Photo cred: SBI
A wild day in Baltimore somehow ended with NYCFC introducing the #1 overall pick as their newest player. What began as complete confusion and eventually frustration from fans ultimately turned into cautious optimism heading into a season where room for error will be difficult to find, especially early on with 4 straight home games after an initial road tilt.
The Chicago Fire entered the day with the #1 overall pick in the draft and even though Jack Harrison, Midfielder out of Wake Forrest, seemed to be the obvious choice for them, rumors swirled in the hours leading up to the draft that Chicago would be trading their pick. With a new coach and new philosophy, it seemed the Fire would use the pick as part of their rebuild and that Harrison was not what they were looking for. However, the draft began at 1 p.m. ET and sure enough, Commissioner Don Garber took the stage and announced Jack Harrison as the first overall selection in the 2016 MLS Super Draft and newest member of the Chicago Fire.
Now………..going into the draft, we NYCFC fans knew that City had one BIG hole to fill and that was on defense. This team has not yet replaced players like Shay Facey and even though Siriboe was awful, they haven’t replaced his body. The team is low on defenders heading into 2016 so seeing Harrison, a midfielder, taken at #1 gave a sigh of relief to many fans because that meant both Joshua Yaro and Brandon Vincent, the top 2 defensive prospects in the draft, were still available. NYC entered the draft with the #4 pick so the hope was that Philly, holding both the #2 & #3 pick would only need one of those defenders, allowing the second to fall into the hands of the Sky Blue. This is indeed what happened: Yaro was taken with the 2 pick and then Philly shockingly took Keegan Resenberry, another defender out of Georgetown, with their third pick. It was a shocking selection since Vincent was the clear go-to pick (at least to the analysts) and had many members of the media tweeting things such as “NYCFC will want to thank the Union for that pick.”
So that should’ve been it – NYC picks Brandon Vincent, we get a really good defensive prospect to mold for a grueling MLS season, the draft is considered a win and everyone is happy………….but as you know, something else happened instead.
At first, it was reported NYC traded the #4 pick to the Chicago Fire for allocation money. Chicago then took Vincent with the pick and, at the time, were holding both Harrison and Vincent, a major win for Chicago. It was then reported just a few minutes later that NYC would also receive a player to be named later from Chicago. Speculation immediately began on who it was. After all, NYC had tried to tag Harrison as a home grown player and MLS rejected this bid. Could they have made a move for Harrison? How could this be possible? Why would Chicago trade their #1 pick AND allocation money for the #4 pick? It made no logical sense!!
All of a sudden the cameras showed Harrison receiving a call and news spread that it was indeed him heading to Yankee Stadium. He switched his scarf from red to sky blue as reports finally confirmed that it was NYCFC that sent the allocation money to Chicago…so in the end, it was NYCFC trading their #4 pick and allocation money, bypassing Vincent and taking Harrison, the undisputed #1 overall prospect available in the draft and the man they always wanted. A wild day indeed but no doubt a happy ending for the Sky Blue.
So what now for NYC? There are certainly some moves that still need to be made. In the first 4 rounds of the draft, this was the only pick NYCFC had. Furthermore, with Harrison being a midfielder, there are still plenty of holes in the back 4 and I don’t care how excited you are for Villa, Lampard and Pirlo; this team is not finding any success without a better back 4 than whatever crap they put out there last season.
I had said on a previous podcast I desired for NYC to pick up Jeremy Hall and Drew Moor but Moor signed with Toronto (a great move by the Reds) and it looks like Hall might be staying in New England. NYC need defensemen and they need them now with training camp right around the corner. Furthermore, there’s a flood in the midfield. I’m not saying Harrison is starting opening day (he totally would for a few other teams) but NYC now has leverage to buy into his future and make a trade for a defenseman.
The first two names brought up to trade (at least on Twitter) were Poku and Mix Diskerud, which obviously made a lot of NYC fans unhappy. Poku I don’t think is going anywhere. One of the reasons Jason Kreis is out of a job right now is because he mishandled the use of Poku throughout the season. Poku is a fan favorite and I’m pretty sure NYCFC management care more about their brand than winning (bold statement?) so I think he stays.
But Mix…..oh boy, Mix: you might not want to hear this but the hard truth is Mix may be the one to go. First of all, Mix is coming off a rough season both for club and country. If we judged our players the way we judged our head coach, Mix would probably be in the same car as Kreis leaving the stadium. Secondly, I’m not sure Mix will 100% fit into Veira’s system. In fact, I’m not even sure Veira has a system – go listen to my podcast with Andres, Dane, and Robert where ripped this signing. That being said he IS the coach and will probably revolve everything around his 3 Designated Players, something that doesn’t necessarily help Mix. Thirdly, Mix has an expensive contract and he did not earn it last season. I don’t think it’s an unattractive contract to other teams because he IS a good player, a USMNT player, and, maybe most importantly, not a DP contract. Look, you’re not going to rip any teams off; if you want to get something you’ll need to give up something. Therefore, if you stop thinking emotionally about it you’ll understand that if we give from the bottom of our midfield, we will not receive a good enough defenseman to solve our problems. I therefore am going on the record as saying that if management can get a good defenseman for him, I’m in favor of a Mix trade.
Another possible player to move that you could get a good return on would be Shelton. The only reason I don’t think this happens is because, as the #2 pick overall last year, NYC was committing to Shelton long term, just like they hope to do with Harrison.
Training camp is just a couple months away. NYC has the scoring it needs, it has a strong midfielder and it has its core players for a full camp and season to make some special. It also has its goalie ready to create the brick wall he was for us so many times last season. However, if they don’t anchor the back 4, we will find ourselves complaining about the same things again in year 2 of this franchise.
P.S. As a native Bostonian and born Revolution fan, I feel obligated to just throw in a quick note about the #10 pick the Revs picked up yesterday. Jordan McCrary, a defender out of North Carolina, was not expected to fall to the #10 and when he did, New England ran to pick him up. Any MLS fan who has been following the league for awhile will know that New England are maybe the best drafters in the league. Half their roster is made up of draft picks from Tierney and Farrel to Rowe, Caldwell and Barnes and this is a team that was just 5 minutes from a shootout in the MLS Cup 2 years ago. Jay Heaps has done an outstanding job building that team with a Moneyball philosophy and it would do teams like NYCFC, Atlanta, LAFC and other newcomers a lot of good to take note of what they’re doing up in Foxboro.
P.P.S. Here is some material on your newest NYCFC member, Jack Harrison: