Now that the 2021 MLS offseason has kicked off in earnest following the 2020 MLS Cup, FC Cincinnati has a pair of opportunities to add to the squad this week with the MLS Waiver and Re-entry Drafts. FC Cincinnati has the first pick in both drafts, and general manager Gerard Nijkamp is expected to either use or trade the picks to help rebuild the squad.
You can find the list of eligible players for both drafts and free agency here.
2020 MLS Waiver Draft — 1 p.m. Wednesday
In 2019, Nijkamp picked up midfielder Haris Medunjanin in this draft, but due to changes in the collective bargaining agreement, the focus of this draft is young players out of contract, under 22, with less than a year of service under their belt. With those changes to rules, a smaller field is eligible with nine players up for selection. Here are some players we could likely see taken Wednesday
Carleton was on the lips of every United States national team supporter when he made his debut with the Atlanta United first team in 2017. This was following strong performances with the U.S. U15 & U17 teams. A mix of indiscretions and reports of immaturity led to just 11 appearances and two starts in three seasons with the club. Behind players such as Ezequiel Barco, Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez and Tito Villalba, minutes were hard to come by. In 2020, Carleton was sent on loan to Indy Eleven of the USL where reports showed an increase in maturity and amount of minutes. At just 20 years old, Carleton could be an attractive piece for teams looking to take a risk on a player. At FC Cincinnati, a player of his caliber could have easily found minutes off the bench. It could be attractive for both parties, as there wouldn’t be many players in ink ahead of him in Cincinnati, and it would give him the opportunity to fight and reclaim the promise that showed so bring four years ago.
A surprise cut this offseason, the former New England Revolution attacking midfielder spent the 2020 season with the New England Revolution II in USL League One. He started in 15 of his 16 appearances, tallying four goals and two assists. He was ninth in the league with 22 chances created and was up for the Young Player of the Year award. While he might not be expected to contribute much in 2021, selecting Firmino might be good for a club looking to add young pieces and increase squad depth. It could put him through the wringer this preseason and either add him to their MLS Next team if the club adds a squad for the 2021 season or send him on loan to another USL club to grow further. FC Cincinnati has several back-end spots available, and it might be better served to stash him on the reserve roster than pick up a late college pick without professional experience or success.
The former 2018 USL 20 Under 20 award right-winger was let go by the Red Bulls this fall after joining their academy in 2015. He made 51 career appearances in the USL Championship and six in MLS so far in his career. At just 20, Mines still has his career ahead of him, and like Carleton, his path was largely blocked by talented players ahead of him. The young winger was known for his pace and could be a potential fit in coach Jaap Stam’s 4-3-3. Like the others, you could stash him on the supplemental roster and keep him as an option off the bench.
Other Notable Options: Isaac Angking, Michee Ngalina