Santiago Patino - Don Garber - 2019 MLS draft
USA Today Sports Images

FIU forward Santiago Patino returns home to Orlando via SuperDraft

Regardless his path, Santiago Patino's selection third overall in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft by Orlando City lands him at the club where he always hoped he'd make his pro debut.

"It’s incredible," Patino said shortly after learning his fate on Friday. "They always have opened the doors for me. They always told me, 'you’re going to be a Homegrown,' and that’s what I wanted at first. Things didn’t work out, but I’m glad that happened now. ... I’m from from Orlando and I can’t wait to be there."

Patino played for Olrando's U-18 side during his senior year of high school before heading south to play collegiately at FIU in Miami. Because he spent less than a full year in the Lions' academy, their claim to Patino as a Homegrown Player was reportedly denied.

That left Patino available to any MLS club who decided to use a pick on the 21-year-old who scored 27 goals across his final two collegiate seasons. But Orlando liked what they had seen in their academy enough to select him third, 11 picks higher than senior writer Matt Doyle projected prior to the combine.

"I think I did a good job in the combine, and I think in my years at FIU I did a really good job," Patino said. "So every time I woke up in the morning, I was going to make sure I do my best, and leave everything to god’s hands. And I mean today, I had a feeling that I was going to go early, but not that early."

While some may consider Patino's selection a reach, he does come with a family pedigree.

His father Milton was a professional goalie for nearly a decade in the Colombian first and second divisions. His uncle Jairo had 35 caps in midfield for the Colombian national team, and was part of the 2003 Confederations Cup and 2005 Gold Cup.

"They help me learn from the game," Patino said of his father and uncle. "They always told me ‘there’s a process. Work hard, do things right, and you will get where you want to be."