The SB Nation MLS mock draft is an annual tradition stretching back at least seven years. As the league has grown in that span, bloggers from each site that covers an active MLS team in the network come together to represent their teams and pretend to have an actual draft.
This year, Angels on Parade got to step out of the shadows where we normally act as emcee for the proceedings, and actually make selections ourselves, with Los Angeles Football Club participating this year for the first time. The SB Nation mock draft stretched two rounds, and here’s who we picked for the top pick in each of those rounds.
Round 1, No. 1: Tomas Hilliard-Arce, D, Stanford University
The big question for every draft is trying to figure out what a team’s draft strategy is. Will LAFC opt for American players, who won’t take up international slots? Will they try to swing for the fences with a Generation adidas pick who will be much cheaper on the salary budget for a season or two, but who may come with an international slot and be a project for the future? Which position do they want to prioritize? Will they go for need or talent in making their decision?
When it comes to the top pick overall, the possibilities are endless, and while LAFC could potentially trade the top slot for other assets (our SB Nation mock draft did not allow for trades), we opted for an American player due to the international slot considerations, and then a combination of talent and need.
Hilliard-Arce is widely considered to be perhaps the most MLS-ready player in this year’s draft. LAFC need players. This seems to be a no-brainer in many respects. He captained Stanford to three consecutive NCAA titles, which is even more impressive considering Stanford’s previous track record was as a pretty good school that produced some men’s pros, but nothing close to a perennial NCAA championship contender.
We also selected Hilliard-Arce because LAFC will need depth in defense. While midfield is currently the gaping hole in LAFC’s 11-man deep roster, there’s a good chance that Laurent Ciman could be called up to the Belgium national team this summer for the World Cup, and there’s also a chance Walker Zimmerman will be called up for whatever anti-World Cup tournament the U.S. is organizing. I’d say there’s a good shot a good third center back will come in handy, and having one who can play right away but is not thrown straight into the frying pan of a new expansion team seems like a prudent strategy. Then, if either of the presumed starters gets hurt or if Hilliard-Arce blossoms, he could be a real lock for the next decade in the LAFC lineup.
Round 2, No. 1 (No. 24 overall): Justin Fiddes, D, University of Washington
Obviously, when you get to the second round, priorities change a bit, and we went with Fiddes, another defender, but this one a speedy left back. A San Diego native, Fiddes has elite speed, something that always comes in handy, and he’s also two-footed, which potentially makes him versatile in the future. The 22-year-old seems to project as depth in year one for an MLS team, and chances are he’ll already be off the board by the time the second round comes around, but if he’s available, he could make a good depth option for Jordan Harvey at left back in 2018 for LAFC.
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