FC Cincinnati made their first-ever MLS Re-Entry selection on Tuesday afternoon when the team drafted Saad Abdul-Salaam with the first pick of Stage 2.
The Orange and Blue now control the fullback’s MLS rights, but the player and club need to agree to a contract before Abdul-Salaam is rostered.
Assuming Abdul-Salaam signs, here’s why the pick makes sense:
- Abdul-Salaam was a solid role player for Seattle Sounders FC in their MLS Cup-winning season. While he can play fullback on either side, he was used primarily as a right back behind Kelvin Leerdam.
- Abdul-Salaam has 86 league appearances and 60 starts through five seasons. In 2019, he played in 18 matches, which was his most since 2016 with Sporting Kansas City.
- Drafting the 28-year-old provides depth at right back for Cincinnati, which was needed after Alvas Powell joined Inter Miami CF and Justin Hoyte’s option was not picked up. Now, Abdul-Salaam and Mathieu Deplagne will likely compete for MLS minutes. It’s worth noting Deplagne played more minutes than any other FCC player in 2019.
This move seems similar to the Andrew Gutman loan deal. GM Gerard Nijkamp said he wants players to fit a certain profile, and that’s the strategy the club took by acquiring Gutman to join Greg Garza at left back.
There’s now equal depth at right back, and both players in the position have MLS experience.
As for Abdul-Salaam, FC Cincinnati are his fourth club in as many seasons. Can he maintain his performance levels from 2019 in 2020, and in turn, make his stint in the Queen City a long-term stay?