Inter Miami, Nashville SC make picks in MLS expansion draft
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The newest MLS teams -- Inter Miami and Nashville SC -- began building for the future Tuesday when each selected five players during the 2019 Major League Soccer Expansion Draft.
With the first overall pick from a pool of 222 unprotected MLS players, Inter Miami selected NYCFC defender Ben Sweat, a Florida native. The 28-year-old called up to USMNT in October was a first-rounder of the Columbus Crew in 2014 but has played three seasons with New York.
Nashville's first choice was Abu Danladi, a 24-year-old Minnesota United forward who was the No. 1 pick in the 2017 SuperDraft. He totaled 11 goals and six assists for the Loons in three injury-shortened seasons that included only 24 starts.
Tuesday's draft selections included four defenders, three midfielders, two forwards and one goalkeeper. There wasn't an MLS team that lost more than one player in the draft.
FC Dallas, D.C. United, Houston Dynamo, NY Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps FC were exempt after losing players in the 2018 Expansion Draft to FC Cincinnati.
Though he was Miami's third pick, LAFC midfielder Lee Nguyen might prove to be another significant pickup. Once considered an MVP candidate with the New England Revolution, the 33-year-old veteran was a solid contributor in a reserve role for LAFC, which won the Supporters' Shield in 2019.
Both new teams also made deals, including two by Nashville that affected drafted players. Portland Timbers defender Zarek Valentin, a second-round pick, was sent to the Houston Dynamo for goalkeeper Joe Willis. Atlanta United forward Brandon Vazquez, a fourth-rounder, went to FC Cincinnati for general allocation money and targeted allocation money.
Nashville also acquired Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas for allocation money and a roster spot on the 2020 International team.
Miami acquired Cincinnati's No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft for allocation money.
Miami will face the Los Angeles Galaxy in its first home match on March 14. Nashville's first official contest will be at home against Atlanta United on Feb. 29.