Look at the history of your team. Who are your club legends?
Names like Landon Donovan, Jaime Moreno or Kyle Beckerman probably come to mind. One thing you will notice about those three players, and many others, is that those players came from some other team before they arrived at the clubs where they became household names.
But there are a few that went on to become superstars for the same teams that drafted them.
Below are our choices for each club’s best draft pick over the course of their MLS history. As with our other SuperDraft history articles, we are only looking at players who had a massive impact with the clubs that drafted them.
Atlanta United: Julian Gressel
A few years from now this pick could change to Miles Robinson, a 2019 Best XI selection, but his fellow 2017 draftee has been more influential to the Five Stripes’ success over their first three years in the league. Gressel has 15 goals and 35 assists in 98 MLS appearances (88 starts) and has helped Atlanta win the 2018 MLS Cup, 2019 U.S. Open Cup and 2019 Campeones Cup.
Chicago Fire: C.J. Brown
Brown was selected by the Fire in the Supplemental Draft before their inaugural season. He ended up spending 13 seasons with the club, helping them take home a MLS Cup (1998), four U.S. Open Cups (1998, 2000, 2003, 2006) and a Supporters’ Shield (2003). He is currently an assistant coach for the New York Red Bulls under Fire teammate Chris Armas.
FC Cincinnati: Frankie Amaya
With just one year to go on, Amaya is the easy selection. The 2019 No. 1 pick played 1,241 minutes in his rookie season and should continue to develop under Ron Jans.
Colorado Rapids: Omar Cummings
Despite their long history, the Rapids haven’t had too much success in the SuperDraft. Their best pick comes back in 2007 when they selected Cummings in the third round. In six seasons with the club, the Jamaican international scored 39 goals and collected 27 assists. His best season came in 2010, when he scored 14 goals and helped the Rapids take home MLS Cup.
Columbus Crew SC: Chad Marshall
Drafted second overall, Marshall was an instant starter for the Crew. He spent 10 seasons with the club, making 253 appearances and helping Columbus to the 2008 MLS Cup and three Supporters’ Shields (2004, 2008, 2009). Marshall also won Defender of the Year in 2008 and 2009. He later went on to help the Seattle Sounders win three trophies, including the 2016 MLS Cup. The four-time Best XI selection is considered among the top defenders in MLS history.
D.C. United: Eddie Pope
The second pick in the inaugural MLS College Draft, Pope went on to become one of the best defenders in MLS history. He spent seven seasons with D.C., winning three MLS Cups (1996, 1997, 1999) and a Defender of the Year award (1997). He was named to two MLS Best XIs while with United (1997, 1998).
FC Dallas: Matt Hedges
This one was tough, but Hedges is the choice after eight outstanding seasons with the club. Hedges has appeared in 243 games in his eight seasons in Dallas and has led the team to five playoff appearances and was named the 2016 Defender of the Year.
Houston Dynamo: Geoff Cameron
A third-round pick in 2008, Cameron came on board with a team that had just won two straight MLS Cups. He made 23 appearances, mostly as a substitute, before becoming a starter in his second season. He was named to the 2009 Best XI and helped lead the Dynamo to a MLS Cup appearance in 2011 before leaving for Stoke City in the English Premier League in 2012.
LAFC: Tristan Blackmon
With just two drafts under their belt, LAFC have been able to find some quality pieces. The most notable is Blackmon, who has filled in at center back and right back over his first two seasons and will likely enter 2020 as the starting right back for Bob Bradley.
LA Galaxy: Omar Gonzalez
It’s strange that a team as storied as the Galaxy don’t have many draft picks over the years that became stars. One exception is Gonzalez, who was drafted third overall in 2009. In seven seasons with the club, he made 180 appearances and helped the team win three MLS Cups (2011, 2012, 2014). Individually, he won Rookie of the Year (2009), Defender of the Year (2011) and was named to the MLS Best XI four times (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014). He left the Galaxy for Liga MX and Pachuca after the 2014 campaign, but has since returned to MLS with Toronto FC
Minnesota United FC: Mason Toye
The Loons have some major hits over their first three drafts, including two in 2019 with Hassani Dotson and Chase Gasper. It was close, but Toye is the pick here thanks to his six goals in 2019. He will look to continue to increase that number in 2020.
Montreal Impact: Calum Mallace
The Impact have been unsuccessful in the SuperDraft to a shocking degree, with no regular starters selected over their eight drafts. One player who stood out was Mallace, who was selected in the second round of the 2012 SuperDraft. After two seasons spent mostly on the sidelines, Mallace emerged as a regular contributor in 2014 and made 80 league appearances over six seasons. He was a major factor in the Impact’s run to the 2015 Concacaf Champions League final.
New England Revolution: Taylor Twellman
Despite the Revs’ long history, and many successful drafts, this pick was easy. Twellman was drafted second overall in the 2002 SuperDraft and immediately became one of the best players in MLS. In seven seasons, he scored an incredible 99 goals and helped the Revolution reach four MLS Cups. He won the MVP in 2005 and was named to two Best XIs (2002, 2005). His 101 goals place him 10th in MLS history.
New York City FC: Jack Harrison
Technically, Harrison was picked by Chicago with the No. 1 overall selection of the 2016 SuperDraft, but he was immediately traded to NYCFC, the team that had already sought unsuccessfully to place a Homegrown claim on him. The young English winger made an immediate impact when he entered the lineup in early summer, and went on to collect 14 goals and 13 assists in 55 games before being sold to Manchester City prior to the 2018 season.
New York Red Bulls: Jozy Altidore
The main reason for this pick is because of the $10 million transfer fee that Spanish powerhouse Villarreal paid the Red Bulls to acquire Altidore. That kind of money was hard to come by in MLS back then, and is hard to overlook.
Orlando City SC: Cyle Larin
The 2015 expansion side hit their first pick out of the park with Larin. He scored the most goals ever by a rookie (17), easily taking home Rookie of the Year honors. After three seasons and 43 goals in Orlando, Larin was sold to Besiktas prior to the 2018 season.
Philadelphia Union: Andre Blake
Blake’s selection was a surprising one at the time, as the Union already had Rais M’bolhi and Zac MacMath on their goalkeeper depth chart (let Andrew Wiebe take you back to how that draft went down). The No. 1 pick waited his turn and since taking over the starting role in 2016, the Jamaican international has been mostly stellar. The 29-year-old was named the Goalkeeper of the Year in 2016.
Portland Timbers: Darlington Nagbe
The first draft pick by the Timbers after they joined MLS, Nagbe went No. 2 overall in the 2011 SuperDraft. Since then he has become one of the top players in MLS, making 214 appearances with the Timbers, collecting 27 goals and 30 assists plus a goal and two assists in postseason play. He was the driving force in the Timbers’ run to the 2015 MLS Cup title and later helped Atlanta United win MLS Cup in 2018.
Real Salt Lake: Tony Beltran
Players like Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Javier Morales and Nat Borchers helped RSL become a perennial contender for much of their existence in MLS. But none of those players came through the draft. One player that did is Beltran, who was selected third overall in 2008. The right back appeared in 245 matches over 10 seasons before succumbing to injuries and retiring in 2019.
San Jose Earthquakes: Chris Wondolowski
The MLS Goal King was drafted by the Quakes in the 2005 Supplemental Draft and moved with them to Houston after just one season. After three-and-a-half seasons away from Northern California, Wondo returned to San Jose and has not stopped scoring. It appears he has one more season to add to his record total of 159 goals.
Seattle Sounders: Cristian Roldan
The biggest surprise of the 2015 SuperDraft was that Roldan fell all the way to No. 16, where he could be selected by the Sounders. Seattle had plenty of chances to scout the California native who played college ball with Washington, and the central midfielder has shown that he was maybe the best player in that draft (depending on how you feel about Larin). The 24-year-old is now a regular with the USMNT and has helped the Sounders capture two MLS Cups (2016, 2019).
Sporting Kansas City: Matt Besler
it’s nearly a push between Besler and Graham Zusi but the center back was selected in the first round of the 2009 SuperDraft and has helped lead them to a decade of success. In his time with Sporting he has captured the MLS Cup (2013) and three U.S. Open Cups (2012, 2015, 2017). He was named captain prior to the 2014 season.
Toronto FC: Maurice Edu
TFC fans have seen plenty of disappointing draft picks over the years, but one bright spot was their first MLS selection in Edu. He was named Rookie of the Year in 2007 before Toronto collected a hefty transfer fee for the California native in the middle of 2008.
Vancouver Whitecaps: Tim Parker
It was pretty slim pickings for the Whitecaps with Parker, Kekuta Manneh and Jake Nerwinski being the only notable selections. The nod goes to Parker, who was a two-and-a-half year starter at center back, helping them finish third in the Western Conference in 2017. He fetched Felipe and $500,000 in Targeted Allocation Money when traded prior to the 2018 season.