First-round pick Ryan Sailor aiming to "make a difference" right away for Inter Miami
The South Florida side took the 6-foot-4 centerback from Washington with the ninth overall selection in the 2022 MLS Draft
Ryan Sailor has never in his life been to Miami, but he already has somewhat of an idea as for what to expect during the next chapter of his life.
Inter Miami selected Sailor with its first-round pick in Tuesday’s 2022 MLS Draft, adding the imposing 6-foot-4 centerback from the University of Washington with the ninth overall selection. Sailor joins the South Florida side in the midst of its major offseason makeover, meaning there stands a decent chance for him to not only make the roster but to potentially earn MLS minutes right away as well.
“There is going to be some opportunity,” said Sailor via a videoconference on Tuesday afternoon. “I am just hoping to step in and make an impact. Obviously there are going to be a lot of new players on the team and I think that can be exciting because it is an opportunity for everyone to make their mark the most.
“I am excited for that opportunity.”
The 24-year-old Sailor will now aim to use all that he has learned during the past five years with the Huskies and apply it to the professional game with Inter Miami, whose centerback corps have been significantly depleted in recent days. The team just shipped out a pair of regular 2021 starters in Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Christian Makoun, and seasoned veteran Ryan Shawcross announced his retirement earlier on Tuesday.
Combine that with the reported looming exit of Nicolas Figal, and there is clearly a death of options for Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville to pick from. That may open the door for first-team playing time sooner than might have otherwise been the case for Sailor, who is confident he has what it takes to deliver right away.
“I think I am ready to come in and make a difference,” said Sailor. “Ultimately we are going to see all these things in training camp and whatever is going to be best for the team is best for the team.”
It is not uncommon in MLS for a defender to earn a healthy dose of minutes during his rookie year, and Sailor could be one of the next ones to do so. His current competition at Inter Miami includes recent arrival Jairo Quinteros and untested teenager Ian Fray, though 2021 draft pick Aime Mabika is expected to sign a first-team deal soon.
Number of available bodies aside, what also helps Sailor’s case is his impressive size. The Herons have struggled for much of the past two years with attacking set pieces, and he just might be able to provide a boost in that department for a glitzy franchise that he knows comes with its share of expectations despite he himself having never been to the South Florida metropolis.
“Inter Miami has got a big name to it and that is awesome,” said Sailor, who scored six goals for Washington in 2021 and 10 over the past two years. “I know Miami is a big soccer city, a big city in general, but there is a lot of buzz to it and that excites me.”
Sailor will enjoy the accomplishment of being drafted, but he knows the hard work begins soon. Especially if he is to get off to the start in the professional game that he believes he is capable of.
“It is an awesome experience,” said Sailor. “So many people have gotten me to this point. My family, my friends, my teammates, my coaches. To reach it, it feels good that I can do this for them. I am super excited to get down to Miami.”