Now that the 2021 MLS offseason has kicked off in earnest following the 2020 MLS Cup, FC Cincinnati has another opportunity to add to the squad this week after selecting Ben Mines in the MLS Waiver Draft. FC Cincinnati holds the first pick in the MLS Re-Entry Draft and General Manager Gerard Nijkamp is expected to either use or trade the pick to help rebuild the squad.
You can find the list of eligible players here.
2020 MLS Re-Entry Draft –– 1 p.m. Thursday
Stage One of the 2020 MLS Re-Entry Draft will take place Thursday, December 17, with the second stage to follow on Tuesday, December 22. Eligible are option-declined players who are at least 22 years old with a minimum of one service year. Clubs must exercise the option for, or extend a Bona Fide Offer to, all players selected in the first stage and may not select their own draft-eligible players. That contract is typically what they would have earned if they would have stayed with their prior club for the upcoming season. Clubs have more flexibility for players selected in the second stage, but they must offer a genuine option to the player within seven days.
In 2019, FC Cincinnati traded away the first pick in stage one to Inter Miami, who selected Mikey Ambrose. The club received $50,000 in general allocation money, Miami’s 26th selection in stage one (passed), and its third-round 2020 SuperDraft pick. Nijkamp selected Saad Abdul-Salaam with the first pick in stage two.
Here are some players we could likely see taken this Thursday or next Tuesday.
Kelvin Leerdam – Right Back (Salary Estimate: $600,000)
Heading into this offseason, Nijkamp has several positions to fill in the starting XI, including both wing-back spots. He can cross one of those needs off his list by selecting a high-caliber MLS right back in Kelvin Leerdam. If you look at the fit, it is possibly a match made in heaven. Leerdam spent nine seasons in the Eredivisie before spending the last four seasons with the Seattle Sounders. He is very likely to be familiar with the attacking style of play Nijkamp and coach Jaap Stam envisioned when they got to the club. While his salary is on the upper echelon of his position in this league, not having to pay any acquisition costs likely makes this move a wash against adding someone from outside the league. Add the fact that he received his green card in 2019, so he won’t take up an international spot. Send the selection in now!
Rolf Feltscher – Right Back (Salary Estimate: $300,000)
While Leerdam might be my first choice pick in the Re-Entry draft, I could see FC Cincinnati opting for another attacking right back in Rolf Feltscher. After starting for most of the last three seasons with the LA Galaxy, the Venezuelan international could be looking for a new home with Julian Araujo taking over his spot for the foreseeable future. Rumor is both parties are still in discussions, but FC Cincinnati could take a flyer and pick him if they think they could get a deal done. Feltscher could be another strong fit in FC Cincinnati’s system with his willingness to get up the field and provide attacking support with his overlapping runs. Like Leerdam, he wouldn’t take up an international spot, having possession of a green card. While I may like Leerdam’s athletic skills more, Feltscher’s salary is much more appealing. No matter what you say, $600,000-plus is a lot of money for a right-back in MLS.
Jorge Luis Corrales – Left Back (Salary Estimate: $100,000)
Assuming FC Cincinnati can figure out a deal to retain Andrew Gutman, it still needs to add depth at left-back. They can grab a value selection with Jorge Corrales, who spent last season in Montreal. The former Cuban international has his green card and has been a spot starter over four seasons in MLS. He’s played wide in a back five — which Stam employed often last season — providing width for Montreal. Corrales could provide some flexibility to the club while not breaking the bank at the same time. Look for Corrales as an option in Stage Two.
Mohamed el-Munir – Left-Back (Salary Estimate: $200,000)
If FC Cincinnati feels it is unable to resign Gutman, you might see it opt to slot in el-Munir at left-back. While I like him better than Corrales, el-Munir does not have his green card, so he would take up an international spot. His ability to get up the field or trackback fits what Stam expects out of his wing-backs, but I’m of the belief that only core players should hold the international spots. El-Munir was unable to lock down a starting spot for Los Angeles FC, and though he might find his path less congested in Cincinnati, I don’t feel he’d be one of the “core” players. Again, he fits the profile of a player Stam and Nijkamp might want, but I feel there could be better international options out there in the market.