It’s that time of the year again. It’s SuperDraft time. Before Los Angeles FC officially get put on the clock on Friday, SB Nation held their annual mock draft to see how it all could play out. While mock drafts, especially in MLS circles, are never accurate, it’s fun to see the thought process behind each team’s needs and desires.
Atlanta United hold three selections in the top two rounds of this year’s draft. They still possess their natural first round and second round picks for finishing fourth in the East. That will see them pick No. 14 in the first and No. 37 in the second. Atlanta also acquired the No. 36 overall pick in the mega deal with Sporting Kansas City in December that sent Alex Tambakis and Kenwyne Jones’ rights to KC in exchange for Kevin Oliveira and Tyler Pasher, two players who will bolster Atlanta United’s newly formed USL team.
Keeping with that theme of building up Atlanta United 2, we believe that this draft will be all about finding players to help complete the reserve team’s inaugural roster. That’s the beauty of having a USL team, you can plan for the future. Having three draft picks in the first two rounds allows you to draft for potential and hope the players develop with playing time in the USL.
Unfortunately, college soccer isn’t as accessible to the mainstream soccer fans as college football or basketball is. Frankly, I wanted a grand total of zero minutes of college soccer this season. Thankfully, Detroit City FC head coach Ben Pirmann was kind enough to share his scouting dossier with Dirty South Soccer. In it was write-ups of his personal firsthand experiences in watching nearly every top draft prospect being considered.
It was an extremely valuable asset in helping us choose the best option, in our estimation, for Atlanta United’s selections. With each of our selections, we’ll be sharing a snippet or two of Pirmann’s thoughts on the selection to give you an idea of why we picked them.
Here’s each of the first three picks we ended up with:
Round 1, Pick 14 - Tim Kubel - Louisville - Right Back
When possessing a mid-round pick, initial plans don’t always go your way. Our first and second options were center backs, a position that Atlanta United 2 are thin at currently after Miles Robinson presumably is sent there to develop a little more. However, when both of those options were off the board, it was time to find the best defender available. With both of George Bello and Jose Hernandez as options at left back, right back was a position that seemed to be needed.
Kubel was rated highly be Pirmann and respectably by Top Drawer Soccer. The only downside to his selection is that he’d require an international slot. However, if loaned to Atlanta United 2 for the 2018 season that doesn’t seem like it would be an issue.
An accomplished senior from the ACC would provide some stability to a back line that will be foreign to each other.
Pirmann’s take: “Best outside back in the class, and can do it all. Very good service of the ball as well as ability to finish from outside the box... An overall steady player will bring consistency and competency to any club...”
Round 2, Pick 36 - Diego Campos - Clemson - Attacking Midfielder
Heading into the second round it was all about finding positions of need. With a basically incomplete roster for AU2, it’s hard to project out the lineup and where there are holes. To our best calculations, a No. 10 is lacking for the USL side. Campos wasn’t our first or second option as an attacking midfielder, but he seemed to be the best on the board when our pick came up.
A lot of our decisions will either look smart or not when it’s determined whether or not Andrew Carleton is kept in Atlanta or sent to Gwinnett. I chose to believe he’s good enough to be a first-team regular and thus the G-Unit will need some help in the creativity department. Campos is said to have great technique and the ability to make plays. As he was the best available in his position, he gets the call.
Pirmann’s take: “Technically gifted player that controlled the game for Clemson for the past few seasons. Has an aggressive demeanor and emotional temper but can use it for the good. Attacks well with very good range of pass and shot.”
Round 2, Pick 37 - Carter Manley - Duke - Center Back/Full Back
Rounding of the trio of picks in the top two rounds we shifted focus back to the defense once again. The central defense needs some reinforcements. When looking at Atlanta United, Michael Parkhurst seems like a great example of a Tata Martino style center back.
When examining the available defenders who could fit the mold of versatile and mobile ball-playing center back, Carter Manley stuck out. He played in a three-man back line and can play multiple defensive positions. If Atlanta is looking for a similar style of center back to develop for the long run to replace Parkhurst, Manley could be a decent option.
Pirmann’s take: “Has very good athleticism and is a versatile defender. He played mainly as a right center back in a 3 back, but will probably be deployed as a more traditional outside back.”
That’s how our mock draft played out. Our picks are surely to be wrong, but that’s how it went down. What do you think of our picks? Would you be excited to see any of them in Gwinnett?
The full results of the mock draft can be found on SB Nation.