One of the most important moments of the offseason, the MLS SuperDraft occurred last week, as college players looked to finally reach their dreams at the professional level. As a team with one of the most interesting offseasons, the Earthquakes looked to the draft as a way to address issues with the team. Quakes fans should be thrilled with how the draft went, as the team left with two top prospects who will likely help the team in the present and future.
While it’s not often seen as the most exciting way to build a team, the SuperDraft can still yield exciting players who can go on to be real difference makers in the league. Even in this transfer window, former draft picks like Daryl Dike and Tajon Buchanan have made moves to Europe after great performances this past season.
Entering the draft, the Quakes had only one first round with glaring holes across the roster from a lack of defenders to a need for a right back. To further address these issues, the Quakes traded for another pick from DC United for $100,000, giving the Quakes another chance at a top talent. While the Quakes didn’t address every issue that they have, they still came away as one of the biggest winners of the draft.
Both of their first round picks are incredibly talented young players who should give the team necessary depth. Their first pick, Ousseni Bouda, is a very talented winger who could definitely play an important part in this side from day one. Oskar Ågren finished last season nominated for the best player in college soccer and while he may not be starting day one, he could become the league’s top defender in the future.
The team has had a pretty silent offseason so far, but the way they handled the draft can give fans an insight on how they will operate from now. Fans may have expected some big transfers, but the front office looks more interested in working within the MLS structure rather than operating like Toronto FC. That is not to say that this is wrong, their two picks this year are very promising and could help the team immensely, much like how the Revolution has rebuilt themselves into contenders using the draft.
Another Stanford product that the Quakes have drafted, Bouda proved to be a talented winger during his time in the Bay Area. Bouda should project as a depth player when the season starts but could mold into an MLS caliber winger in the near future.
Hailing from Burkina Faso, Bouda spent three years at Stanford, winning the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year award after a five goal and assist season. Already a winner at the college level, Bouda has the winning pedigree from a draft pick that they have aimed for in the past few drafts. In an interesting side note, he will also occupy an international slot for the team.
Going into the season, Bouda will likely serve as the understudy to Cristian Espinoza, as both players are creative wingers who provide more assists than goals. In addition, with Cade Cowell and Espinoza starting on the wings, Bouda’s role will be the first winger of the bench. Shea Salinas’ role under Almeyda will likely be the expectation for him in his first season.
While he will likely start the season on the bench, Bouda projects to be an interesting prospect that could replace Cade or Espinoza in the long term. In the short term, he should also provide key depth to a team that has lacked depth on the wing for a while.
One of the best players in all of college soccer last year, it was a shock to many watching that he fell to the Quakes at the 13th spot. Ågren finished as a finalist for best player in college soccer last season and the Quakes pulled off quite the trade to draft him.
Ågren was regarded as the best defensive prospect by many, but his occupying an international slot probably made some teams wary of using that slot on a draft pick. Those teams’ losses are the Quakes’ gain, as Ågren’s potential could have him as a constant contender for MLS defender of the year. Not only is he a good defender, but he has proven to be a threat on the offensive side, being able to score and assist more than an average defender.
What will be interesting is how he will fit into the team, given that the partnership of Tanner Beason and Nathan has looked great last season. However, Almeyda has at times opted to go three at the back which could help Ågren develop without being left with too much responsibility. Should Almeyda opt for the two center backs, Ågren could still learn from both Beason and Nathan from the bench.
Definitely a surprise pick, given that many expected him to go higher, Quakes fans should be thrilled that such a talented player fell to them. Ågren projects to be a top MLS defender and could contribute right away, but may spend this season as the third choice center back.
While it’s not the most glamorous of avenues to build a team, the MLS SuperDraft has churned out some quality players over the past few years. Quakes fans should be thrilled with the picks, as both players aren’t too far from being starters and have immense potential. With some of the holes being filled by this draft, it will be interesting to see how the team deals with the remaining issues as the season nears.
Featured Image: Getty