BALTIMORE - At the age of 16 years and 60 days Nikolas Besagno became the second-youngest player ever drafted in the history of Major League Soccer as he was selected with the No. 1 pick by Real Salt Lake in Friday's MLS SuperDraft held at the Baltimore Convention Center. For the third consecutive year the 2005 MLS SuperDraft was held in conjunction with the 58th Annual National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention.
Besagno, a defensive midfielder for the U.S. Under-20 and Under-17 National Teams, became the second-youngest draftee in MLS SuperDraft history, following Freddy Adu who was selected No. 1 last year by D.C. United at the age of 14. Current Real Salt Lake Head Coach John Ellinger coached Besagno at the Under-17 level and invited him to Under-17 residency in April of 2004. In November 2004 Besagno was also invited to U.S. Under-20 National Team camp and made his debut for the team just six days after celebrating his 16th birthday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Official Statistician of Major League Soccer, Besagno became the eighth player in League history drafted at age 16 or younger.
The First Round of the SuperDraft was dominated by defenders with seven of 12 selections, including six in a row (No. 5 - No. 10). Generation adidas players were the most popular selections with seven of the first 12 and 11 of the top 18 picks being Generation adidas players. The winner of the 2004 Hermann Trophy winner as the college player of the year, Danny O'Rourke, was selected fourth overall by two-time MLS Cup champion San Jose Earthquakes and with Besagno was one of only two midfielders taken in the First Round.
The top three picks in the SuperDraft were all Generation adidas players with goalkeeper Brad Guzan (University of South Carolina) and forward Chad Barrett (UCLA) selected by Club Deportivo Chivas USA (No. 2) and the Chicago Fire (No. 3) respectively. Along with Barrett, the only other forward taken in the First Round was Trinidad and Tobago international Scott Sealy, tabbed by the Kansas City Wizards with the 11th overall selection.
There were six trades made on the day with the most high profile exchange involving San Jose midfielders Richard Mulrooney and Arturo Alvarez moving to FC Dallas along with the No. 6 and No. 29 overall picks in exchange for midfielder Brad Davis, an allocation and the 4th overall pick in the 2005 SuperDraft. Starters Sasha Victorine (Los Angeles Galaxy to Kansas City Wizards) and goalkeeper Henry Ring (Chicago Fire to FC Dallas) were also traded to new teams.
Participating in their first MLS SuperDraft were expansion teams Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake with each club coming away with four players each. In addition to Besagno, Real selected another former Ellinger player from the U.S. Under-17 team as Jamie Watson was taken with the No. 13 pick. The other Real Salt Lake additions were two-time NCAA Champion goalkeeper Jay Nolly of Indiana (No. 22) and the recipient of the Tom Fitzgerald Award for MVP of the adidas MLS Player Combine, Luke Kreamalmeyer (No. 37).
Following the selection of phenom goalkeeper Guzan, Chivas USA opted for three players of Mexican descent and all from the state of California: midfielder Christian Jimenez (No. 14 of San Dimas, CA), Aaron Lopez (No. 26 pick from Santa Barbara, CA) and Esteban Arias (No. 38 pick from Bakersfield, CA). Jimenez is a U.S. Under-17 National Team player and son of immigrants from Guadalajara, Mexico - home of Chivas Guadalajara. Arias' parents are also Mexican immigrants and long-time Chivas Guadalajara supporters. Lopez, a Mexican national and green card holder, once trained with Mexican club Necaxa.
Other international players selected in the 2005 SuperDraft were the Wizards' Sealy (No. 11 from Chaguanas, Trinidad), FC Dallas' Winston Marshall (No. 27 from Scarborough, Ontario, Canada), New England Revolution defender Tony Lochhead (No. 33 from Tauranga, New Zealand), San Jose's Antouman Jallow (No. 41 from Uppsala, Sweden), Colorado defender Guy Melamed (No. 43 from Nofit, Israel), Los Angeles Galaxy forward Mubarike Chisoni (No. 46 from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe) and Chicago's Gonzalo Segares (No. 35 from San Jose, Costa Rica), Boyzzz Khumalo (No. 36 from Soweto, South Africa) and Karim Dietz (No. 39 from Waldalgesheim, Germany). Chisoni will reunite with his friend from Zimbabwe and Coastal Carolina Joseph Ngwenya, who enjoyed a productive rookie season in Los Angeles. In all nine countries were represented in the SuperDraft.
After being selected by the San Jose Earthquakes with the No. 42 selection in the SuperDraft, defender James Twellman (Stanford) will be looking to join his brother Taylor Twellman, a star forward with the New England Revolution in the League. The Twellmans become the tenth set of brothers to play in the League following: Alexi and Greg Lalas, Jamar and DaMarcus Beasley, Seth and Sam George, Imad and Nidal Baba, Micah and Judah Cook, Chris and Sean Henderson, Daouda and Ibrahim Kante, Martin and Fausto Klinger and Antonio and David de la Torre.
Among the players to now be playing for their home MLS club are: Dallas, Texas native Drew Moor (FC Dallas - No. 6); Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution - No. 9) of Cranston, Rhode Island; resident of San Dimas, California Christian Jimenez (Chivas USA - No. 14); Michael Enfield (Los Angeles Galaxy - No. 15) of Ventura, CA; Aaron Lopez (Santa Barbara, CA) selected by Chivas USA at No. 26; forward Orlando Ramirez (No. 31 pick from Fresno, CA); Bakersfield, CA native Esteban Arias (No. 38) from Bakersfield, CA stays with Chivas USA
In total 33 colleges were represented in the SuperDraft with Wake Forest players proving most popular. The four selections from the school were: DF Michael Parkhurst (No. 9), FW Scott Sealy (No. 11), DF James Riley (No. 21) and MF Amir Lowery (No. 45). Four schools had three players picked in the 2005 SuperDraft: UCLA, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Indiana.
Of the MLS clubs, the Chicago Fire and San Jose Earthquakes had the most active SuperDraft with seven selections each. The selection breakdown of the other teams follows: the Los Angeles Galaxy had five picks; Chivas USA, FC Dallas, Kansas City Wizards and Real Salt Lake had four; the Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew and the New England Revolution had three; and D.C. United and the MetroStars made two selections.
For the second time in MLS' ten-year history, the League's annual SuperDraft was also telecast live by Fox Sports World and streamed live in its entirety on the League's official web site at www.MLSnet.com. The 2005 season kicks off on April 2, 2005 with a full slate of matches including the nationally televised game between reigning MLS Cup champions D.C. United and Chivas USA in the expansion club's inaugural game (ABC Sports 3:00 p.m. ET).