Major League Soccer is on track to open its eligibility criteria for the Super Draft (annual college draft), sources say. The athletics. According to his presentation to the teams’ chief football officers, the new format is still at the “proposal” stage. The athletics. The 2024 SuperDraft will be held on Tuesday, December 19 at 3 p.m.
The proposed changes would allow any player who is a college sophomore or older to enter the SuperDraft. College players on the team Home player list Still not eligible to take. The changes could be announced as early as the end of October.
An MLS spokesman declined to comment for this report.
In years past, players did not need to “declare” for the SuperDraft. Instead, the league has compiled a list of eligible players that includes college seniors who have met their college eligibility. Underclassmen can only qualify for MLS’ Generation Adidas (GA) program for the top players in the country when at least one MLS team has fully committed to select the player before the draft process begins.
Under the new system, the GA exception can be earned by any college player (including freshmen) as long as at least one team enters to draft him if he is available at the time of their first selection. That process The main difference between these players and other underclassmen entering the pool is contract guarantees before the draft.
Naturally, the plan requires some provision for underclassmen who are willing to give up their remaining college eligibility. No player can be drafted twice in Major League Baseball. All selected players will be eligible for SuperDraft priority by their club of choice until December 31st the second season following the draft.
Beyond that two-year window, players’ rights are determined by whether or not the franchise offers an MLS contract. If a drafted player declines a full MLS contract, the team still retains the right of first refusal to move forward. If another MLS team wants to sign them three years after they’re drafted, they’ll have to get those rights. If a player is not offered an MLS contract and their Super Draft priority expires after two years, however, any interested MLS club will submit a discovery request before adding them to their roster.
The MLS Next Pro contract provision does not affect how player rights are determined. Only the MLS contract allows a team to retain the right of first refusal after the Super Draft’s qualifying window rather than forfeiting the player’s rights.
If an underclassman is not selected, they may return to school (as long as they maintain their college eligibility) and re-enter the pool the following year.
One group of players who may be eligible in a complicated state of limbo are those on a team’s home roster in college, even if their status is consistent with previous seasons. As long as a player is on that list, they are not allowed to enter the SuperDraft. Using a real-life example of what can happen within this framework, one source walked through what those players might experience, using a pseudonym and a separate team to protect player privacy.
Bob Roberts is a junior and arguably the NCAA’s top right back, a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy. Prior to college, Roberts was part of San Diego FC’s academy, and the club placed Roberts on their national roster. As a result, Roberts could not leave school after his sophomore and rookie seasons because his MLS future was up to San Diego to decide. He has already played three years and is rated as one of the best college players in the country, but he is ready to move on to the next level.
However, San Diego has a deep pool of right backs and isn’t sold on Roberts’ post-college potential and decided not to offer an in-house deal ahead of the senior season. If Roberts decides to turn pro after his rookie season, he can go to the USL for a year to be eligible for the next SuperDraft, sign with the next pro team and hope any interested MLS team is willing to trade something for Sun. Diego for the right, or explore the options abroad.
If Roberts returns to school and San Diego doesn’t offer him an in-house deal by Dec. 1, he could enter the SuperDraft following his senior year. Any MLS team could pick him up, including San Diego. The draft team will, again, have SuperDraft priority for two full years. If he does not sign with a select team, his rights will be determined by whether or not he receives an MLS contract offer.
A briefing to sports executives explained the ever-increasing process of how a player can maintain college eligibility. It is a strict standard set by the NCAA. Players are not allowed to miss any sessions for tryouts or training with the squad. They are not allowed to play a competitive game or compete against a professional team. Their trial can only be extended beyond the 48-hour window if the player self-funds all associated costs, including return transportation.
In short, a player is unlikely to declare for the draft unless he is willing to take an MLS Next Pro contract. Only 17 picks in last year’s SuperDraft were signed to full MLS deals before the start of the season, compared to 11 GA players guaranteed contracts with the league. That’s less than half of the 35 who signed MLS Next Pro contracts, and three of those 35 players received MLS contracts midway through the season.
Hopefully this will also remove one of SuperDraft’s poorest elements in terms of optics. On five occasions in 2023, teams elected to pass over rather than select an eligible player. That’s down from 10 in the 2022 SuperDraft — an event that saw future St. Louis center Kyle Hibbert go unselected.
Still, passing picks sent a message that teams would rather start their post-draft plans sooner than give the remaining player in the pool a pro chance. If teams continue to fail in the new format, it will represent a failure on the part of the team in terms of scouting and preparation.
Relaxing the age limits would help give the SuperDraft its usefulness because the quality of each year’s pool should theoretically improve. Likewise, these new guidelines could make the college route an attractive option for players who know they can turn pro after two college seasons regardless of the GA process.
(Photo: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)