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A look at the most interesting players available in the MLS Waiver Draft

Photo by Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

Photo by Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

The MLS Waiver Draft tends to be fairly tame. Last season’s edition saw just one player picked, as a majority of teams usually opt to supplement their rosters through other mechanisms.

However, there are always diamonds in the rough for a team willing to take a chance. Last season, the Colorado Rapids added Michael Azira, adding a midfield option that proved vital to the team’s run to the playoffs. This year’s crop of eligible players certainly features some interesting names as well, ones that, like Azira, can impact a club both in the short and long term.

MLS released its list of eligible players on Wednesday, revealing 44 players that could move to new homes. The list consists of players that are out of contract but are not eligible for the upcoming Re-Entry Draft or Free Agency. It’s not the most lucrative list of game-changers, but there are several players that could certainly prove beneficial to a team if given a fresh start.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the more intriguing names available:

DARWIN JONES

The 24-year-old forward has yet to truly break out on the MLS level, but Jones remains an interesting forward prospect. After making nine appearances in 2016, Jones was limited to just two MLS matches in 2017, his sophomore campaign. The former University of Washington forward was highly regarded coming out of college and could prove to be a player that benefits greatly from moving out from under the shadow of a talented Sounders forward group.

BOYD OKWUONU

The former U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team defender was stuck behind Tony Beltran with RSL, limiting him to just five career MLS appearances. Still, with extensive youth national team experience, Okwuonu is an interesting prospect at fullback, a position of weakness for several MLS teams. Given his cap-friendly contract, Okwuono is a legitimate option for teams looking to mold a young, but talented, defender.

CONNOR HALLISEY

Despite being locked behind a number of talented options, Hallisey made semi-frequent appearances throughout his two-year stint with Sporting KC. The 23-year-old started 12 games and came off the bench in five more throughout 2016, proving himself as a valuable depth option for a playoff team. Hallisey isn’t the most physically-gifted, but he is a winger that is ready to grind and create for bigger stars.

LUCAS ONTIVERO

His status as a young Designated Player will scare a majority of teams off, but some may be enticed to take a look at the Argentinian midfielder. In 21 appearances in 2016, Ontivero never truly lit the world on fire, but he was solid enough for the Montreal Impact. His loan status makes things iffy, but some team may be interested in taking a flyer on what could be a solid addition to the midfield.

ALBERTO QUINTERO

Like Ontivero, Quintero’s loan status makes things interesting, but the Panamanian could prove a shrewd pickup if a team can keep him in the league. Quintero made 30 appearances for the Earthquakes this past season, proving to be a dangerous option from the right wing with three goals and four assists. At 28 years old, he’s in his prime, and could be a worthwhile addition if transfer details can be worked out.

NUNO COELHO

A longtime veteran of the Portuguese leagues, Coelho proved a valuable piece for Sporting KC in 2016. With 22 appearances and a goal to his name, the defender could certainly provide a steady, veteran presence to most MLS backlines. However, his salary of $275,000 is a bit scary, and teams could certainly find younger, cheaper options out there.

JULIO BAPTISTA

At just $90,000 a year, the Beast is certainly a solid super-sub at this point in his career. The former Real Madrid forward is certainly past his prime, but his time with Orlando City showed his strength and brute power could be a welcome wrinkle in MLS and CONCACAF play.

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