A good expansion draft should integrate a couple of veteran starters, a promising young talent or two and the acquisition of other assets that can be flipped into better players in the future.
Austin FC followed that formula to perfection last week when it announced its highly anticipated selections from the list of unprotected players, which was made public just one day before the draft.
Expansion drafts rarely yield a host of instant starters for new clubs—after all, teams are picking from lists of largely unwanted players—but it’s important to add some pieces that will make some contribution to the good of the team, whether it be on the field or by being flipped into other assets.
Austin FC did well enough with the pool of players it had to choose from, while revealing a bit more about the organization’s strategy going forward.
Danny Hoesen, San Jose Earthquakes
Austin FC elected to go high-risk, high-reward with its first selection. Hoesen is two years removed from a 12-goal, four-assist campaign with the ‘quakes, but has struggled in Matías Almeyda’s system since the Argentine took over in 2019. Hoesen, who turns 30 in January, proved largely ineffective after sliding into the wing from the center-forward position, and after encountering a few injury issues, ultimately found himself on the sidelines for the majority of the last two seasons.
Hoesen is undoubtedly a talented player and if Austin FC coach Josh Wolff moves him back to his natural center-forward spot in what we anticipate will be a 4-3-3 formation, the Dutch national could rediscover his form.
Jared Stroud, New York Red Bulls
Stroud is surefire starter one day and it’s difficult to comprehend why the Red Bulls chose not to protect him. At just 24 years old, Stroud already has proved himself a competent player as a rookie last season and he hasn’t come close to reaching his full potential. USL standout (NYRB II) and all-time assists leader at Colgate, Stroud is a dynamic attacking winger who enjoys creating chances as much as he does taking them. Hopefully, he’ll be doing both in Austin for years to come.
Brady Scott, Nashville SC
Another young prospect at just 21 years of age, Scott has valuable experience both in Europe and with the U.S. Youth National Team. He was buried on the depth chart in Nashville and likely won’t see much playing time for Austin FC in the near future either as he continues to develop. The potential is there, and while his name may be unknown to fans, he has the size, athleticism and skill to one day earn the starting job between the pipes for Austin FC.
Joe Corona, LA Galaxy
One thing any new MLS franchise needs in its lineup from day one is an experienced midfielder, which Austin FC secured in Joe Corona from the LA Galaxy. The 30-year-old isn’t much of a scoring threat from central midfield, but he’s a versatile player with elite dribbling skill and a tenacity to win the ball on defense despite his small stature. If Austin FC is competitive in its inaugural season, Corona will be a significant reason why.
Kamal Miller, Orlando City (traded to Montreal Impact)
Austin FC immediately flipped its selection of Miller to Montreal Impact for $225,000 in general allocation money and the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft. That GAM was much-needed after spending more than $1 million to sign five players leading up to the draft and just days later committing to spend another $750,000 on the acquisition of former All-Star Alex Ring from New York City FC. A very solid haul for an Expansion Draft trade.
Austin FC didn’t need to record the greatest expansion draft of all time. It just needed to add depth and experience with a bit of promising young talent. Mission accomplished.
Overall Austin FC Expansion Draft Grade: B+