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Does Soccer Have A Draft?

Does Soccer Have A Draft?

Basketball and American football are two of the most cherished sports in America, although soccer is gradually gaining followership. Therefore, it is not surprising that most Americans have good knowledge of American football and basketball but a faint understanding of soccer.

Being an American, you might probably be familiar with what drafting stands for in both NBA and NFL. Many NBA and NFL players, the likes of Tom Bradly, Russell Wilson, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant all made names for themselves after getting drafted.

Key Takeaways

  • Soccer draft happens in both the United States of America and Canada
  • The MLS Superdraft was created for teams to select and sign promising soccer players from colleges every year
  • The first Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft was held in the year 2000

When it comes to soccer, many forthcoming players usually have the intention of playing for professional soccer teams. Most of them would have found their quest easier if they fully understood how the concept of drafting works in soccer.

The United States of America is a country where lots of attention is given to sports. America has cut down youth restiveness and unemployment to a great level by investing heavily in both high school and college sports.

Most professional sports leagues in America often replenish their talent pool using vibrant high school and college sportsmen. This gives students who love playing sports an opportunity to shine forth and live their dreams.

Have you been wondering if soccer has a draft, how players are drafted if it has, and what players stand to gain when drafted? All your questions about soccer drafting will be answered shortly.

substitute soccer players are sitting on the bench

What is a draft in soccer?

A draft can simply be explained as a process usually used in sports to assign impressive players to quality teams. In most team sports, players often wish to be drafted into big clubs where they can grow and flourish.

In some countries, a transfer window is used instead of a draft. During the transfer window, which usually lasts for about a month or longer, teams are allowed to either buy or sell players. Soccer draft exists in both the United States of America and Canada.

The first Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft was held in the year 2000 while the first National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Draft occurred in 2013. The MLS SuperDraft was created from a combination of the MLS Supplemental Draft and the MLS College Draft.

MLS Superdraft is an official avenue created for teams to select and sign promising soccer players from colleges every year. Three rounds of selection exist in the SuperDraft—each team is only allowed to select one player per round.

The MLS SuperDraft might be similar but not the same as the NBA and NFL Draft. It was designed to improve the competitive nature of major league soccer; weaker clubs see it as an opportunity to boost their rosters.

Soccer player kicking the ball on the pitch

The MLS SuperDraft process

The MLS SuperDraft is usually conducted in such a way that no team or player feels cheated or left out at the end of the day. Below is a breakdown of the process in which the SuperDraft is conducted.

  • The first pick is usually offered to any expansion club present at the draft and in cases where there are two expansion clubs, the first pick for the SuperDraft will be selected from a coin toss
  • When teams don’t make the playoffs, they are called to pick using their regular-season record
  • Meanwhile, teams featured in the MLS Cup Playoffs are summoned using the point of the playoffs they were eliminated
  • The last selection usually goes to the champions of the MLS Cup while the second to last selection is given to the losers
  • Any other ties are evened using the number of goals scored, goal differential, number of conceded goals, and finally the coin flip

The only soccer players eligible for the draft in America are players under the American college sports system which includes the NJCAA, NAIA, and the NCAA. In the early 2010s, MLS teams started establishing youth soccer academies and also acquiring talented players from other leagues.

This action diminished the reliance of clubs on SuperDraft alone when securing new players. It also removed the constraints usually faced by soccer teams during the SuperDraft.

MLS Superdraft is usually scheduled every January. During this time, each league team can pick as many as three players from across colleges in the United States.

Players who weren’t selected during the Superdraft often end up being picked in subsequent drafts. When MLS teams sign players from their youth academies, such players are referred to as homegrown players.

Such players can only be eligible for signing if they have spent a minimum period of one year in a club’s academy. Some ex-college soccer players often join youth academies which offers them a better shot at playing soccer professionally.

Soccer player are shooting the ball

Does soccer have a draft?

Yes, soccer has a draft that is used only by Canada and America. Draft saves soccer clubs the stress of scouting for promising players or signing expensive contracts with other teams to acquire their players.

Soccer analysts think the draft system should be adopted by other big leagues in other countries such as the German Bundesliga. The draft system creates room for equality and fairness in soccer where rich clubs often claim dominance over smaller clubs because they can afford the best players.

It also allows players to improve themselves when they join clubs with very good players. Such players would have ended up playing for smaller teams if not for the intervention of the SuperDraft.

Most professional soccer players in America played college soccer. It has for a long time been one of the mandatory requirements for getting drafted into professional soccer teams in America.

Only a few soccer players in America get lucky enough to be scouted and signed by well-established soccer teams. College soccer players are often preferable because they are usually more coordinated and disciplined.

To play soccer professionally, you need to have skills, be athletic, intelligent, and have a proven track record. The MLS SuperDraft focuses mostly on college soccer players because they possess the characteristics of professional soccer players.

Although most drafted college soccer players usually fall under the age range of 20 to 22, there is no age limit to being drafted. Meanwhile, some strict colleges often regulate their soccer teams by stating age restrictions.

The MLS, aside from creating opportunities, is also a very lucrative league to play in. While trying to get into the MLS, you can also go to tryouts usually organized by MLS teams. These tryouts usually attract many agents scouting for talented young players.

Women soccer player are practicing with cones


Your journey into playing professional soccer just got started if you get lucky to be picked during a soccer draft. To earn a contract, drafted players are often mandated to appear for pre-season and fight for a spot in the squad.

Both MLS and NWSL players have to work hard for a place on the roster when drafted. This shouldn’t make your joy short-lived though, with passion, discipline, and dedication, you will surely get acknowledged.

Players who couldn’t secure a contract even after being picked at the MLS Superdraft often proceed into playing for the United Soccer League (USL) squad of that MLS team.

When it comes to the NWSL draft, players who weren’t picked during the draft are referred to as discovery players. This makes them open to being picked by teams in the league when their talent is needed.

The draft system has brought tremendous improvement to soccer in America, although the American soccer society might choose to adopt the transfer window system in the future.

If they do, it will not be a surprise considering that the transfer window has become the most popular system around the globe.