IMAGE: SuperDraft 2018

Assistant coach Nolan Sheldon discusses United's SuperDraft strategy

This week, United’s coaching and technical staff descended on Orlando City Stadium to analyze the player pool at this year’s MLS Combine. Folllwing combine, the SuperDraft offers general managers the opportunity to reinforce their squads with highly-touted prospects for the 2018 season. Each MLS team has various priorities and positions they hope to fill through the draft system. We caught up with assistant coach Nolan Sheldon, who discussed the strategy and evaluation process for the Black-and-Red as they try to determine the best selection from the 2018 player pool. 


On if there are there any particular strategies the D.C. United coaching staff use to determine SuperDraft picks...

“There are a combination of factors that go into the club's decision, including positional needs, quality, depth of the draft, draft order, etc. Throughout the process, you work hard to identify a player that you believe can not only be successful in our league, but also will fit into the current group and system, in both position and style of play.”

On what player traits D.C. United look for from players at combine...
“Aside from identifying a player with the necessary talent and athleticism to be successful in our league, the player’s personality and character have to be of high standard. Recognizing we have limited opportunity to get to know the player, we take time to speak with the player’s college coach for a character assessment. We then spend time with the player himself in an interview to try to get to know them as best we can. We also place high value on the player’s ability to think and solve problems within a game. Does the player process the game at a high level? Does he have a good feel for the game? Does he use his qualities at an MLS level?”  

On the importance of performance testing...
“Yes, performance testing is important, but it's used more as confirmation or to support the case for one specific player over another. If you rate two players equally in other areas, the performance scores can provide a boost to one over the other.”

On what positions the team are looking to reinforce...
“The priority will be to add a player that will make our roster better and will push to contribute on the field throughout the year—someone that can add depth and versatility to the team.”  

On how players can improve their stock in the SuperDraft…
“Players need to play well and show how their qualities transfer to the next level. It is important for them to execute their positional tasks at a high level, so MLS teams can have confidence and a clear understanding on what qualities they will bring to their club.”  

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