The MLS Draft is at best a mixed bag, with MLS-ready players in increasingly short supply. And while that’s a good thing for the league, it has created a very strange situation for MLS teams. The draft is an opportunity to bring in young players, and within said draft, there is a further class: Generation Adidas.
There’s a lot of appeal to bringing in a Generation Adidas player. They’re supposed to be among the best and brightest of the entrants into the draft, and to support that, the league offers some financial benefits to selecting a GA player, primarily in that the players’ salary doesn’t impact the salary budget.
And so it is that we come to the subject of today’s player profile: Bret Halsey. He was signed in 2021 from the draft with said Generation Adidas tag. After Real Salt Lake’s dismal 2020 season, Halsey was picked 7th overall, and he played a position of at least a little need: right back.
2021 largely went according to plan, with Halsey playing with Real Monarchs for an extended period after recovering from an early season injury. From July 10 forward, he missed just one game for the Monarchs.
2022, less so. Injuries kept Halsey out of contention for Monarchs, now playing in MLS Next Pro. His time of returning to the squad was similar — July 11, playing three straight games — but he was swiftly loaned to Colorado Springs Switchbacks in August. He played just four games, appearing in three different positions (right back, right midfield and center back) and again succumbing to injury.
What’s next for Bret Halsey?
For any player entering into MLS from the collegiate system, injuries often become a differentiating factor. Players are going from an entirely different system, and it’s one in which the amount of training they can do is limited, the scope of the season is limited, and the quality of players is overall lower. By engaging in less time in soccer, certain injury problems might not be shown as readily. The professional system, however, is more apt to expose those.
Bret Halsey has been released from Real Salt Lake, his contract not extended. It’s hard to see how he could make an impact on this team and this roster. There’s clearly something about him that appeals to teams, as evidenced by his Switchbacks loan, but his injury tendencies add a true difficulty to an opportunity to continue. In the few bits and pieces of Halsey’s minutes I watched for Real Monarchs, I didn’t see anything that made me think he had no chance — but he was playing for a poor Monarchs team, and that tends to mask any insight.
In a way, I feel like I’ve seen this story before. We’ve seen Real Salt Lake draft players that are no longer in the game five years into their career. It’s just one of the things about American soccer: It’s a real risk for a young player. There’s no career certainty. Injuries can spell the end of once-promising opportunities.
If I’m being optimistic, Halsey could have a chance to make it in the U.S. — even if it’s in the lower leagues. If he’s able to stay injury-free, he could well be a good depth pick-up for an MLS team. But unfortunately, it’s a big if.
Update: Bret Halsey signed with FC Cincinnati 2, an MLS Next Pro team, yesterday. I missed that, but I shouldn’t have.
- MLS Next Pro matches: 2 starts, 1 substitution
- USL Championship matches: 3 starts, 1 substitution
- Yellow cards: 2