2015 MLS Superdraft - Is Romario Williams a Good Pick for the Impact?

  • Photo Hussein Abdallah

20 Major League Soccer teams made their way to Philadelphia this past week for the 2015 Superdraft. Many of the nation’s best from the collegiate system communed in the city of brotherly love.

The third pick belonged to Montreal, and having missed out on Cyle Larin and Khiry Shelton in the first two picks, Klopas made an offensive minded move. Commissioner Don Garber stepped up to the podium and called on stage University of Central Florida forward, Romario Williams.

The former Jamaican under-17 international recorded seven goals in his junior year—18 in his entire college career—and was on the Herman Trophy watch list for best collegiate player at the start of this past NCAA season. Williams is also not afraid to shoot the ball as he averaged a total of 4.33 shots on goal and, according to the university, was a vocal leader on and off the pitch.

“To the Montreal Impact fans, I’m here and I’m ready to work hard,” Williams said during his Superdraft speech. “Thanks to all the guys in the front office for believing in me. Bonjour Montréal.”

The upside to this player is the Generation Adidas contract he signed prior to the draft. MLS signs the best underclassmen with hopes of making them leave college early to play professional soccer. These few players (there were five in this edition of the draft) are signed to GA contracts, which means their salaries do not count toward the team’s cap.

So what’s the answer to the original question? It’s complicated. The Montreal Impact have a great academy system. In only three years of MLS soccer, the team has signed eight players from their academy and only one has ever been cut from the squad. Joey Saputo’s pride and joy means that the draft process takes a hit to the side.

If we look at their history of draft picks we can see that with their first overall pick in 2012, Jesse Marsch went for Andrew Wenger. He didn’t pan out and got traded to the Philadelphia Union for Jack McInerney two years later. In 2013, their first round pick was Blake Smith, a wide-playing midfielder who faded out and was loaned out to the North American Soccer League. He will return to a packed midfield next year. Finally, last year’s first round pick was wingback Eric Miller, who started nicely but got injured and eventually lost his regular spot.

Bottom line, except for second round pick Calum Mallace, who really stood out in the center of midfield, the draft picks the Impact have chosen were not really what you can call a “bang for your buck.” The worst aspect about this situation is some players who are classified as “projects,” leave university at 20, 21 or 22 years old. By the time those academy players get to 21 years old, they will have played much more “professionally oriented” soccer, and it will be greatly to their advantage.

Williams may be a great player at the university level but that doesn’t mean that he can bring his mojo to MLS. Unfortunately for him, a comparable forward in the club, like Anthony Jackson-Hamel,
had the opportunity to train with the club.

What will play in Williams’ favor is the fact that he might play a whole season with FC Montreal in USL-PRO. Not only will he play in a professional league, but he will do so in the front offices’ back yard. The three other first round pick did not have this luxury.

Romario Williams has a lot to offer and can be a good pickup at the third overall spot. The pacy former Jamaican U-17 international might be good player for the bleu-blanc-noir in two to three years time. For the moment, the ones who will see him develop will be the ones in the stands for the games FC Montreal will play, not the fans at Stade Saputo.

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