RENO, Nev. -- The 2019 MLS SuperDraft is set to take place Friday in Chicago and while the draft takes place in a different league, Reno 1868 FC is sure to see an impact.
Here are five ways Reno is connected to Friday's draft:
First and foremost, Reno's MLS affiliate the San Jose Earthquakes have several picks in Friday's draft. San Jose will be on the clock early with the No. 2 overall pick. The Quakes will also pick at No. 26, 46, 50 and 74. Whoever is picked, there is always the possibility that player will see time in a Reno 1868 FC kit in 2019. Which brings me to my next point.
Several past players who've been picked in the SuperDraft have made quite the impact for Reno 1868 FC. Recent signings Seth Casiple and Will Seymore were a part of the 2015 draft class. Nearly a quarter of Reno's goals last year were scored by SuperDraft draftees and almost 10,000 minutes played between them.
Every draft brings a crop of talent strong at a particular position. This year's class is particularly strong at outside back, according to Reno head coach Ian Russell, who spent the past week at the Scouting Combine. Russell said the position, which is vital to any defensive line, looked strong among others and that you could see the outside backs playing in the USL Championship next season.
Not all hopefuls will hear their name called Friday and some of those picked won't immediately start for an MLS team. But that doesn't mean their dreams are diminished. The USL Championship has offered a pathway back to the MLS and beyond. In fact, Reno has seen a few of those cases. Former club Defensive Player of the Year Jimmy Ockford was selected in the 2014 SuperDraft by the Seattle Sounders. Ockford found his way to Reno and earned a spot back in the MLS with the San Jose Earthquakes. Sparks native Kevin Partida was signed by Reno after being taken in the draft. After being developed by Ian Russell, who spotted the young talent, Partida earned a spot with the Earthquakes for the rest of the season.
Reno's coaching staff will keep an eye on the draft Friday to see both who was picked, but also who is still looking for their big break. In many cases, Ian Russell has identified talent prior to the draft. For instance, he spotted 2017 USL Rookie of the Year and former Reno standout Chris Wehan prior to the SuperDraft that year. After the combine, Wehan joined Reno's squad and the rest was history. So while it's important to look at the names picked, be on the lookout for the next generation of talent to hit the U.S. Soccer world.