Updated: Jan 9
By Ben Wright (@benwright), editor.
Nashville SC have another opportunity to add to their roster on Thursday, selecting second overall in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. Although clubs have started to place less value on acquiring players directly from the collegiate ranks in recent years, there are still quality players to be found.
Below is a list of players who are eligible to be selected that we think would be a good fit for Nashville SC. While Nashville have the second pick in the draft, they won't select again until pick 28 unless they make a move to acquire a higher pick. Thus, it's not likely they'll select more than one of the players listed here.
1. Jack Maher - Center back, Indiana
Maher is undisputedly the best defensive prospect in the draft. At 6'2", he's a commanding presence with decent ability to pass out of the back. He likely won't step in and automatically win a starting role, but he has the talent to develop into a regular at the MLS level. He's signed to a Generation adidas contract, meaning he'll occupy a supplemental roster spot and won't count against the salary cap.
2. Daryl Dike - Striker, Virginia
The younger brother of former Portland Timbers striker Bright Dike, Daryl Dike is a lone striker who has the physical presence to be a successful target forward in MLS, making him an interesting prospect for Gary Smith's side. He has all the physical and mental tools to succeed in MLS, and looks ready to impact the game off the bench or in an occasional start. Dike has signed a Generation adidas contract.
3. Robbie Robinson - Forward, Clemson
Robinson is a versatile attacker who can play anywhere across the front line, coming off one of the best NCAA seasons in recent memory. Scoring 18 and assisting nine more, Robinson was named the 2019 Mac Hermann Trophy winner, given to the best player in collegiate soccer. Although Nashville has several options up front, Robinson has potential to develop into a game-changer in MLS. Robinson is another Generation adidas player.
4. Dylan Nealis - Right back, Georgetown
Another prospect with family ties to MLS, with his older brother Sean Nealis currently playing for the New York Red Bulls. Labelled by Ives Galarcep as "the most pro-ready defender in the draft", Nealis would be an interesting pick for a side that wouldn't mind another option at right back.
5. Miguel Berry - Striker, San Diego
Another lone striker option, Berry scored 17 goals in 2019 and at 6'3" looks able to play with his back to goal and be a focal point to relieve pressure in possession. More of a long-term project than Dike, Berry likely will be taken later in the first round.
6. Henry Kessler - Center back, Virginia
The 6'4" defender isn't quite at the same level as Maher, and would raise eyebrows if taken second overall, but he's a talented defender who could develop into a starting calibre center back in his first season. Kessler is signed with Generation adidas.
7. Dayonn Harris - Winger, UConn
Mike Jacobs loves a vertical threat, and Harris has pace for days. Likely the fastest player in the draft, Harris would provide another option on either flank and would be a good impact player off the bench in certain scenarios.
8. Aaron Molloy - Defensive Midfielder, Penn State
Although their starting central midfield group looks set, Nashville could use another player to provide depth. The Irish midfielder covers a tremendous amount of ground and has acceleration rarely seen in a holding midfielder. A leader on the field, Molloy can act as an offensive catalyst from a deeper lying position, scoring six goals and assisting two in 2019. Molloy was named to the second team All-American in 2019.
9. Ryan Raposo - Winger, Syracuse
More of a long-term prospect on the wings, Raposo is a dynamic attacker, and on a Generation adidas contract, he won't count against the salary cap. He has the potential to be a first-year contributor at the MLS level and fits the needs of several clubs in the league.
10. Cal Jennings - Forward, Central Florida
Arguably the best pure finisher in the draft, Jennings could be a dangerous player with the right service. With Hany Mukhtar underneath him and Randall Leal whipping in crosses from the left, Jennings could find plenty of chances if drafted by Nashville.
The 2020 MLS SuperDraft kicks off at 11 am central on Thursday, January 9. The first two rounds will be streamed on Twitter in a jointly produced show by MLS and ESPN, with round three and four taking place via conference call on January 13. Most selections will enter training camp with the club, but not all will sign a contract, often signing with the affiliate USL club or an independent side (for example, Alan Winn left camp with Colorado Rapids to sign with Nashville).
Make sure to follow @SpeedwaySoc on Twitter for minute-by-minute coverage of the draft, as well as a full recap on SpeedwaySoccer.com.