FRISCO, Texas – The MLS draft season is here! The 2023 SuperDraft begins this Wednesday, December 21 at 4PM CT and what will be an entirely virtual event held on MLS's social channels. You can also keep up with the draft on Twitter using the hashtag #SuperDraft.
Here are some things to keep in mind before FC Dallas makes its picks Wednesday afternoon.
FC Dallas' Draft Positions
This year, Dallas owns the 24th, 53rd and 82nd overall picks over the draft's three rounds. It's actually the lowest top pick FCD has ever had in a SuperDraft due to its strong finish in 2022 plus the ever-increasing number of teams in the league. It's also a big contrast to last year's draft when Dallas had three first-round picks, including two in the top 10 (the third was acquired during the draft itself). Still, there's still plenty of talent all throughout the draft, as late first-round pick Tsiki Ntsabeleng showed last season.
General Draft Strategies
In most drafts – regardless of the sport or league – there’s draft theme: Should you draft for your roster’s specific needs or draft based on the highest value pick left on the board?
Marco Ferruzzi, FCD's Director of Methodology who's highly involved in Dallas' draft process, explains: “We’ve done it both ways, I would say. I think when we’ve done it the best, we go for best quality. When you draft for a position, it’ll sometimes lead you astray from your better instincts. If you get fixed on a position, you might be passing up someone who actually has more projection and your instincts tell you is going to make it. So, we try to inform ourselves about who is the top player that has the best projection to make it. The bonus is that they fit into our system, our culture and into our playing style. If they happen to match a position of need, even better.”
FC Dallas head coach Nico Estévez echoed that draft philosophy: "It depends. Sometimes you have very clear (positional) needs and you go for that. Other times you just go for the best available player in that moment. In the draft, you can have a general idea about what you want, but sometimes the draft moves in a different way and you have to be prepared and ready to make a different decision to adjust and adapt. I think that's what we're doing over these next few days, preparing ourselves to make the right decision in that moment and be able to adapt if we need to."
North Texas SC's Draft Impact
The addition of North Texas SC in 2019 has also affected Dallas' draft strategy and how their picks develop. After being selected in the first round of the 2020 SuperDraft by FCD, defender Nkosi Tafari spent his rookie season playing exclusively for North Texas SC in USL League One. With a year of development in USL League One under his belt, Tafari was able to break into FCD's starting lineup in 2021 and has proved himself a strong MLS-level starter. And Dallas is hoping its 2022 top pick Isaiah Parker can follow in his footsteps after spending his first season in MLS NEXT Pro with NTSC while adapting to a new position. In essence, Dallas doesn't always expect its draft picks to make an immediate impact with the first team.
Former Draft Picks
FC Dallas has four of its former SuperDraft picks on its roster for 2023: Ema Twumasi (2018), Nkosi Tafari (2020), Isaiah Parker (2022) and Tsiki Ntsabeleng (2022). Both Twumasi and Tafari spent time on loan in the lower leagues prior to becoming first team regulars and Isaiah Parker - who spent 2022 adapting from left wing to left back in MLS NEXT Pro - will look to do the same. Ntsabeleng, who Dallas traded up to draft at 28th overall last January, was mainly an impact sub and part-time starter over his rookie year.