The 2022 MLS SuperDraft is just four days away. On January 11, MLS clubs will have their chance to pick from the collegiate ranks, hoping that some of these players will turn into valuable contributors at the highest level of the game in the country. The full list of available players can be found here.
Nashville SC have been quite successful in past SuperDrafts, but have fewer picks available than ever before. Nashville traded their first overall pick to LA Galaxy in return for striker Ethan Zubak, as well as sending the 21st pick in the second round to Vancouver Whitecaps back in 2019 to move up in the re-entry draft, which they used to sign Eric Miller. Here’s what Nashville will work with on Tuesday:
Pick 26 – acquired from Philadelphia Union
Pick 10 (38 overall) – acquired from LAFC
Pick 21 (77 overall)
Their three total picks all come later than ever before, and although they have allocation money to spare, it seems unlikely that they acquire significantly more picsk or move towards the top of the draft order. It’s a marked departure from prior years.
Round 1, Pick 2 – Jack Maher
Maher has played 2,038 minutes in 25 matches for Nashville, with short loan spells to the USL Championship towards the start of both seasons in MLS. In 2021 he locked down a starting role in the backline and is a key part of Nashville’s squad.
Round 1, Pick 11 – Alistair Johnston
Nashville traded $75,000 in GAM to move up and select Johnston. Johnston earned a starting spot on the backline early in 2020, and went on to make 49 appearances for Nashville and 18 caps for Canada before being traded to Montreal for $1 million in GAM ahead of the 2022 season.
Round 1, Pick 13 – Elliot Panicco
Panicco served as the second choice goalkeeper for all but two matches in 2020, and played 2,682 minutes on loan with Austin Bold in the USL Championship in 2021. His option was picked up for 2022 and he’ll have a chance to earn the no. 2 job.
Round 2, Pick 2 – Tanner Dieterich
Dieterich was selected 28th overall and played 1,048 minutes on loan in USL League One in the 2020 season. His 2021 option was declined, and he didn’t play professional soccer last season.
Round 3, Pick 2 – Shak Adams
Nashville native Shak Adams was selected 54th overall but wasn’t signed to an MLS contract. He’s played the last two seasons in USL League One with FC Tuscon.
Round 4, Pick 2 – Luke Haakenson
Haakenson was picked 80th overall in the now-defunct fourth round. He spend the 2020 season on loan with Charlotte Independence in the USL Championship, where he played 1,165 minutes. He returned to Nashville for the 2022 season, where he played 430 minutes across 19 appearances and was a fixture on the bench.
Round 1, Pick 20 – Irakoze Donasiyano
Donasiyano was selected with Nashville’s first pick in 2021 and was signed to an MLS contract. He made one MLS appearance before going on loan to OKC Energy in the USL Championship, suffering an injury that kept him out for the remainder of the year. His option was exercised and he’ll return to Nashville in 2022.
Round 2, Pick 9 – Tom Judge
Nashville acquired the 36th overall pick in a trade with Vancouver Whitecaps which they used to select left back Tom Judge. Judge was signed to an MLS contract and sent on loan to Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the USL Championship, playing just 177 minutes. His 2022 option was declined.
Round 3, Pick 19 – Tor Saunders
Nashville used one of the draft picks they acquired from Philadelphia to draft goalkeeper Tor Saunders, who was signed to an MLS contract but didn’t make a matchday squad before seeing his 2022 option declined.
Compensatory Round, 86 overall – Leroy Enzugusi
Nashville picked forward Leroy Enzugusi with the last selection of 2021, but never signed him to a contract. Enzugisi trialed with Forward Madison in USL League One, but has yet to sign with another team.
Other than Luke Haakenson, Nashville have yet to draft a contributor outside of the first round. Jack Maher and Alistair Johnston are their two clear success stories, and were drafted second and eleventh overall. Eliott Panicco, who’s highly rated internally, was taken thirteenth overall. Koze Donasiyano could get a chance at minutes this season, but is still very much an unknown quantity.
The lower you get in the draft, the harder it is to find players who can immediately contribute.
Nashville have needs. They could use depth at right back (although Donasiyano could end up answering some of those questions) and on the wings, and need a third option in goal. And while they’ll certainly draft players and give them a look in training camp, it’s not a sure thing that any of their selections will make an impact, especially past the first round.
Nashville have looked to USL to fill out supplemental and reserve roster spots. Brian Anunga was signed out of USL ahead of their first season, and they signed Robert Castellanos in 2021. Recently, Nashville took defender Josh Bauer in the re-entry draft, who played all of the 2021 season with Atlanta United 2.
Don’t be surprised if Nashville look again to the USL for depth. While there’s potential in the SuperDraft, there’s a lot to be said for finding players of a similar age who already have a couple seasons as professionals under their belts.