New York, NY – Coming into today’s MLS Superdraft, NYCFC didn’t have a first round pick, only the 38th pick (second round). They traded their first round pick to the Seattle Sounders for the rights to Kwadwo Poku in 2015. However, after the first round, NYCFC came out with $325,000 less in allocation money, but two talented, young players. (Under new rules, the amount of allocation money traded is released)
NYCFC traded for the Chicago Fire pick again, for $250,000 in allocation money. They selected Generation Adidas midfielder/forward Jonathan Lewis from the University of Akron. NYCFC also re-acquired their pick from the Seattle Sounders, for $75,000 in allocation money. Kwame Awuah, a midfielder from the University of Connecticut, was selected with the 16th pick. In the second round, NYCFC took forward Jalen Brown of Xavier University.
MLS SuperDraft: NYCFC Pick Jonathan Lewis, Kwame Awuah, and Jalen Brown
Lewis played forward at Akron. However, he projects to be a attacking midfielder/winger in MLS. He is a similar player to Jack Harrison. Lewis hails from Florida, and played in the Chicago Fire Academy, Plantation Academy, and Kendall SC. With regard to national team affiliation, Lewis was called into the US-U20 camp, but also the Jamaican National Team camp.
After one season at Akron, Lewis decided to go pro. He played 22 games, scoring two goals, but notched 12 assists. Lewis had 21 shots on goal, with 44 total shots. Overall, he had a pretty successful year in college.
At UConn, Awuah was a two-year co-captain patrolling the Huskies midfield. In MLS he projects to be a defensive midfielder or fullback. The senior hails from Toronto, Canada, and he is a member of the Canadian National Team pool.
Awuah appeared in 83 games at UCONN, starting in 82 of them. He notched eight goals and 26 assists. While playing defensive midfield and on the back line, he only picked up three yellow cards (.03YC/Game). This statistic shows his discipline as a tackler and mental focus.
After selecting one attacking player, NYCFC decided to select another one in the second round. Hailing from Indianapolis, Brown played four seasons at Xavier University. He made the Big East all-rookie team in 2013, won numerous weekly honor awards, and many other awards. Brown is similar to Jonathan Lewis in that he can play attacking midfield or forward.
In 80 appearances at Xavier, Brown only started 38 times, which is a little worrying. Throughout his career, he notched 14 goals and eight assists. On the positive side, his best year by far was this year, with six goals and three assists.
NYCFC Draft Analysis
Coming into the draft, NYCFC had a lot of holes to fill. They needed a defensive mid, attacking mid, and center back. However, NYCFC intend to move Tommy McNamara to the number ten, so now they need some wing depth. They acquired that depth by drafting Lewis and Brown. Right now, the starting wingers figure to be Jack Harrison and either Khiry Shelton or Miguel Camargo. Lewis may compete immediately, but Brown figures to be loaned to the USL to get some development (NYCFC need a USL affiliate but that is another problem). Awuah also figures to compete for the starting defensive mid role. He may start, it just depends on if Vieira decides to move a full back, Ronald Matarrita, RJ Allen or Shannon Gomez, to CDM.
The NYCFC roster is nowhere near complete, but this draft is progress towards a solid first team. They only have 21 spots filled, with two more picks in the third round. Also, in this offseason, NYCFC have succeed in getting younger, with only four players over 30. Finally, NYCFC have a designated player spot to fill, so expect them to make a splash with this signing.