The Columbus Crew added some pieces to their system last Wednesday in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft. Columbus made their two picks that they came into the draft with, plus made a trade to pick up an additional late-first rounder.
With that being said, here are some grades for the Crew's moves on draft night.
Round 1: Pick 14=F Maximilian Arfsten (UC-Davis/San Jose Earthquakes II)
In one of the more unique picks of the draft, Columbus selected Arfsten out of MLS Next Pro's San Jose Earthquakes II. Arfsten had previously played for UC-Davis from 2019-2021 before leaving to sign with San Jose's II's. He then entered the draft this year, and gets picked in the middle of the first round (although the pick seemed to be off the board a little bit).
Arfsten had a strong Sophomore season in 2021 at UC-Davis where he scored eight goals and contributed seven assists, which propelled his move to make the jump to MLS Next Pro. This past season with SJII, Arfsten scored nine goals and added six assists across 24 matches (21 starts). He completed 72.1% of his passes this past year as well.
The loss of Derrick Etienne Jr., who signed with Atlanta United as a free agent, could open up an opportunity for Arfsten (and opened up a bit of a need at winger). Arfsten will battle for a role in the rotation at winger this season.
We know that Cucho is the man at the 9 and that Lucas Zelarayan is the man at the 10, but there are some questions at winger. Luis Diaz is still there as a returning starter, and the likes of Yaw Yeboah and Kevin Molino are in the system. Arfsten will be competing with those players for minutes at winger. It's possible that he spends some time in MLS Next Pro with Columbus Crew II this year, but with a season under his belt already in MLS Next Pro (with Earthquakes II), Columbus could elect to try and keep him with the first team.
It wouldn't surprise me if Columbus picked Arfsten with an eye towards him contributing this season with the first team this season in some shape or form. I don't mind the position of need, I just question whether Arfsten was the best winger still on the board. I also like the player (and his fit with Columbus), I'm just not sure if pick #14 was the best value.
- Pick Grade:C+