NEW YORK (Tuesday, January 11, 2022) – Expansion club Charlotte FC made the historic first MLS SuperDraft selection in the club’s history selecting Ben Bender with the No. 1 overall selection in MLS SuperDraft ‘22 presented by adidas.
Bender is the third player from the Univ. of Maryland selected No. 1 overall in the MLS draft, joining Maurice Edu, who was selected first in 2007 by Toronto FC, and Leo Cullen, in 1998 by the Miami Fusion. A member of Generation adidas, Bender’s selection marked the 20th consecutive year the first selection overall was part of Generation adidas or its predecessor. The announcement of Bender as the first overall selection was made by seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.
The first five selections in the draft were all members of the Generation adidas class. With the second selection overall, FC Cincinnati chose goalkeeper Roman Celentano of Indiana Univ. FC Dallas used the third selection overall – one of two picks they held in the first six overall – to select Isaiah Parker of Saint Louis Univ., who was one of four SLU products taken in the first round. Houston Dynamo FC then used the fourth selection to obtain Thorleifur Ulfarsson of Duke Univ., before Austin FC selected Kipp Keller of Saint Louis at No. 5 overall.
With the seventh selection overall, the New York Red Bulls made a pair of draft-day trades to move up and select Matt Nocita out of the U.S. Naval Academy. Nocita is just the second player in MLS SuperDraft to be selected in the first round out of one of U.S. service academies (along with Tucker Bone, 2019, U.S. Air Force Academy, No. 20 by FC Dallas), and the second player in Navy history to be chosen in the SuperDraft (Joseph Greenspan, 2015 by Colorado, No. 26 overall).
Saint Louis Univ. became just the third school to have four or more players selected in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft, along with the University of Akron, which had five selections among the first eight picks in 2011, and Wake Forest University, which had four first-round selections in 2010. The University of Notre Dame had three players taken in the first round this year, now marking the 13th time in SuperDraft history where three or more players from the same school have been selected in the first round. In all, six schools saw multiple players selected in the first round, including Duke Univ. St. John’s Univ., the Univ. of Washington, and Grand Canyon Univ. – a first for that school.
Players from 47 colleges and universities were represented in the 79 selections overall, led by Saint Louis Univ. and Clemson Univ. with six each, followed by Univ. of Washington with five. There were also players selected from 19 different countries: USA, Canada, Brazil, Burkina Faso, DR Congo, El Salvador, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Iceland, Morocco, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, and Zimbabwe.
Full results of MLS SuperDraft ‘22 are available BY CLICKING HERE.