Expansion side FC Cincinnati selected UCLA midfielder Frankie Amaya No. 1 overall in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft on Friday.
Amaya, 18, is the youngest player in the draft, but his upside is such that he’s expected to adapt well to the professional game, even in a central playmaking role that is usually the domain of foreign players.
He spent just one season at UCLA, making 14 appearances, 10 of them starts, while scoring two goals and adding two assists.
However, it was with the U.S. Under-20 team that the playmaker has drawn the most attention, helping the U.S. qualify for the FIFA U20 World Cup late last year.
He missed the MLS draft combine this week due to commitments with the U20s and some hamstring tightness, but his absence did little to hurt his stock.
If Amaya makes the final U20 World Cup squad, he’ll miss a chunk of the MLS season as the tournament is set to start in late May. The experience, however, could not only aid his development but provide a platform for clubs around the world to scout him.
Amaya is also a dual citizen, which means he could be sold on for a hefty fee to a club in Mexico’s Liga MX if he performs well.
1. FC Cincinnati: Frankie Amaya, M (UCLA)
2. San Jose Earthquakes: Siad Haji, M (VCU)
3. Orlando City SC: Santiago Patino, F (FIU)
4. FC Dallas (from Colorado): Callum Montgomery, D (UNC Charlotte)
5. Colorado Rapids (*from Chicago Fire): Andre Shinyashiki, F (Denver)
6. Toronto FC: Griffin Dorsey, M (Indiana)