Sunday, January 17, 2010

MLS SuperDraft Brings More Attention to College Game

Attending the 2010 MLS SuperDraft in Philadelphia this past week, it was easy to see the influence that the college game has on Major League Soccer.

15 of the 16 players selected in the first round were college soccer products, including #1 pick Danny Mwanga of Oregon State, who was selected by the expansion Philadelphia Union.

Mwanga follows Steve Zakuani (Akron University and the Seattle Sounders) as the second straight year that a college sophomore of Congolese origin is taken with the top pick. Mwanga's father died in second Congolese war, and mother fled to the United States without his knowledge. Danny eventually was re-united with his mother and settled in Portland.

Mwanga was the 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year and becomes part of an Oregon State pipeline into the MLS that incudes former Beavers Ryan Findley, Alan Gordon and Ryan Johnson.

The Red Bulls had taken another West African with the second pick- Tony Tchani, of national champion Virginia. Tchani came to the United States three years ago from Cameroon and settled in the Tidewater area of Virginia.

I once had an MLS assistant tell me that his approach in the MLS SuperDraft was "if in doubt, draft Wake". That seemed to be the approach for several MLS clubs in this year's draft, as 4 Wake Forest Demon Deacons were selected in the first round - Ike Opara (#3 to San Jose), Zach Schilawski (#9 to New England), Corben Bone (#13 to Chicago) and Austin da Luz (#14 to New York). That makes 7 Wake Forest draftees in the 1st round over the past three seasons, and doesn't include Marcus Tracy - the 2008 Hermann Trophy winner who passed up on an MLS deal to head to Denmark.

Akron and UCLA seemed to have a Wake Forest-like feel as well- Kansas City grabbing 2009 Hermann Trophy winner Teal Bunbury with the 4th pick, and Zips teammate Blain Gavin went with the 10th pick to Chivas USA; UCLA freshman Amobi Okugo goes to Philadelphia, and Bruins teammate David Estrada went to the Seattle Sounders (coach Sigi Schmid's former school). UCLA finished with five draftees, the most any college.

You can see the entire MLS SuperDraft selections here at

Looking over the SuperDraft selection list, it is easy to see that college soccer continues to be the primary source of players for Major League Soccer.

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