Draft Day. A make or break moment for hundreds of young stars across the country. For a club whose academy is still in the infancy stage, this is the best way to get young talent. Last year’s Superdraft yielded a wildly successful first round for Minnesota United. Abu Danladi went on to not only be a valuable addition to the team off the bench, but also produced several game winners for the Loons and was an able deputy to Christian Ramirez when called upon. Our number one overall pick went on to finish second in the Rookie of the Year voting behind Atlanta’s Julian Gressel.
The Loons were able to take four players directly from this year’s draft: three players in the first round, followed by one in the second. They also walked away with some extra money in the bank and keeper Matt Lampson. The Loons front office was widely praised for their wheeling and dealing, but none of that matters if they can’t get any production out of the new kids on the block. Quality can be found at any round of the draft and the Loons will be hoping for output across the board. Third place in the Rookie of the Year vote was defender Jack Elliott, taken in the fourth round after former Loon Tanner Thompson and current Loon by way of Atlanta, Alex Kapp.
Let’s take a look at which of these four has the best chance to make an impact and drive the Loons into the playoffs.
Mason Toye, Forward, 19: The biggest thing that Toye has going for him is hat he is an incredible athlete. Fast enough to beat people stronger than him, and strong enough to beat people faster than him. As a freshman he notched some very important goals for his Hoosiers and was rewarded for his efforts with numerous accolades. There are, however, a few things standing in his way, namely one Christian Ramirez and the aforementioned Abu Danladi. Both of them have significantly more experience have proven themselves to be deadly goalscorers when called upon. Toye is 6’3” and has the potential to be dangerous in the air and on the ground, traits that Superman showed off last year. Neither Danladi or Ramirez will be leaving for the World Cup this summer, limiting Toye’s chances. A potential strike partnership of any two of those three could be fun to watch, but I think Toye needs another year of playing with the big boys before he can be the force he was at Indiana University.
Wyatt Omsberg, Center Back, 22: After the Demidov fiasco, the Loons went young on defense. Omsberg stands at 6’4”, which should be a benefit as the Loons look to lock down their leaky defense. Based on limited footage of Dartmouth games, he looks fairly comfortable with the ball at his feet and strong in a tackle. If paired beside a more experienced centerback and a vocal goalkeeper who are able to help him adapt to the faster pace of MLS, then I see no reason why Wyatt Omsberg can’t be the centerback that Demidov wasn’t. With Francisco Calvo headed to the World Cup with Los Ticos, someone will need to deputize for our fearless leader. Any combination of injuries or loss or form could send Michael Boxall to right or left back, or even into midfield, leaving the former Dartmouth standout to match up with the best this league has to offer.
Carter Manley, Outside Back, 21: After signing 34 year-old Tyrone Mears and letting go of utility man Ismaila Jome, the Loons needed to inject some youth at outside back. Carter was just the Man(ley) for the job. While at Duke he nailed down a starting role in his final two years and frequently joined in on the attack. This makes him essentially an auxiliary winger. Not exactly something the attack was missing, but he has plenty of pace to get up and down the wings and what looks to be a decent delivery as well. Even with the addition of Tyrone Mears, outside back looks to be an issue on the Loons Depth Chart. Marc Burch and local favorite Jerome Thiesson of #apetforjerry fame were the first choice outside backs last year. Burch struggled with an injury in the middle of the season and both are on the wrong side of 30. As much as I would love to see Jerry go to the World Cup with Switzerland, I’m not banking on it. If Jerry or Burch needs a break, Manley may get a shot to impress and if he can show the same tenacity he did at Duke, he may force Adrian Heath into the kind of selection headache that the Loons were rarely blessed with last season.
Xavier Gomez, Attacking Midfielder, 23: Xavier Gomez might just be the closest thing the Loons have to a classic #10 right now. The Loons took the University of Nebraska Omaha product in the second round and was their fourth and final pick in the draft. He joins alumni from cross-town rivals Creighton University Alex Kapp, Ethan Finley, and Brent Kallman. Gomez is just the second player ever drafted out of UNO, the first being Emir Alihodzic in 2016. Should Sam Cronin stay healthy and keep the back line protected, Adrian Heath may choose to deploy a player like Gomez in the attack. He’s shown himself to have some fast feet and an eye for a pass in his time in Omaha and he has a shot to take those skills to the next level in this Minnesota team that is just crying out for a player to tie together what could be a potent attack.
Which rookie would you like to see take the field first?
This poll is closed
If I had to pick just one...
Out of these four, the one that I would most like to see is Carter Manley. Not only could he take some of the pressure of the aging outside backs, but he also has the potential to be a very good two way player, linking into the attack with overlapping runs as well as outfoxing opposing wingers to pick their pockets and feed the ball back up field.