When the 2024 MLS SuperDraft is broadcast tomorrow on Apple TV Season Pass, New York City FC will have the eighth overall pick. NYCFC might have missed the playoffs in 2023, but the upshot of finishing in 22nd place in the 29-team league is you get to mill around towards the head of the line on draft day.
It’s a good thing, because NYCFC have some significant holes to fill in their roster. Earlier, we identified five players the club need to sign if they are competitive next season, namely striker, playmaker, left back, defensive midfielder, and central defender. Writing for MLS.com, pundit Matthew Doyle agrees that the team need “center back depth, target No 9, [and] central midfield depth.”
But the question remains, will any of those positions will be filled tomorrow? A total of 388 players are eligible to be selected. Or will NYCFC use the MLS SuperDraft to claim young players they can develop for the future?
Doyle feels that the club is unlikely to draft somebody who is going to make an immediate impact. Unless they do. “Obviously any upgrades they make will come via the transfer market, not the Draft,” Doyle writes. “That said, there’s room for a Top 10 pick to make the roster or even crack the rotation at a couple of spots.”
One to watch: Nate Jones
If NYCFC are looking to draft a player they hope to field in 2024, they might select Nate Jones, a left center-back from the University of Washington and Vermont Green FC in the NPSL. The 6′ 3″ defender is highly regarded, and will likely be a Top 10 pick.
He could provide much-needed depth in the defense, and learn from a back line anchored by Thiago Martins (28) and the newly-signed Birk Risa (25). Jones could be the player who might “even crack the rotation,” in Doyle’s words.
Or NYCFC could make another head-scratching pick who might or might not work out. Last year the club selected top prospect Malcom Johnston, but he didn’t sign with the club — he now plays for Whitecaps FC2. They went on to select MD Myers in the third round —the former Rutgers striker went on to score 19 goals for NYCFC II and was the joint-winner of the MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot.
NYCFC SuperDraft Record
- 22 Players Selected
- 12 Players Signed
- 7 Appeared with First Team
- 3 Currently with NYCFC
MLS SuperDraft picks through the years
Historically, NYCFC have done both.
In 2015, the club selected Khiry Shelton with their very first MLS SuperDraft pick. The forward came off the bench to make a substitute appearance in NYCFC’s inaugural match, a 1-1 draw with Orlando City in Florida. Shelton never fulfilled his promise at NYCFC, and was traded to Sporting Kansas City in the middle of the 2017 season, but the 30-year-old remains an active MLS player today.
The following year, the club traded for #1 draft pick Jack Harrison. He had an immediate impact. Harrison made 21 appearances for the club that year, starting 17 games. He scored four goals and contributed seven assists as he developed into David Villa’s wingman. He started 33 games the following season, scoring 10 goals and notching four assists.