Real Salt Lake’s 2017 MLS Draft saw the club pick two defenders and a goalkeeper before passing their remaining third and fourth round picks.
Why’d they pass? Well, it certainly would seem that clubs are starting to feel like third and fourth-round picks simply don’t pan out most of the time. By avoiding making those picks — they’d probably just go to Real Monarchs anyway — they’re giving themselves additional flexibility as they look toward developing their second team.
Of course, that’s all balanced by the fact RSL’s draft picks are likely to see significant minutes for Real Monarchs. So maybe there’s simply less room for these players at MLS-associated USL clubs — which might just call into question our entire college player development strategy.
How might RSL’s 2017 draft picks shape up? All three could see minutes for Real Monarchs, but will any of them end up with Real Salt Lake proper in their careers?
First round: Reagan Dunk
Prediction: Monarchs regular, RSL backup
With Real Salt Lake not renewing Boyd Okwuonu’s contract option, the club sits with only three — maybe four — full backs. A flexible backup who can play other positions could be helpful, and that’s about all we can expect from Dunk this year. Does he have more potential than that? Certainly. Will we get to see it? Well, if you watch Real Monarchs matches, almost certainly.
Expect Dunk to be a starting full back for Real Monarchs — we don’t yet have a full picture of his abilities, but we should get a better picture during RSL’s preseason.
Second round: Justin Schmidt
Prediction: Monarchs regular
Schmidt, a center back who RSL general manager Craig Waibel recruited while he was at University of Washington, has been described as strong and smart. Those are great qualities, but he’ll likely find himself pretty far back in the pecking order with the first team — and further back in the summer if RSL manages to land a center back playing in Turkey, as has been rumored.
Will Schmidt earn himself a first-team contract? That’s the part we don’t have any real sense of. We’ll see how this shakes out.
Third round: Andrew Putna
Prediction: Monarchs backup
There’s little question about this. Andrew Putna will almost certainly sit behind RSL goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez, given the Mexican-American will likely remain the starting goalkeeper Real Monarchs.
He won’t get an RSL contract this offseason, but look for him