In Chicago, all 24 teams met for this year’s SuperDraft, a drafting process so that MLS teams can pick college players that they want to have in their squad. FC Dallas had the 4th and 10th pick in the 1st round and had none in the 2nd round. Third and fourth rounds will occur via conference call on Monday, January 14th
Today in Chicago, at the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, FC Dallas selected center back Callum Montgomery and left back John Nelson. Both picks were selected in the first round, as FC Dallas previously made trades with Colorado and Montreal during the year. Montgomery is a senior who previously played for UNC-Charlotte, while Nelson is a sophomore who played for UNC-Chapel Hill, and who is also on a Generation Adidas contract.
Both players did relatively well at the combine, but their college careers are what truly stand out. Nelson has played nearly every single game for the Tar Heels since he has been there. In his freshmen year in college, he started every single game for them, which is unheard of in college soccer. Montgomery is considered the top center back prospect in the draft pool. This season, he was part of the All-American first team. He was also a first-team Google Cloud Academic All-American and was a Mac Hermann semifinalist.
The FC Dallas squad has starters in every position, so these two picks were probably made in order to have defensive depth, and possibly two defenders that could contribute regularly for North Texas SC. Both players also have the quality to start for the team if need be, and both will probably have the opportunity to impress, as Luchi attempts to build the squad that he wants to begin the year with.
Montgomery is an interesting pick because it probably spells the end of Richards’ tenure here at the club for good. Although not officially reported by the club, Sam Stejskal mentioned that Richards was on his way to a permanent move to Bayern Munich, and Ives Galarcep reported that the move was in the works in December. It seems that the club wouldn’t stack the squad with five starting caliber center backs, so it is safe to say that the announcement of Chris’ departure should come out in the next couple of weeks. While it is sad that we are losing a talent in Richards, the club did right for him, and was generously compensated for a player that never saw the field in Frisco.
Montgomery shouldn’t really be seen as a downgrade to Richards, as he has enormous talent. As mentioned before, he was the best defender in college this year. He is a tall, left sided center back who is comfortable with both feet. He is a good distributor, and good in the air. One comparison that was made between him and an MLS player is, ironically, Matt Hedges, as he is of the same build as Hedges was when he was drafted back in 2012. He should compete for minutes between Bressan, Ziegler, and Moises.
Nelson is another Swiss Army knife for Luchi to use this year. He displayed his versatility at the combine for both fullback positions, and it should be mentioned that he started a couple games for the Tar Heels last year at center back. He was ranked the No. 1 player in the 2017 class by College Soccer News, and he has lived up to his name. He has speed and at the same time gives a bit of defensive stability, similar to Ryan Hollingshead. The only winger depth behind Mosquera, Barrios, and Paxton are Twumasi and Atuahene, who were both injury prone last year. If Hollingshead is forced to move around to patch weak spots on the team, Nelson could legitimately compete with Pedroso for first team minutes.
The third and fourth rounds are generally known to be lacking in talent, so these two will probably be the biggest contributors from the draft this year. Unlike many, I believe that Montgomery and Nelson will be useful in rotation, as Ziegler will probably suffer from injuries if forced to play a big role this year. These two are, in my opinion, amazing picks, and real tools that the staff can use this year. They are also somewhat polished players in their playstyle, meaning that they aren’t players the club needs to put resources in developing, like Haji or Buchanan. They are players that plug holes in an already-deep team, and the club made two very good choices this year in the draft