NEW YORK - Major League Soccer Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Todd Durbin today announced the signing of 17-year-old U.S. youth national team star Danny Szetela, the 2004 Parade Magazine High School Player of the Year. The Clifton, NJ resident, pursued by some of the top clubs in the world including English Premier League clubs Everton and Manchester City, has been a standout midfielder for both the U.S. Under-17 and Under-20 National Teams and joins teammates Freddy Adu (D.C. United), Eddie Gaven (MetroStars) and Guillermo Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy) as the latest American youth soccer star to join the League. Szetela will learn the name of his new team following a weighted lottery to be held on Thursday, July 22 at 3:00 p.m. ET at League headquarters in New York City.
"Becoming a professional soccer player is what I've dreamed about since I started playing the sport as a kid and I'd like to thank MLS for giving me the opportunity to stay in the U.S. to play," Szetela said. "I chose MLS because I think playing at home gives me the best chance to prove myself and I look forward to starting my career and making an immediate impact."
Szetela starred on the U.S. Under-17 National Team, anchoring the midfield during the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championships in Finland, where he started all five of the team's matches as the U.S. finished in fifth place. It was the best finish by a U.S. team since Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley led the Under-17s to fourth place in 1999. His performance at the 2003 World Championships in Finland, where he was the second-youngest player on the U.S. team behind Adu, drew the attention of several top clubs around the world.
"MLS is pleased to welcome one of the top young American players to the League," Durbin said. "Danny Szetela is another one of America's top prospects who chose MLS over other foreign clubs, which is further proof of the quality of MLS that it continues to be the first choice for the elite soccer talent in this country."
A member of the U.S. youth national teams since joining the Under-14 age group, Szetela's size, work rate, technique and bursts of speed have made him a force in central midfield on the international level. A two-way player with fine attacking skills, Szetela is also an aggressive ball-winner and does not shy away from tough tackles and strong challenges. Like Adu, Gaven and Gonzalez, he is a product of the U.S. Soccer Federation's Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida where earned his high school diploma at the Edison Learning Center.
Since the signing of Szetela comes after this year's SuperDraft, he will be made available to MLS teams via a weighted lottery to be held at League headquarters in New York City on Thursday, July 22 at 3:00 p.m. ET (see below for lottery rules). Szetela will be roster protected and occupy one of six developmental roster spots available to each MLS team but will not count against a club's salary budget or a team's senior roster.