Today was the first part of the MLS draft process, and in the “Superdraft” we saw one Tar Heel signed to an MLS club. Three Tar Heels have gone to the draft, Mikey Lopez, Scott Goodwin, and Jordan Gafa, and these first two of the six rounds overall have so far seen just one make his way into the league. Today Mikey Lopez signed for Sporting Kansas City with the 14th overall pick in the first round. Another four rounds await for Goodwin and Gafa to make their way into the league.
Lopez was a major coup for SKC, as he was predicted to go as high as the second pick, but circumstances conspired to see him go to Kansas City. He was a major target for Chivas USA and was expected to be taken by Colorado for their want of a midfield prospect to manage. RSL were also rumored to be in, but when the chips fell Lopez wasn’t picked by the first 13 teams and Sporting Kansas City pounced. Today’s statements from the SKC manager Peter Vermes and owner Robb Heineman have shown their excitement and disbelief at landing a prospect like Lopez with the 14th overall pick, and their outlook bodes well for Lopez’s role in the squad and his development.
Scott Goodwin and Jordan Gafa should still expect a place in the supplemental draft in 5 days’ time. They’re both highly regarded and have reputations for performing in big situations. Jordan Gafa faces very little competition at the right back spot in the draft and has the rare caveat of being highly technically developed with more room to grow physically. Goodwin had a good MLS Combine, and scouts have had 4 years to see him perform for Carolina.
The excitement in Kansas over Mikey Lopez suggests that he’ll have an easy time getting his MLS career rolling, but fans shouldn’t be discouraged about Goodwin and Gafa. The MLS has a history of producing stars with late-draft picks, just ask current Sporting Kansas City star Graham Zusi, who is now a US Men’s National Teamer. Goodwin and Gafa will make MLS rosters, and once they do they’ll have the window into great careers. Each of them could step into an MLS squad given the opportunity.
Lopez looks to be set, but all it should take for Scott Goodwin and Jordan Gafa to kick start pro careers will be a pick in the supplemental draft. Each of them has the class and skill to do well in a variety of situations. A lack of right backs to rival Gafa and the ever scarce supply of goalkeepers mean that Goodwin and Gafa will likely be taken by teams with an actual need for them in the roster. Since it’ll be the teams with the need for depth at the right back and goalkeeper positions which take Gafa and Goodwin, they should be able to get their chance in the league after the Supplemental.