Charlotte FC took another significant step toward their MLS expansion launch on Tuesday, picking Maryland midfielder Ben Bender No. 1 overall in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas.
Bender, who spent two years at the University of Maryland, is part of this year’s eight-player Generation adidas class. While with the Terrapins in 2021, he was a First Team All-American and unanimous Big Ten Midfielder of the Year selection after scoring seven goals and notching five assists in 18 games.
Highlights | Charlotte FC No. 1 pick Ben Bender (Midfielder, Maryland)
Charlotte, led by head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez and sporting director Zoran Krneta, have gone international-heavy in assembling their inaugural roster. Now, Bender joins their domestic ranks as a Maryland native whose GA status won’t be charged against their annual salary budget, providing added incentive to develop the player.
Bender is the third Maryland product to be picked No. 1 in MLS draft history, joining Maurice Edu (2007, Toronto FC) and Leo Cullen (1998, Miami Fusion).
Top 5 picks
Aside from Bender, Generation adidas picks completed a clean sweep throughout the top five selections in Tuesday's SuperDraft.
Here are the other ones:
- No. 2 overall: FC Cincinnati select Indiana goalkeeper Roman Celentano
- No. 3 overall: FC Dallas select Saint Louis forward Isaiah Parker
- No. 4 overall: Houston Dynamo FC select Duke forward Thorleifur Ulfarsson
- No. 5 overall: Austin FC select Saint Louis defender Kipp Keller
Bouda stays local
Dubbed by some analysts as the SuperDraft's most talented player, Stanford forward Ousseni Bouda went to the San Jose Earthquakes at No. 8 overall.
SJ Quakes pick and Stanford standout Ousseni Bouda hopes to make it to the next level
Bouda, a GA signing and Right To Dream Academy product, will be heading right down the road for professional soccer. He's a Burkina Faso native who was named the 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
After missing the 2020-21 season due to injury, he returned to action as a junior, pacing Stanford in points (19), assists (nine) and tied for the lead in goals (five). His nine assists led the Pac-12, helping him earn first-team all-conference honors for the second time in his career.
In addition to Bouda, San Jose also picked Clemson defender Oskar Agren (No. 13 overall) in the first round after completing a trade with D.C. United. Agren is from Sweden and was a MAC Hermann Finalist in 2021, helping Clemson win the NCAA Division 1 national title.
Rounding out GA class
The final two Generation adidas players learned their MLS home later in the first round, with Saint Louis goalkeeper Patrick Schulte going to Columbus Crew at No. 12 overall and Pacific forward Erik Centeno going to Atlanta United at No. 19 overall.
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Schulte is a two-time Atlantic 10 first-team selection and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2021 A-10 Championship. He's also a US youth international.
In 2021, Centeno garnered first-team All-West Coast Conference and the conference’s Freshman of the Year honors after leading the team in points and tying for the team lead in goals.
For all the picks, check out MLSsoccer.com's Draft Tracker.