NEW YORK – A College Cup hero and a wealth of international talent highlighted the names called in the MLS SuperDraft on Tuesday, each player trying to buck the odds and prove their new teams have found a diamond in the rough.
Evan James leads that pack after he was selected first overall in the draft by the expansion Montreal Impact. James, who was widely expected to be selected among the 38 picks in the MLS SuperDraft last Thursday after leading UNC Charlotte on a surprising run to a runner-up finish in the College Cup last year, was named to the All-Atlantic 10 Conference First Team as a senior.
The Vancouver Whitecaps followed with the first international pick of the draft, Mexican defender Gienir García (pictured above), who most recently played with Crul Azul Hidalgo in the Primera “B” (second level). García played for Cruz Azul during the group stage of the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League.
Bethel forward Dwayne Smith went third overall to the New England Revolution, followed by New Mexico defender Michael Green to Toronto FC at No. 4, and Monmoth defender R.J. Allen at No. 5 to Chivas USA.
No international players were taken during the SuperDraft last week, leaving teams to pick and choose which talent they could try and bring to MLS on Tuesday. The Whitecaps scooped up Garcia and Real Salt Lake opted for Argentinian import Emiliano Bonfigli with the 17th pick overall.
The Seattle Sounders used the 15th pick in the second round to scoop up Jason Banton, the English midfielder who last played with Leicester City after starting his career in the youth ranks with Arsenal. Banton, 19, was perhaps the most buzz-worthy player left out of the SuperDraft after he eventually joined Blackburn’s youth system while Manchester City were reportedly after his services.
The Chicago Fire scored the first goalkeeper of the draft with the No. 15 pick, snagging Karl Woszczynski out of Alabama-Birmingham. Chivas USA also went the goalkeeper route in the second round, snagging UCLA’s Bryan Rowe with the 24th pick overall.
The Seattle Sounders used the 14th pick in the second round to grab Tim Pontius, the UC Santa Barbara defender perhaps better known as the younger brother of D.C. United star Chris Pontius.
The LA Galaxy used the last of 76 picks on the day to select San Diego State's Justin Davies, the younger brother of US international and former D.C. United striker Charlie Davies.
Although players selected in the Supplemental Draft face somewhat long odds of making an impact in MLS, it’s certainly been done in the past. Colorado Rapids midfielder Jeff Larentowicz and San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski are probably the most accomplished players to come out of the draft, but others who have made the cut include San Jose Earthquakes defender Jason Hernandez, Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, Seattle Sounders forward Michael Fucito and Vancouver Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey.