On Jan. 15 Orlando City will have the first pick of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, in which they will choose between the top college soccer players in the country. While there are many great players to choose from, most agree the decision will be between forward Cyle Larin of Connecticut and defender Joseph Yaro of Georgetown. But some decisions that have already been made may have given away who the club plans to select.
With the exception of a brief loan spell of Dom Dwyer in 2013, Orlando City has struggled at the forward position. Those past struggles made solidifying that position a priority this final off-season before joining MLS. In addition to adding some veteran forwards to the squad, the club signed 19-year-old Honduran star Bryan Rochez and have been heavily linked to 20-year-old Colombian Carlos Rivas. The addition of these two young players may have tipped who the club is looking at in the upcoming draft.
In addition to the forward position, center back has been another issue that must be resolved. The signing of MLS all-star Aurelien Collin partially addressed the issue but the only other center backs on the team are injury prone veteran Heath Pearce and 17-year-old homegrown product Tommy Redding. While Orlando City has done well to fill most starting spots and address a lack of depth for the upcoming season, center back is still a position that causes concern.
Between Larin and Yaro, Orlando City is picking between the best striker and best defender in college soccer. On paper they're very similar. Both play at strong college soccer programs. Both are internationals, with Larin being Canadian and Yaro being Ghanaian. And both are likely to sign Generation Adidas contracts, meaning they would be considered "off-budget" players and not count toward the salary cap. So what it really comes down to for Orlando City is what the club needs most.
Due to the recent influx of young forwards, Orlando City doesn't need another 19-year-old up top. However, the team lacks the depth necessary at center back for a long MLS season. Another factor is that Collin at 28 and Pearce at 30 are not the future at that position for the club. While they will be strong additions for the next couple years, many of the additions prove that Orlando City is thinking about long-term success as well as short-term. The club likely sees Redding and Yaro as their center back pair of the future.
Most reports during the past year have shown Larin as the number one pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. But the addition of two young forwards make that an unlikely pick for Orlando City. The club now seems much more likely to select a position with less depth and more age, which hints at center back.
That's why the favorite to be picked first by the club come Jan. 15 is Yaro. The ability to have him study under two MLS veterans and later pair with Redding would give the club a very strong center back pairing for the future.