Boom, 1st trade of the day. Chicago Fire deal No. 3 overall pick to NYCFC for $250K in Gernal allocation money. NYCFC takes Jonathan Lewis.— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) January 13, 2017
The Chicago Fire just loving trading with us on SuperDraft day, huh? Jokes aside, this seems like another potential winner for Claudia Reyna and co. Having started out the day without a draft pick in the first round, thanks to a deal struck two years ago with Seattle to acquire the discovery rights to Kwadwo Poku (which they bought back later in the day), it was being reported for much of the day that New York City FC would try to trade up. And trade up they did, sending $250K of General Allocation Money to Chicago in exchange for the Number 3 pick, which they used to select midfielder/forward Jonathan Lewis from Akron University. Lewis is also a Generation Adidas signing, meaning his contract will not count against the club’s salary cap in 2017.
Akron's long been a cradle of standout MLS players, so it's no surprise to see Lewis going high in the draft -- you might recall one Darlington Nagbe, let's say. Or even a speedy defender like DeAndre Yedlin. Lewis is yet another talented player in that vein. He was highly rated before the draft; SBI Soccer had him as their top wide midfielder before the MLS Combine. Once at the MLS Combine, Lewis stood out even further, earning the honor MLS Combine MVP. Here’s a highlight reel of his performance in the Combine:
During his brief career in Akron, Lewis stood out as a playmaker, tallying 12 assists to go along with 2 goals scored, and being awarded the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year honor. The one time Chicago Fire Academy member also recently featured for the USMNT U-20 squad ahead of the 2017 CONCACAF U20 Championship.
According to NYCFC radio announcer Glenn Crooks, the newly-acquired midfielder knew that he was five-borough-bound after meeting with Blues headman Patrick Vieira. Vieira apparently told Lewis, "We're going to see you soon" in a meeting yesterday. So much like last year with Jack Harrison, NYCFC identified Jonathan Lewis as their guy and did whatever was needed to make sure they acquire him. And if he’s anything like Jack Harrison, we could be looking at very action-packed 2017 for the Boys in Blue.
Listed as both a midfielder and a winger, it will be interesting to see how Patrick Vieira deploys Lewis this season. A team with no shortage of attacking talent, Lewis’ selection comes right on the heels of the club acquiring Panamanian International Miguel Camargo on loan as well, himself a speedy attacking midfielder who has also spent time on the wings in his career.
In either event, the future looks bright both for Jonathan Lewis and New York City FC.