College Draftees Primed for MLS Impact

College Draftees Primed for MLS Impact
by Travis Clark
February 22, 2024

This week featured a breakdown of some of the top prospects to watch in the new MLS season.

However, there are a handful of players outside the parameters of the Top 50 list (older than U20) that should feature and make an impact this season. Players on the prospects list aren’t considered here, hence why the likes of Jacob Murrell and Kimani Stewart-Baynes are not included. Most of them sign one-year contracts with several options, so the need to impress is quick.

Get to know some of the players making the jump to the league from college that could feature in the new season.

Malachi Jones, New York City FC – The winger from Lipscomb impressed during his preseason and looks like he has the ability to impact games in the attacking third. He’s athletic, works hard and has enough of a technical quality to possess the ball. Showing consistency will dictate his playing time, though don’t be surprised if he grows into a regular substitute role as the season progresses.

Stephen Annor, Houston Dynamo – A depleted Dynamo frontline might have to turn to the Generation adidas signee earlier than perhaps thought; Sebas Ferreira came out injured in Tuesday night’s Concacaf Champions Cup match. If Annor can get up to speed with Dynamo 2, the late first round pick would reinforce his reputation as a steal in the draft.

Logan Farrington, FC Dallas – Before the club spent a record fee on Petar Musa, Farrington was in line to play a significant role in the upcoming season. He started the final preseason game, a 2-0 win against D.C. United. And while his chances of making a Duncan McGuire-like impact took a bit of a blow, if he can make the most of his opportunities from the bench, he could still reach 5-7 league goals on the season. The former Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Oregon State striker has scored at every level, this is the next level for him to climb.

Hosei Kijima, St. Louis City SC – Signed to a first team contract this week, Kijima should see regular run from the bench at the start of the season. His goal in Tuesday night’s games against the Dynamo is a big boost to that, and he should see at least 1,000 minutes.

Roald Mitchell, New York Red Bulls – Offering the flexibility of playing up front or on the winger, Mitchell’s a name to watch within the Red Bull organization. He started the final preseason match ahead of the new campaign, perhaps a sign that he’ll get the start after signing a Homegrown deal with the team from Wake Forest. At the very least, he’s third on the depth chart at striker, and his playing time will come down to formation and his effectiveness.

Hugo Bacharach, Minnesota United FC – Another player that gets a speculative mention here, Bacharach remains in the frame for a contract with Minnesota. Capable of playing in central defense or as a No. 6, there’s every reason to believe he should be in the mix for the Loons this season.

Tyrese Spicer, Toronto FC – Picked No. 1 overall from Lipscomb, Spicer has the physical profile to make an MLS impact immediately. Fitness was the concern, and he hasn’t played the duration of preseason due to that. Can he get on the field and add to Toronto’s attack? The opportunities could be there, certainly.

Grayson Doody, CF Montreal – The No. 10 pick in the draft remains in camp with CF Montreal. With Malik Henry back at Akron, Doody has a big chance to make the team after a great career at UCLA. While a contract is still up in the air, the hiring of Laurent Courtois and the reliance on wing backs in his theoretical system is the kind of tactical setup that could see a player like Doody thrive.

Kevin Bonilla, Real Salt Lake – A first round pick out of Portland, it was something of a surprise to see Bonilla not get picked up by FC Dallas, where he played in the academy. An undisclosed knee injury kept him out of Wednesday’s game, and if it’s not serious, he could make his way back into a role as left back depth.

Yannick Bright, Inter Miami CF – While yet to sign a first team contract, it’s safe to go out on a limb and say that Bright has a decent shot of playing on Miami’s star-studded roster. He’s perhaps the only out-and-out ball-winner on the team, and can go out there and do some of the dirty work, shuttling the ball to the big names. The New Hampshire star isn’t an international as well, boosting his chances of sticking.

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