The MLS SuperDraft is quickly approaching and in typical Orlando City fashion the Lions have just one pick. A year ago Niki Budalić and the front office picked up midfielder Danny Deakin with the club’s sole draft pick.
This year, the Lions have the sixth overall pick and there are many players that will be available that can come in and make an immediate impact. Below are some of the players who could become new Lions in this year’s SuperDraft.
F Jon Bakero, Wake Forest
While striker is not the most glaring position of need for Orlando, Bakero should be one of the best players available with the sixth pick. The Wake Forest senior can play the No. 10 role, as well as up top, and Jason Kreis will be able use Bakero in multiple ways.
Bakero is excellent on the ball and has great vision, which makes up for his lack of speed. Combined with his finishing ability, the MAC Hermann Trophy winner will be gone in the top 10 for sure, and should be number one on Orlando City’s big board.
If the roster stays as it currently is then Bakero could start in the season opener. If the Josué Colmán signing becomes official then the rookie would most likely be a bench option to start the year, which might be better for his career in the long run. Bakero would be important depth for the Lions and a late-game attacking option.
D/MF Tim Kubel, Louisville
The Louisville defender is probably the best fullback in this year’s draft class. He is predicted to be a late first-round pick so if the Lions are targeting him they could trade down some and still draft the 24-year-old German.
His play is similar to Orlando’s Scott Sutter — good service in, consistent, and solid on the defensive end. He will not be a day one starter, but with Sutter, RJ Allen, Mohamed El-Munir, and Donny Toia on the roster Kubel will have time develop. He’d come in as a bench option and depth but he is a player with potential to be a week in and week out starter in MLS.
D Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Stanford
The Stanford defender is predicted to go either first or second in most mock drafts so it is unlikely that Orlando will have a chance here. However, if by some miracle Hilliard-Arce falls this far — perhaps he has a poor combine — the Lions need to use their pick on the MAC Hermann trophy finalist.
He is a two-time All-American who could come in and start from day one. He is not known for his ball skills but as a rookie center back that is not the most important skill to look for. Hilliard-Arce would come into the Lions and most likely start next to Jonathan Spector. At 6-foot-1, 175 lbs. the 22-year-old would be the second biggest field player in Orlando. His physicality will be key for Orlando and should be an immediate upgrade to a poor defense.
D/MF Joao Moutinho, Akron
The Generation Adidas freshman is the definition of versatile. He can play in the midfield, at center back, or fullback. Moutinho is a product of the Sporting Lisbon Academy and is excellent with the ball at his feet.
He would be another depth option for Kreis, but has the potential to break out into the starting XI in his rookie year. The best spot on the Lions might be defensive midfield so he could help set up attacks.