In 2015, Cyle Larin was the first overall selection in the MLS SuperDraft by Orlando City.
In 2014, Tesho Akindele was the 6th overall selection by FC Dallas.
In 2013, Kyle Bekker was the 3rd overall selection by Toronto FC.
In 2016, we could have another Canadian going in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft. The draft pool is not likely to be loaded with Canadian talent this year but there is the potential for a pair of Canadians to go in the first two rounds with one likely being a top 10 pick.
The big question mark regarding whether a Canadian will once again go in the top 10 will be just which names are included in the Generation adidas class when it is announced. If Richie Laryea does wind up signing on the dotted line of the offer that he has receiver from MLS and leaves Akron to enter the SuperDraft then it is all but a slam-dunk that he will be taken very early in this draft. In fact, if top prospects like Joshua Yaro and Abu Danladi both turn down offers and head to Europe there is a real chance that Laryea could be one of the first few names being called on draft day.
Laryea does have an offer from MLS in his hands but has yet to sign the deal as it is possible that he is considering other options including the potential to return to Akron for another year. He is in a similar position to that in which Larin found himself prior to the 2014 draft when he had an offer from MLS and some European interest but wound up electing to go back to UCONN for another year which lead to him getting a strong offer from MLS prior to the 2015 draft which we all know that he accepted. The return to college for a second season worked out well for Larin but his fellow Sigma Academy alum is going to have to choose his own path in the face of similar options.
The midfielder was a dominant force for Akron this past NCAA season as he found himself being moved in to more of an attacking role as a sophomore. He started 20 games as a freshman as more of a defensive midfielder and was solid but was not drawing all that much in terms of attention from MLS or other professional clubs. This past year he was shifted in to a more advanced role and really proved to be an impact player leading to all the interest he is now experiencing.
In 2015, Laryea scored 11 goals which lead the way for Akron while also adding 7 assists which was the second highest total on the team this past season. His performances helped the Zips reach the semi-finals of the NCAA tournament and saw him named a third team All-American to cap off a very impressive year.
If Laryea does sign a deal with MLS there are a number of clubs with early selections that would be interested in taking him. It would be very likely that he goes in the first five selections with a team like Real Salt Lake (picking 5th) seeming like a very good fit for him as they look to fill the void left by Luis Gil who left the club this offseason.
While Laryea is likely to headline the Canadians heading towards the draft he would not be the only name available on draft day as there are several Canadians that will be making their way to the MLS combine this month. The top Canadian senior that will be included in the combine is Callum Irving who just wrapped up a very strong career at the University of Kentucky.
Irving, a product of the Vancouver Whitecaps system, was one of the top goalkeepers in the NCAA this past season and will be available on draft day by virtue of the Caps passing on their homegrown claim on the player. In his senior year Irving gave up just 13 goals in 19 appearances, saving over 80% of the shots that he faced, and picking up 10 clean sheets. As a result he was named first team All-American for 2015 after being included in the third team after his junior year. Coming off a strong college career he is considered by many to be one of the best keepers in this draft class and could easily be taken in the opening two rounds of this draft.
Irving will be joined at the combine by Josh Heard a midfielder from the University of Washington and Ryan James a midfielder from Bowling Green. Both players will need a strong combine showing to improve their draft stocks but for now they seem most likely to be taken in the third or fourth rounds if they are selected at all.
On the whole it is shaping up to be another relatively quiet draft day for Canadians overall but we could once again see some Canadian content near the top of the draft board. We could also see another Canadian in the running for Rookie of the Year in 2016 if things go well.