If you needed a flow chart to keep all the action in the first round of the Major League Soccer SuperDraft straight, you weren't alone. A flurry of trades in the first 12 picks completely changed the landscape of the draft, and it took a long time to untangle some of the threads of what was going on -- including a big move made right at the start of the draft.
Wake Forest midfielder Jack Harrison was something of a surprise pick by the Chicago Fire as the first overall pick of the draft, but he didn't stay there for long. He was involved in a confusing trade almost right away -- when MLS commissioner Don Garber took the podium for the fourth pick, he announced that New York City FC had traded it to Chicago in a "trade involving allocation money." Reporters were further confused by Harrison being held out of the media interviews that the second and third picks were quickly involved in -- soon followed by fourth overall pick Brandon Vincent, a fullback out of Stanford who headed to the Fire as part of the unresolved deal.
Matters were muddled more when Garber mentioned between two later picks that NYCFC would receive a "player to be named later," but declined to say who. Still later he confirmed while discussing another trade with a PTBNL that MLS wouldn't name the player because he hadn't been notified yet -- but all the rumors coming out of the media room was that Harrison was the guy going to NYCFC, and he was right there with his hands in his pockets wondering what was going on.
Eventually, finally, the trade was made official: NYCFC acquired Harrison in with Chicago receiving Vincent and allocation money in exchange, giving New York the player they had reportedly targeted as "the guy" they wanted above all others coming into the draft. It took all the way until the ninth pick and over half an hour into the draft to get everything sorted out, and that only set the tone for the day.
Confused yet? We're far from done.
The Philadelphia Union were busy in the trade market as well, acquiring the second overall pick from the Colorado Rapids right before the draft began to add to the third and sixth picks as well, the latter of which had been previously acquired from the Houston Dynamo. They took Josh Yaro with the second pick, a central defender from Georgetown who was seen by many as the best player in the draft, and certainly its best defender. They paired him up with a familiar face with the third pick, another Georgetown defender in fullback Keegan Rosenberry, and took Creighton midfielder Fabian Herbers with the sixth overall selection in an active first round flurry.
Those were far from the only other trades made, though -- the Seattle Sounders traded the 15th overall pick and allocation money to Chicago for a player to be named later that Sounder at Heart later confirmed to be defender Joevin Jones. While that trade hasn't been made official yet -- Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey later joked on the draft broadcast that they hadn't yet been able to get a hold of the player they'd acquired -- that move helped kick off another series of trades.
Chicago eventually used that pick to move up to the 12th overall pick held by Colorado, who had before the draft acquired it from the LA Galaxy. The Fire used that pick to draft North Carolina defender Jonathan Campbell, with the Rapids taking Cincinnati midfielder Emmanuel Appiah at 15. That trade saw the Fire and Rapids swap second round picks, and also trade spots in the allocation order -- Chicago had been at number one in the ranking used to bring USMNT stars back to MLS from abroad with Colorado second, but now the Rapids have the first option on incoming national team talent.
D.C. United grabbed an extra pick in a trade with Sporting Kansas City to acquire the 11th overall selection to take Julian Buescher -- then after a draft timeout and much animated gesturing from D.C. manager Ben Olsen, United sent their natural 13th overall pick to Orlando City for targeted allocation money and a second round pick. Orlando used that selection to take Hadji Barry from Central Florida, the first out-and-out striker taken in the draft.
So there you have it: eight separate trades just in the first round, with two picks changing hands multiple times. The second round saw a few more trades as well, including two more draft spots that changed hands twice, and a pair of picks that were held by four separate teams before being used. It made for a chaotic draft day that left everyone spinning in circles trying to keep track of the action, with even the MLS commentary team covering the draft struggling to keep up at times.
Even the last pick of the day was involved in a trade, and one of some minor historical note: the 41st pick of the draft, used by Columbus Crew SC to draft striker Marshall Hollingsworth from Wheaton had been acquired from now-defunct franchise Chivas USA back in 2014, back before Chivas were still operating and acquiring players.
Now that the first day of the draft is complete, you can catch up on every player chosen in our draft tracker, and check out all the draft coverage from our team sites as well. The draft will resume on January 19th, with the third and fourth rounds being completed via conference call.