Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all are able to coast into the weekend. We’re two-thirds of the way through January but it feels like its been 2021 for, oh, about a year now.
While I was unable to get my annual MLS Superdraft preview out the door, in reality, that wound up being OK because the draft was even more all over the place than usual.
The Caps’ two first-round picks were spent to fill one area of need and came with one surprise. David Egbo, a forward from the University of Akron, was the team’s ninth overall pick and Javain Brown out of the University of South Florida, was nabbed with the pick acquired from Sporting KC in the Erik Hurtado deal.
There also were the late-round selections, who likely won’t crack a final roster: UCLA midfielder Eric Iloski and a former Caps’ academy prospect, defender Joel Harrison, who played at the University of Michigan.
There is one obvious flaw with both of the Caps’ first two picks: they are international players. Egbo is from Nigeria and Brown is Jamaican, meaning the team effectively used up its last two remaining international slots (barring departures or further international spot purchases). The team acquired an international spot earlier in the day for a rough net $100,000 GAM loss (a swap of draft picks with Nashville SC was also involved). If both Egbo and Brown make the roster, that could be an expensive choice from the front office.
Beyond that, however, the two picks seem like strong ones. Egbo comes from the Akron powerhouse, which has produced no shortage of MLS starters (including one Darron Mattocks).
He bagged 21 goals and 13 assists in 56 appearances in Akron and seems to play as a real target man/poacher who is adept at simply knocking in goals. His underlying stats also seem quality:
I was given his stats by an analyst who rated Egbo as the second best player in the draft ... in 3313 career minutes at Akron, he had an xG of 20 and an xA of 3.2. He outperformed his expected numbers scoring 21G and 14A. Decent. #VWFC— (@GlassCityFC) January 21, 2021
Worth noting also that Top Drawer Soccer had Egbo ranked slightly higher on their big board — this was not a case of the Caps plucking some player out of nowhere.
Egbo’s presence makes things a bit complicated for Theo Bair, who seems to fill a very similar role. Depth is important but the Caps seem to be a bit crowded at striker at the moment and it will be interesting to see if Bair will get moved on, if only on loan.
Brown seems like a real steal. He is a low-risk chance to provide depth at a position of need for the Caps and he seems to provide much more pace than Jake Nerwinski, meaning hr can be a real change of pace at the position if need be.
What is encouraging is that Brown played professional soccer in Jamaica while in his youth, giving him more experience than your average Superdraft selection. He has an extensive record for the country’s youth sides and four senior caps. While Jamaica isn’t exactly Brazil in the competitiveness of its national team, it is a strong CONCACAF side and if Brown is getting looks already, it is a sign they see him as a real asset moving forward.
The Caps should feel similarly. It looks like he can provide some flexibility as a center back in a back-three as well, something Marc dos Santos might be interested in. He even bagged a couple of goals in his one season at USF and was named to the all-conference team to boot.
I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert on either of these guys but it seems like there are promising indications they will be useful, assuming the Caps can make the roster math work. You would think both these guys would be favorites to make the team and will be getting plenty of looks in the preseason, whenever that rolls around.
Shameless Self Promotion
Caleb Wilkins has better, more fleshed out takes on how the Caps did in the Superdraft, complete with data and all the highlights you could ever ask for.
Best of the Rest
The Province has a more in-depth look at both players, as well as the Caps’ scouting process
Some background on a guy I didn’t mention much, UCLA’s Eric Iloski
The Caps’ SuperDraft gets a healthy “B” from MLSsoccer.com’s writers, although grading the draft is the only thing that is more of a crapshoot than the selection process itself
A look at Lucas Cavallini’s role for the CanMNT in their January camp