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MLS SuperDraft 2019: What you need to know as FC Cincinnati prepares for inaugural season

Tim Howard explains how U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen can overcome the challenges posed by playing behind Ederson at Manchester City.

On Friday, college players from across the country will be hoping to receive the coveted call from one of Major League Soccer's 24 franchises during the four rounds of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft (Friday, 1 p.m. ET).

Here's what you need to know heading into the event:

Teams to watch

Fans of expansion franchise FC Cincinnati can expect their team to be very busy on Friday as it continues to try to stockpile talent for its first-ever season in MLS. This process will be helped in part by the purchase of all five of the Philadelphia Union's draft picks.

Another one to keep an eye on is Orlando City SC. With seven picks heading into the day, including a pair of second-rounders, Orlando is hoping to find good value from back to front. It'll need it, too: Orlando finished dead last in the Eastern Conference last season with 22 defeats in 34 games and a whopping 74 goals conceded.

A pair of first-round selections also should make the New England Revolution an intriguing follow on draft day, as coach Brad Friedel tries to add some punch in midfield and restore the Revs to the playoffs.

FC Cincinnati's fans will enjoy Friday's draft, which could see 10 new players signed to the expansion franchise.

The top prospects

The draft board is still fluid less than 24 hours before the draft, but this trio can expect to garner significant interest from those teams near the top of the first round.

Frankie Amaya, MF: The technically sound UCLA product is already battle-tested, having excelled in central midfield with the U.S. Under-20 team that took top honors at the 2018 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. Amaya improved with every outing at that tournament, and he was very good in the final against a Mexico team replete with budding Liga MX stars. Always seems to rise up in big moments.

Logan Gdula, DF: There's a plethora of full-backs in this draft and Wake Forest's Gdula has a strong argument for being at the top of the right-back list. Defensively, he's very good and it doesn't hurt that he can bang one in from outside the area, either. Positionally, it's a big need for many teams heading into the 2019 season, which means Gdula certainly will be getting plenty of looks.

Callum Montgomery, CB: There are other players out there who might be more alluring than Montgomery -- speedy winger DeJuan Jones comes to mind -- but as a left-footed center-back, Montgomery fits the needs of many teams in the league. The Charlotte defender is very good in the air, assured in his clearances and can score.

What does every team need most?

Some teams (Philadelphia) aren't bothered about the draft, but everyone else could use some specific help.

Atlanta United: Any defenders
Atlanta has an embarrassment of riches in attack and midfield. Adding youth to an aging back line helmed by MLS veteran Michael Parkhurst would be wise. The signing of Brek Shea might add something, but it can still improve ahead of defending its title.

Chicago Fire: Full-backs There is a void at full-back following Brandon Vincent's unexpected retirement.

Colorado Rapids: Goals, goals, goals
A league-low 36 goals in 2018 makes this an easy call. The Rapids need someone, anyone, who can find the back of the net.

Columbus Crew: Help at full-back
Harrison Afful is starting to get up in years (32), so some fresh blood would be a good thing.

DC United: Full-backs
Nick DeLeon's departure for Toronto FC means that Ben Olsen needs some help at right-back.

FC Cincinnati: Creativity in the middle
The expansion side seems pretty happy with its defense, so some attack-minded midfielders is the way to go.

FC Dallas: Depth at the back
The Texans improved their defense in 2018 but could still use some depth at the position.

Houston Dynamo: Energy in midfield
The Dynamo will be competing on three fronts in 2019, so more depth in the middle of the park would suit Wilmer Cabrera's side.

Los Angeles FC: Protecting the net
With a glut of attackers and a solid midfield, center-back is the area that needs to be addressed.

Joao Moutinho, left, was the first overall pick of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft and Blackmon, right, was No. 3. Who will be first this time around?
Joao Moutinho, left, was the first overall pick of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, and Blackmon, right, was No. 3. Who will be first this time around?

Los Angeles Galaxy: Depth and starters in defense
New coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto doesn't have a true left-back on the squad.

Minnesota United: Playmakers in midfield
The more players Minnesota United can get to provide service for star forward Darwin Quintero, the better.

Montreal Impact: Help up front
With just three listed forwards on the squad, another goal-scoring body to back up Maximiliano Urruti would be wise.

New England Revolution: Power in the engine room
Kelyn Rowe is now in Kansas City, so the Revs' midfield could use an injection of playmaking.

New York City FC: Goals!
With David Villa gone and Jo-Inge Berget also on the way out, Dome Torrent's side needs another striker.

New York Red Bulls: Heart of defense
The Red Bulls could use some depth at the center-back position, especially when Aaron Long is away on U.S. duty, as will be expected during the 2019 Gold Cup.

Orlando City SC: Everywhere and everything
Orlando has needs both up top at forward and in the back, but adding a piece in defense first might be the smartest move.

Philadelphia Union: Forwards via draft-day moves
Philly traded away all their picks for extra allocation money, which logic states will be used on the attack.

Portland Timbers: Fight and grit in the middle
Giovanni Savarese could use another body to back up David Guzman and Diego Chara in the defensive midfield.

Real Salt Lake: Forward
RSL hit a home run last year with homegrown product Corey Baird, and another young attacking player would help coach Mike Petke immensely to ensure a deeper playoff run in 2019.

San Jose Earthquakes: Creativity and style
New coach Matias Almeyda has a big rebuilding effort ahead of him. A playmaker in the middle of the field would be a step forward.

Seattle Sounders: Midfield
Depth at defensive midfield was necessary even before news surfaced of Osvaldo Alonso's departure for Minnesota.

Sporting Kansas City: Protection for the defense
With SKC in three competitions, a versatile midfielder capable of helping in defense would be a good addition.

Toronto FC: Bolstering at the back
Injuries to Drew Moor and Chris Mavinga in 2018 proved that the 2017 champs need some ready defensive bodies in 2019.

Vancouver Whitecaps: Heart of defense
Frankly, they need depth everywhere in the wake of their winter dismantling. The smart move would be starting with a center-back.


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