MLS SuperDraft: Three things to know

MLS will hold its annual SuperDraft Friday in Philadelphia (11 a.m. ET at the United Soccer Coaches Convention).

MLS SuperDraft: Order

MLS's need for players signed via the SuperDraft has diminished as their academy programs mature and they sign players to Homegrown contracts out of college (seniors and underclassmen) or while still in high school. But it still plays a key role in roster building and for filling out the rosters of MLS second teams in the USL.

A team will occasionally hit it big with a draft pick. In the last decade, 11 draft picks have gone on to become Best XI selections, mostly recently Jamaican Andre Blake (Philadelphia's No. 1 pick in 2014) and Swede Axel Sjoberg  (taken at No. 14 by Colorado in 2015).

Here's an overview of the pool player for this year's draft.

Projected top five ... For the third year in a row, the first or second pick should be a Ghanaian Right to Dreamer. After Josh Yaro (No. 2 pick by Philadelphia in 2016) and Abu Danladi (No. 1 pick by Minnesota United in 2017), Francis Atuahene is likely to be the top pick at the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, if not one of the first two.

Hermann Trophy winner Jon Bakero (Wake Forest), the son of former Spanish international Jose Mari Bakero, and three-time national champion Tomas Hilliard-Arce (Stanford) are also expected to go very high. Bakero led the nation in scoring for Wake Forest, while Hilliard-Arce is considered the top defender in the college ranks.

Two freshmen also expected to go in the top five have ties to Portugal's Sporting Lisbon: left-footed defender Joao Moutinho from Akron and forward Mason Toye from Indiana. Moutinho grew up in the Sporting program, where Cristiano Ronaldo played, while Toye trained in Lisbon during high school in New Jersey.

Supply and demand ... The draft is all about matching up supply and demand. Most of the top picks will require international roster spots, which are in a premium. Teams needs Americans or players with green cards to fill out their rosters, but the best American collegians are players whose rights are tied up as Homegrowns.

After Toye and Hilliard-Arce, the best Americans are Chris Mueller (Wisconsin), Tristan Blackmon (Pacific) and Ken Krolicki (Michigan State). Others who improved their stock in the last week at the combine in Orlando are Wyatt Omsberg (Dartmouth), Ricky Lopez-Espin (Creighton), Alan Winn (North Carolina) and Senegalese-born Mohamed Thiaw (Louisville).

Rest of the GAs ... Besides Atuahene, Moutinho and Toye, four other Generation adidas players are in the draft. GAs are important in that by MLS rules they don't take spots on a team's senior roster and their salaries don't count against a team's salary cap as long as they are classified as GAs.

All four are foreigners: Ghanaian Dreamers Ema Twumasi (Wake Forest) and Ed Opoku (Virginia), English midfielder Mo Adams (Syracuse) and German forward Gordon Wild (Maryland).

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