Not that there can be a true winner of a draft, but, like, Minnesota United totally won the MLS SuperDraft.
Well, unless you count expansion rival Atlanta United announcing mid-draft that it had signed one of the world's top young players in Argentinean Ezequiel Barco for a reportedly record-breaking transfer fee. Or the Philadelphia Union also mid-draft sending $1.2 million in allocation money to the Chicago Fire for designated player David Accam.
But those moves aside, the Loons went into Friday's draft in Philadelphia with three picks and, thanks to three trades, came out with five players and $75,000 in general allocation money while spending $100,000 in targeted allocation money. United also filled several areas of need, securing depth at forward, outside back and goalkeeper.
"People were really surprised and pleased," United coach Adrian Heath said. "When you look at it on paper, what we've picked up, it was a really good day for us."
The Loons started off their whirlwind first round by trading their No. 5 overall pick to Chicago for $75,000 of general allocation money, $100,000 in targeted allocation money, the No. 15 pick and goalkeeper Matt Lampson. Heath said this trade gave United the extra funds to make its other trades of the day.
Lampson started his MLS career with the Columbus Crew in 2012 before playing with Chicago the past two seasons where he set career highs in 2017 with 24 starts, eight shutouts and 58 saves. He will likely slot in at backup between starter Bobby Shuttleworth and third-choice Alex Kapp.
United then traded $150,000 of targeted allocation to the Montreal Impact for the No. 7 spot, which the Loons used on Indiana forward Mason Toye, a Generation Adidas player whose salary won't count against the cap. Toye, last year's Big Ten Freshman of the Year, calls himself a dangerous goal-scorer who is "pretty exciting to watch." The rookie is looking forward to combining with current United strikers Christian Ramirez and Abu Danladi.
"I definitely first and foremost want to pick their brains and try to learn as much as possible from them to try to emulate what they've been able to do in the league," Toye said. "They're really, really good players."
With their newly acquired No. 15 pick, the Loons took defender Wyatt Omsberg out of Dartmouth, a two-time Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. The Loons then traded with Toronto FC for the No. 23 pick in exchange for $50,000 of targeted allocation money and the Loons' fifth pick in the second round (28th overall). With the 23rd pick, United took Duke defender Carter Manley, a right back who can also play in the central defense and the midfield.
Manley trained with United for a week at the end of July. "A really intense week, very competitive, very high-level." Manley said of his time with United. "I just enjoyed the coaching, the players, everything about it."
Heath said those three picks were all ones United wanted. The Loons' last move, selecting Omaha midfielder Xavier Gomez with the 41st pick, was just a bonus.
These picks will join United for training camp, which begins Monday, in hopes of signing officially with the team.
And there are more additions coming, according to Heath, which is why he wasn't upset about Atlanta and Philadelphia's upstaging of his team.
"Hey, that's great for them two clubs, but I'm not too worried," Heath said. "We've got one or two irons in the fire now, and we're hopeful of getting some work down on them in the next few days."