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MLS SuperDraft: Zavaleta, Schmid share family connection

INDIANAPOLIS – Brand new generation, same old story in the Zavalata household.

When the Seattle Sounders made a deal with Toronto FC to land the 10th overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft on Thursday, they didn’t hesitate to scoop up one of the best talents around in Indiana’s Eriq Zavaleta.

Part of the reason is certainly his potential – he’s either a MLS-ready forward or a center back, depending on which scout you ask – but this could be just as much about his pedigree. Zavaleta’s father Carlos played for Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid during his nearly 20-year stint as the head coach at UCLA, and so did Zavaleta’s uncle, longtime MLSer Greg Vanney.

“There’s some history there, and I know how great of a coach he is and how great of a person he is,” Zavaleta said. “So for him to be able to pick me and now for him to coach me, I’m so humbled and honored to be able to do that.

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“When that pick came, [my father and uncle] were the happiest people alive, because if they could pick one place for me, this would be it. And just like me, I’m so happy to be here.”

The 20-year-old Zavaleta finished tied for third in the nation in scoring with 18 goals in the 24 games for the national champion Hoosiers. He was the unanimous Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and also a College Soccer News first-team All-American.

Despite that offensive prowess, however, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Zavaleta told Schmid that he might actually prefer a switch to center back in MLS.

"He's played the last two years at forward and we're going to look at that at a little bit, but we talked to him and did an interview with him and he's not adverse to playing defense,” Schmid said. “And in fact he feels that that's probably where his future is. But we'll sit down again, we'll talk about it and we'll go through some training days and then figure it out."