Being the No. 1 MLS SuperDraft selection comes with a burden of responsibility and expectations, particularly so when it's an expansion club making the top selection.
To the surprise of some, Austin FC took Virginia Tech midfielder Daniel Pereira, who will forever go down in MLS history as one of the No. 1s. He isn't worried.
"I'm just going to be me," Pereira told media on a virtual press conference. "I’m not anybody else, I’ll be myself."
Pereira, a tenacious box-to-box midfielder who plays a No. 8 role, impacts the game both in possession and in defense. In two seasons at Virginia Tech he had six goals and six assists in 26 matches.
“For the way we want to play, we felt he fit a lot of the needs we’ll expect in that part of the field," Austin head coach Josh Wolff said.
The move came as a big surprise. The expectation was for Syracuse midfielder Philip Mayaka to be the top pick, as the overwhelming majority of mock drafts pegged Mayaka for the top slot. He eventually went No. 3 to the Colorado Rapids.
MLSsoccer.com draft expert Travis Clark projected Pereira to end up in Austin in his mock draft... but with the 11th overall pick, not the top slot.
“I wasn't really expecting to be No. 1 because of all the mock drafts, it’s an honor," Pereira said. "I’m really happy. My family is crying, it’s a moment I’ll never forget.”
Pereira spent most of his childhood in his native Venezuela, before he and his family emigrated to the United States around when he started high school. He showed up for tryouts and didn't know the concept of JV and varsity, as he quickly adapted to a new culture.
“Danny is a very good player and has good potential," Wolff said. "He plays a number of positions in the midfield, he’s very comfortable between lines. We’ve picked up a player who is ready to come in and play in MLS but also has room to grow. He’s a hungry, humble player.”
“I’ve never been to Austin," Periera admitted. He and Wolff spoke about the culture in conversations for what to expect. "… It’s hot in Austin, just like home so I’m excited for that.”