MLS 101: SuperDraft
The MLS SuperDraft is the annual collegiate player entry draft for Major League Soccer. The draft is held every January, about two months before the start of the MLS season.
The 2011 MLS SuperDraft is being held at the Baltimore Convention Center on Thursday, Jan. 13th, at 9 a.m. (Pacific). ESPN2 will air the first round with MLSsoccer.com covering rounds 2-3. PortlandTimbers.com will also be giving updates from Baltimore throughout the week.
MLS Player Combine
The MLS SuperDraft is preceded by a four-day-long player combine where MLS technical directors and their staffs scout potential draft picks by watching the invitees participate in training games. The teams also meet with the players one-on-one to get to know them on a personal level. This year’s player combine is taking place Jan. 7-11 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., wrapping up two days before the Jan. 13 SuperDraft in Baltimore.
Changes for 2011
This year, MLS changed the traditionally four-round SuperDraft to three rounds while adding a round to the Supplemental Draft. By essentially moving the SuperDraft’s fourth round to the Supplemental Draft, the league gives clubs more roster flexibility. Instead of being required to offer a fourth-round draft pick a first-team roster spot or no spot at all, a club can pick that same player in the first round of the Supplemental Draft and assign him to its senior roster or developmental roster, or decline to offer him a spot.
The MLS SuperDraft consists of three rounds, with 18 picks in each round.
For each of the three rounds, the order is determined by the teams’ finish during the previous MLS season, starting with the team holding the fewest number of regular season points (three for a win, one for a draw). Playoff teams are ordered by the round they were eliminated, with regular season points deciding the order for teams eliminated in the same round.
However, expansion teams are given priority and receive the first picks in each round. For the 2011 SuperDraft, Vancouver will pick first in each round as a result of the 2010 Expansion Priority Draft, with Portland receiving the second pick.
Clubs are permitted to trade their assigned draft picks, which is why you will see some teams with multiple picks in a given round and some teams with no picks in a round.
Some other structural SuperDraft details:
--Teams are permitted four (4) minutes to make a selection in the First and Second Rounds.
--Teams are permitted three (3) minutes to make a selection in the Third Round.
--There shall be a five (5) minute break between each Round.
--Each team is permitted only one (1) timeout.
--Timeouts are five (5) minutes in duration.
--Selections must be made immediately following the timeout (no additional time given).
--More than two (2) timeouts cannot be utilized consecutively.
Failure to Make Selection in Designated Time
--Teams that fail to make their selection in time must wait until the next selection is made, regardless if their choice is presented prior to the next team’s decision.
--The team that was delinquent with its selection must immediately have its choice in hand following the selection of the team that followed. If not, the original team must again wait for the next selection to be made.
--In the event a team passes, it shall be precluded from making any further picks for the remainder of the Draft.
The Timbers hold three draft picks for the 2011 MLS SuperDraft:
- 1st round - #2 overall (natural)
- 2nd round - #20 overall (natural)
- 2nd round - #22 overall (acquired from Chivas USA via Real Salt Lake in Nov. 24, 2010, trade involving Arturo Alvarez)
- 3rd round – no pick (natural pick (#38 overall) traded to New York in exchange for midfielder Jeremy Hall on Nov. 22, 2010)
In order to be eligible for the draft, players must be invited to participate in the MLS Player Combine, Generation adidas-signed players, or college players who no longer have college eligibility and are nominated by MLS teams. Just recently, MLS has allowed some international players to enter the SuperDraft, such as midfielder Paolo Cardozo (Uruguay), forward Victor Estupinan (Ecuador), and midfielder John Rooney (England).
Generation adidas contracts provide the opportunity for players to leave college early and begin their professional careers in MLS. The salaries of these players are usually greater than the league minimum and are paid by adidas and MLS. The players are also provided educational funds should they decide to finish their degrees later on. Their salaries do not count against a club’s salary budget, allowing teams to afford them time to develop. The college players typically signed by MLS to GA contracts are some of the best in the NCAA. This ensures that the U.S.’s best talent stays in MLS instead of plying its craft elsewhere. This year’s Generation adidas class consists of 10 players, five of whom played for NCAA College Cup Champions Akron last season.
A player who was drafted by a particular team through the SuperDraft and did not sign with the league is placed on that team's "College Protected List" until the second Dec. 31 following the draft in question, after which the team loses the rights to the player. In the case of this year’s draft, any selected players who are not signed with MLS will have their rights retained by the drafting team until Dec. 31, 2012.
With the return of the MLS Reserve League in 2011, the league has also brought back the MLS Supplemental Draft. Any players who were eligible for the MLS SuperDraft but were not selected are eligible for the Supplemental Draft, which will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Whereas players selected in the SuperDraft must be offered first-team roster spots, players drafted in the Supplemental Draft can be placed on a club’s developmental roster.
The Timbers hold four selections in the MLS Supplemental Draft:
- 1st supplemental round - #2 overall (natural)
- 1st supplemental round - #12 overall (acquired from Columbus via D.C. United in Nov. 24, 2010, trade involving Rodney Wallace and Dax McCarty)
- 2nd supplemental round - #20 overall (natural)
- 3rd supplemental round - #38 overall (natural)
The first round of the MLS SuperDraft will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 9 a.m. (Pacific), with rounds two and three streamed live on MLSsoccer.com following immediately afterward.
PortlandTimbers.com will also be giving updates throughout the week from Baltimore.