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The MLS SuperDraft is an annual college draft for teams of Major League Soccer in the United States and Canada. It takes place in January and is used by teams to select players who have graduated from college or otherwise been signed by the league. The SuperDraft was first instituted in 2000, as a combination of the MLS College Draft, in which players having graduated from college were selected, and the MLS Supplemental Draft, in which all other players were chosen. The draft is divided into three rounds in which each club has a selection, the order of which is determined by a combination of the teams' playoff and regular season positions, with the last placed team (or expansion teams) getting the first pick.
From 1996 to 1999, all American players graduating college were entered into the MLS College Draft, and were eligible to be selected by all Major League Soccer teams. Players who had already graduated from college were entered into a separate MLS Supplemental Draft. The division between the two was eliminated in 2000, when they were combined into a single MLS SuperDraft. Originally created to ensure strict parity in the league, the draft was designed to allow weaker clubs to develop their rosters. The first SuperDraft was held in 2000, and since then has become the primary draft of the league. Recently, the draft has been considered to be secondary to youth academies.
The importance of the SuperDraft waned in the 2010s as MLS teams established their own youth academy systems and acquired young players from other leagues. The 2020 MLS SuperDraft was conducted exclusively by conference calls and online streaming for the first time.
Only players from the American college sports system (e.g., the NCAA and the NAIA) are eligible to be drafted. Canadian U Sports men's soccer players are not included, despite numerous proposals and discussions in 2010 and 2012 when U Sports was Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). In previous SuperDrafts, a few players were drafted directly from clubs outside the U.S. or Canada.
Rules of draft selection
- Any expansion club automatically gets the first pick; should there be two expansion teams, a coin toss determines who picks first in the SuperDraft and who picks first in the expansion draft.
- Teams that did not make the playoffs are ordered by their regular-season record.
- Teams that made the MLS Cup Playoffs are then ordered by which round of the playoffs they are eliminated.
- The winners of the MLS Cup are given the last selection, and the losers the penultimate selection.
- Remaining ties are broken by the goal differential, goals scored, goals conceded, and then the flip of a coin.
|Eliminated in knockout round||18–21|
|Eliminated in conference semifinals||22–25|
|Eliminated in conference championships||26–27|
|MLS Cup finalist||28|
|MLS Cup winner||29|
List of MLS College Drafts
|1996||March 4, 1996||3||30||Fort Lauderdale, FL||Matt McKeon||Kansas City Wiz|
|1997||February 1, 1997||3||30||Fort Lauderdale, FL||Tahj Jakins||Colorado Rapids|
|1998||January 31, 1998||3||36||Fort Lauderdale, FL||Leo Cullen||Miami Fusion|
|1999||February 6, 1999||3||36||Fort Lauderdale, FL||Jason Moore||D.C. United|
List of MLS SuperDrafts
- Although the draft took place in 2022, the draft retained the 2023 MLS SuperDraft branding
- Although the draft took place in 2023, the draft retained the 2024 MLS SuperDraft branding
- Walter, Tyler (January 8, 2011). "MLS SuperDraft: Why the Rise of Youth Academies Causes the Draft To Be Obsolete". Bleacher Report. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
- McCarthy, Kyle (December 13, 2010). "Monday MLS Breakdown: Academy Programs Increasingly Influence SuperDraft Pool". Goal.com USA. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
- "Let's abandon the MLS draft". ESPN.com. January 14, 2011. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
- Creditor, Avi (January 9, 2020). "The Highs and Lows of a Dwindling MLS SuperDraft". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
- "CIS pushing for MLS draft entry: Coach". Canadian Soccer News. November 24, 2010.
- Rycroft, Ben (February 15, 2012). "Road to pros may ease for university stars". CBC Sports. CBC.