Paul McDonough takes talent. Inter Miami’s Sporting Director has proven yet again that talent is most important when solidifying a roster. By taking Robbie Robinson first overall, McDonough made sure he got the top talent in the draft, and still walked out with a top defender in Dylan Nealis with the third overall pick.
Robbie Robinson is a 6’2 forward from Clemson University who dominated all year long. His 27 goal contributions (18 goals, 9 assists) in just 19 games led the country. Those numbers solidified Robinson as the top player in all of college soccer.
He was named the 2019 Hermann Trophy winner, the top prize in NCAA. Robinson led Clemson to an ACC Final appearance this year along with a Quarterfinal run in the NCAA Tournament. His quickness and will to get in behind defenders was a vital component to one of the best offenses in the country. But how will that style of play translate to MLS?
New head coach Diego Alonso is known for an attacking style of soccer. Alonso will likely use a 4-2-3-1 in which the front four are interchangable. Robinson at Clemson showed that he can be useful as a centre forward or on the wings. With Jerome Kiesewetter, Juan Agudelo, and Julian Carranza on the roster right now, it seems Carranza will carry the lone striker role. Both Agudelo and Kiesewetter have had roles in their past as wingers, but also as centre forwards, and Alonso could use this versatility in his tactics. With a versatile attacking mindset, Robbie Robinson will get his chance and Alonso’s style of play could suit him.
Nashville went on to take Jack Maher with the second pick and left Inter Miami with an easy decision. If it wasn’t going to be Maher, the next best defender in the draft was Dylan Nealis, a full back from Georgetown. Georgetown won the 2019 NCAA Championship under Nealis’ leadership and Nealis was named the top defensive player of the tournament. He had also won back to back Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards prior to being selected by Inter Miami. He will give the already signed right back, Alvas Powell, competition for starting minutes.
Inter Miami’s defensive names give the roster depth at the back line and this pick solidifies that. When an MLS defense runs thin due to injury or lack of talent, it is hard to compete in the league. With a lot of games to play this season, throughout the summer and US Open Cup matches, depth along the backline is important and McDonough turned that $150,000 in General Allocation Money into a great pick.
It is worth noting that both Nealis and Robinson are members of the 2020 Generational Adidas Class, and their salaries will not be put against the budget. This will help McDonough make a couple more non-Designated Player signings in order to use up the budget and add talent.
As the draft finished, McDonough was asked questions about the clubs last two DP slots. He was quoted saying, “The goal is to fill now… and be successful from Day 1. If you want to sign a DP in the summer, the impact he can have would be very minimal.”
“We’ve got an international winger that we’ve agreed, we’re doing personal terms with. We have a DP striker that we’ve agreed (a fee) with the club, trying to see if we can get personal terms done.”
That tells fans two things. David Silva in the summer is unlikely unless they miss on filling both DP slots, and that there’s more exciting news to come. Has this roster building process and the come up of the club felt a bit slow? Yes. Has it been underwhelming? Most certainly not.
The roster after the SuperDraft has been filled with more youth talent, and the amount of MLS veterans on the roster combined with the youth has great potential.
Inter Miami’s first ever game will be out in Los Angeles on March 1st against LAFC at the Banc of California Stadium. They will then head to D.C. before coming home for their first ever game against LA Galaxy on March 14th.