one and twenty away plus the expansion franchise set to join the MLS this Spring still got the top guy on their entire Draft board at 9. That is an incredible return and the biggest reason why I bumped this grade up to an A grade after initially giving this selection a B+ grade.
The 6-0 180 lb Daniel Munie went to the same High School as Jack Maher, the second overall pick in the 2020 MLS Super Draft. He's versatile enough to play the 2 at at right back, the 3 at left back, the 4 at center back, or the 5 at center back being used as a teams sweeper with his versatility. He's played center back in High School and College, but some project Munie to play fullback on the outside as a wing back in the MLS due to his height.
Daniel Munie did well as a junior redshirt with 3 goals, 3 assists, 9 points, and helped Indiana record 13 shutouts with highly coveted goalie Roman Celentano starting 11 of those games. Daniel Munie should be eligible for the 2023 MLS Super Draft as a senior redshirt if he has his degree since he returned to Indiana after participating in the 2021 MLS College Showcase.
Daniel Munie entered the preseason as a top 10 pick, but his film looked a lot worse without Roman Celentano who had great success with FC Cincinnati as a rookie goalie. Munie struggled against Clemson in the season opener, but still put together 4 goals, 6 assists, 14 points, and 8 shutouts with Indiana in 2022. Indiana didn't surrender a goal in the 2022 College Cup until the Championship match against Syracuse. Playing so dominant in the postseason by not allowing a goal from the round of 32 to the final 4 without allowing a goal allowed Munie to round out the top 10.
Daniel Munie dominated during most of the 2022 College Cup. He was awful in the season opener against Clemson and the Championship game against Syracuse. Daniel Munie was the fifth best player on the board, but when you take into account that San Jose has center backs they drafted like Tanner Beason and Oskar Agren, I have to wonder what Daniel Munie's role here is. San Jose ends up with a B- grade from a value standpoint, but a C grade from a team need standpoint. That's why this pick averages out to the first C+ grade of this years 2023 MLS Super Draft.
The 6-2 155 lb Joey Skinner had 4 goals, 7 assists, 15 points, and helped UNC Greensboro record 9 shutouts as a true freshman. Joey Skinner had 2 goals, 1 assist, 5 points, and helped Clemson record 9 shutouts after transferring from UNC Greensboro to Clemson against much tougher competition in the ACC. Joey Skinner showed the versatility to play both the 2 at right back and the 3 at left back in Clemson's ACC Tournament win over undefeated Duke making him a plug-in-play fullback even though left back is his natural position.
Nashville S.C. grabs a nice left back for depth. Skinner is versatile enough to play both left back and right back giving Nashville S.C. a fullback for depth.
Charlotte FC gave up $100,000 in Allocation money and their 2024 first round pick to move up to 12 with the Colorado Rapids. Charlotte FC took Patrick Agyemang here.
Patrick Agyemang participated in the 2022 MLS College Showcase. He's a guy some teams have a first round grade on because of his speed and pinpoint kicking accuracy. You'd like to see him kick with more power, but he's reliable enough to get picked in the first two rounds.
The 6-4 180 lb Patrick Agyemang had 10 goals, 6 assists, and 26 points in the Fall of 2021. Patrick Agyemang had 7 goals, 2 assists, and 16 points in 2022.
Patrick Agyemang used to play Volleyball and Football growing up. He loves contact sports and plays with authority. Agyemang is a project, but if you can improve his kicking power he's got the traits to be a star striker and he won't require an International roster slot. He comes from a soccer family which is why Charlotte FC only got a C grade here despite taking the first second round prospect on the board at 12.
Austin FC: C.J. Fodery, F, San Diego StateA+ Grade
Austin FC gave up $100,000 in Allocation money and the twenty seventh pick to Houston Dynamo F.C. to get the third best player on my big board at thirteen. The Western Conference runner ups from 2022 got themselves a potential cornerstone player.
The 6-2 170 lb C.J. Fodrey had 7 goals, 4 assists, and 18 points as a true freshman in 2022. Fodrey also played with the San Diego Loyal in the USL where he's been getting hands on training and mentorship from former MLS legend Landon Donovan. A player that was a relative unknown, but had a lot of USL experience back in 2017 was Jeremy Ebobisse whose been a huge success in the MLS. I think that's the ceiling for Fodrey with Fodrey having the floor of someone like winger Miguel Berry. Fodrey is gonna do whatever he can to help his team score a goal and he's got a very humble personality.
C.J. Fodrey can play the 9 at striker or 11 at left winger with his versatility. Fodrey's youth and longevity can make him a player that lasts in MLS for 15-20 years instead of 10-15 years if he pans out due to how young he is.
Getting a player with that type of longevity is huge especially if Austin FC hits on this pick. Ben Bender last years number one pick had a three star potential rating out of five stars on Top Drawer Soccer. Top Drawer Soccer gave C.J. Fodrey a four star potential rating out of five stars after giving Bender only a three star rating out of five stars.
2 Balls And A Mic had C.J. Fodrey on their podcast a week before the 2022 MLS College Showcase last week. I was blown away with how well Fodrey interviewed and even took the time to watch his game film.
I didn't have this guy in my four round mock. The 6-1 172 lb Maxmilian Arfsten had 8 goals, 7 assists, and 23 points in 2021 at UC Davis before going to San Jose Earthquakes II in MLS Next in 2022. The MLS league website couldn't find his photo so the MLS league website gets an F grade while Columbus gets a C grade. That averages out to a D grade.
The 5-11 150 lb Noel Caliskan is versatile enough to play the 6 at defensive midfielder or the 8 at central midfielder. He's played 90 minutes in every game this season, but requires an International roster slot. Noel Caliskan had 3 goals, 4 assists, 10 points, and helped Loyola Marymount get 6 shutouts after losing goalie Jacob Jackson who was drafted by the New England Revolution in the first round of the 2022 MLS Super Draft.
I had a second round grade on Noel Caliskan despite the fact that he was a consensus first round prospect. The fact that Caliskan played 90 minutes in every game this season bumps this up from a C- to a C grade. Portland has used all of their International roster slots, so Noel Caliskan may begin his career in MLS Next.