Inter Miami CF announces MLS Expansion Draft picks at fan party

Supporters of Inter Miami CF celebrate and cheer after the team's participation in the MLS Expansion Draft on Nov. 19, 2019. Photo by Matthew Bunch.

Inter Miami CF made five picks in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft on Tuesday evening, completing another step along the journey to the team’s February 2020 debut. And fans were ready to party.

The plaza of Douglas Entrance, where Inter Miami CF headquarters are located, was festooned with club logos and rosanegra. Hundreds of fans packed the plaza before the 5:30 p.m. broadcast began.

After a bit of anticipation, Inter Miami sporting director announced the first pick of the MLS Expansion Draft: the appropriately named Ben Sweat of New York City FC. Sweat, a Palm Harbor, FL native and University of South Florida alumnus, will know a bit about playing in Miami’s climate.

Sweat has played in Miami before. As a member of Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2016, he played 90 minutes against The Miami FC in an NASL Spring season matchup. He earned a yellow card in the 20th minute of a 1-1 draw.

The first five

After Sweat, the remaining picks include:

  • Alvas Powell of FC Cincinnati. He has made 134 MLS appearances (121 for Portland Timbers, 13 for Cincinnati) and 46 appearances for the Jamaican national team.
  • Lee Nguyễn of Los Angeles FC. The next time he takes an MLS field will mark his 250th league appearance. The American and Vietnamese citizen featured briefly for PSV Eindhoven, then spent time in Denmark and Vietnam before returning to the United States. He has made 191 appearances for New England Revolution, 58 for LAFC and 11 for the U.S. Men’s National Team.
  • Luis Argudo of Columbus Crew. The youngest of the five selections, Argudo was a third-round pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. He made 39 appearances for the team.
  • Bryan Meredith of Seattle Sounders. Meredith has been a career backup, making only 13 MLS starts for Seattle Sounders across eight seasons.

“We’ve added five more players to our roster,” Inter Miami sporting directer Paul McDonough told the media after the draft.” Our plan right now is to keep all five players.”

In his last MLS Expansion Draft with Atlanta United in 2016, two of the five players selected were dealt before the end of the calendar year.

“It was important for us, when we were starting to build this, we signed a lot of young players.” McDonough said. “In the last few trades we made … we wanted to start to add some MLS experience. Today we were able to add — especially the first three guys — some real key MLS contributors.”

Conflict in contribution

There were two other significant pieces of news shared Tuesday night. First, Miami traded with Columbus Crew to acquire their 2020 First Round MLS SuperDraft pick (No. 3 overall) in exchange for $150,000 in General Allocation Money. The second was additional information on a possible coach.

McDonough and lead managing owner Jorge Mas confirmed that a selection had been made for first-team manager, and the club was in negotiations. However, Mas and McDonough had a different perspective on the involvement of the manager-to-be in the selections.

“We have a choice, we’ve chosen someone, we just haven’t announced it. And he had some input in what we’re doing today,” Mas told MLS’s Jillian Sakovits in the Inter Miami studio after the draft. “I think the announcement will be sooner rather than later, and it will be a great announcement for our league.”

At approximately the same time, during media availability, McDonough confirmed that the club was in negotiation with a candidate. After sharing this information, McDonough was asked by Magic City Soccer if the coach selection was involved in any decisions regarding players Tuesday night. His response was an unqualified “No.”

Party Time

Members of Inter Miami’s three recognized supporters groups (The Siege, Southern Legion, Vice City 1896) filled the plaza with flags, banners and smoke. Chants in support of the team and the city echoed off the buildings surrounding the party.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Signs and sounds of the @intermiamicf @mls Expansion Draft party. Featuring @southernlegionmia @siegemiami, @vicecity1896 and more. #Miami #305 #Soccer #InterMiami #MLS #futbol

A post shared by Magic City Soccer (@magiccitysoc) on

Current club signings Jay Chapman, Victor Ulloa, Jerome Kiesewetter and Miami-native George Acosta appeared with fans, taking pictures and signing autographs.

Inter Miami CF signings (from left) George Acosta, Jay Chapman, Jerome Kiesewetter and Victor Ulloa posed for pictures with fans following the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft. Photo by Matthew Bunch.
Inter Miami CF signings (from left) George Acosta, Jay Chapman, Jerome Kiesewetter and Victor Ulloa posed for pictures with fans following the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft. Photo by Matthew Bunch.

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