The 2017 MLS SuperDraft is only one day away, but Orlando City SC fans should not be bouncing off the walls because of it. As the Lions traded away both their first- and second-round picks, odds are the team will not be able to select an impact player this year, unless Orlando can trade for a new pick prior to the draft.
The Lions will have the right to make two selections, both in the second part of the draft, which will happen on Tuesday, Jan. 17, via conference call, as they hold picks No. 64, in the third round, and No. 74, in the fourth round.
“That’s obviously a little disappointing. But I also have enough experience to know that you can still find something in the third and fourth rounds. There are certainly gems to be had and we are going to do our work and hopefully the right person will be available in the third and fourth rounds for us,” said Orlando City’s Head Coach Jason Kreis in an interview to The Mane Land PawedCast.
In its brief history at the MLS SuperDraft, Orlando City has selected nine players over the course of two years. Five of them remain connected to the Lions or to USL’s Orlando City B, but only one of them has made a significant impact in the club: striker Cyle Larin, arguably one of the best players to ever join MLS through the SuperDraft.
As we wait for this year’s SuperDraft, let’s recap the selections made by Orlando City in 2015 and 2016 and remember what they did (or not) for the club:
Cyle Larin - The first overall pick of the 2015 SuperDraft and Orlando City’s first ever selection made a huge impact in his inaugural season in MLS, scoring more goals than any newcomer ever had (17) and earning the Rookie of the Year award. The Canadian striker, drafted out of the University of Connecticut, also had a remarkable second season with the Lions, scoring 14 goals and notching three assists in 2016.
Conor Donovan - Generation Adidas defender Conor Donovan was selected by the Lions with the 22nd overall pick. A regular for the U.S. U-17 and U-20 teams, the promising North Carolina State product suffered a season-ending ACL injury in August 2015, in his first MLS match. Back to the field in 2016, Donovan was loaned to OCB, where he played 15 matches and scored one goal in the USL.
Akeil Barrett - The 5-foot-7 Jamaican winger had a short and inexpressive stint with Orlando City. Drafted out of Tulsa, Barrett was waived by the club without a single match on his record just a few weeks after being selected 25th overall.
Earl Edwards Jr. - The goalkeeper was the 43rd overall selection after captaining UCLA in his college career. In his first year with the Lions, Edwards displayed his skills in the U.S. Open Cup, helping the club to win a 10-round penalty shootout against Charleston Battery in the Round of 16. The former U.S. U-17 stopper never played for Orlando City in MLS play and was loaned to OCB in 2016, where he played in two matches.
Sidney Rivera - The Lions’ final selection in 2015, Rivera was picked as 63rd overall, coming from Old Dominion University. The forward was loaned twice, to Louisville City FC and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, before being released in November of the same year.
Richie Laryea - The Canadian midfielder was Orlando City’s first and the SuperDraft’s seventh overall selection last year. The University of Akron product was loaned to Orlando City B in USL for the 2016 season, where he recorded 23 appearances and two assists.
Hadji Barry - The No. 13 overall selection, and Orlando’s second first-round pick of 2016, Barry split his first season with the club between Orlando City and OCB. With the Lions, the Guinean forward had eight MLS matches and four consecutive starts between July and August, recording one assist. In the USL, the UCF product was more productive, with four goals and two assists in 11 contests.
Antonio Matarazzo - Versatile midfielder Antonio Matarazzo was the 48th overall selection in the SuperDraft, out of Columbia University. The New Jersey native was not signed to the MLS side, but ended up signing with Orlando City B and played in eight matches in USL. He was released at the end of the season.
Tobenna Uzo - The Nigeria native was selected with the 68th overall pick from Coastal Carolina University. The 6-foot-4 forward did not sign with the club after the draft.