Chicago Fire pick Jack Harrison first in MLS SuperDraft, trade him to NYCFC
BALTIMORE -- Trades were the order of the day at the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
The Chicago Fire selected Wake Forest midfielder Jack Harrison with the first pick of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, only to trade him to New York City FC for general allocation money and the No. 4 overall pick.
Chicago used that selection to pick Stanford defender Brandon Vincent.
The Philadelphia Union were active as well, taking the No. 2 overall selection from the Colorado Rapids in exchange for general allocation money. That deal gave the Union the second, third, and sixth overall picks in the draft.
The Union selected Georgetown defender Josh Yaro at No. 2, took another Georgetown defender in Keegan Rosenberry at No. 3, and then chose Creighton forward Fabian Herbers at No. 6.
The activity had Harrison's head spinning. The 19-year-old donned a Fire scarf and then thanked the club for its faith in him as he addressed the crowd. But the trade involving the Fire and NYCFC was soon announced, and Harrison was referred to as a player to be named later. Harrison then had to wait over a half hour to see where he ended up.
When asked if he was aware of the backroom dealings, Harrison said, "I had no idea. Me and my mom were just standing there going, 'What's going on?' It was a whirlwind, but I'm looking forward to making that next step."
The England-born Harrison, a former member of Manchester United's academy, played high school soccer in Massachusetts before playing one year for Wake, where he was an All-American and ACC offensive player of the year.
NYCFC had long coveted Harrison, and earlier this month attempted to sign him as a homegrown player, but the club's claim was ultimately rejected by the league. New York City still ended up getting its man.
"He's a modern winger," NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said. "He can come inside, he can go on the line, he can score goals, and he's really good in the 1-v-1 situations. He's the type of modern winger than you like to have in the team.
"He's young, but I'm sure he will have a massive part to play in our squad. He's enthusiastic, he's full of energy, and this is what we want."
Yaro had long been considered the top prospect in the draft. But concerns about whether the 5-foot-11 defender will play center-back or right-back at the professional level saw his stock drop ever so slightly, allowing Harrison -- who sat out the MLS Player Combine with a groin injury -- to slide into the top spot. That didn't appear to bother Yaro at all.
"It's a great day. It's the dream of every college player and everyone that is sitting down there waiting to be drafted," said Yaro. "It's great and it's something I will treasure for the rest of my life."
Yaro later added, "Everyone rated me as the No. 1 pick, but what I said to a lot of people was, 'It doesn't matter where you end up.' You're going to start from scratch once you start in preseason. The guy that went No. 1 rightly deserves it. He's a good player, he is someone that has worked hard for it. I'm definitely happy to end up with the Union."
Vincent, a left-back, was invited to the U.S. national team's training camp this month.
Before the draft began, the LA Galaxy traded their only pick of the day to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for targeted allocation money as the California club continues to stockpile cash in their reported pursuit of Ashley Cole and/or Joleon Lescott.
Later in the draft, the Fire moved up from No. 15 to No. 12 in a trade that sent their top allocation ranking to Colorado. ESPN's Taylor Twellman reported that the Rapids were interested in signing United States international Alejandro Bedoya with that allocation ranking.
Homegrown players such as Stanford's Jordan Morris were not eligible for the draft. Morris' MLS rights are already held by the Seattle Sounders, though he could still choose to sign for Werder Bremen, where he's been training this month.
Rounds 3 and 4 will take place via conference call on Tuesday.