CHICAGO – Though he very nearly wound up making a SoCal homecoming, Frankie Amaya pronounced himself “blessed” and “grateful” to become FC Cincinnati’s first-ever pick as the No. 1 overall selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft on Friday.
“I thought I was the overall best player – not saying it in a cocky way, but a humble way,” the US Under-20 national team playmaker told reporters at McCormick Place. “I work so hard, I don’t think anybody worked harder than me, so I think I deserve No. 1.”
As MLSsoccer.com’s Sam Stejskal reported, LAFC made a late push to acquire the top pick and select the Santa Ana, California native, prompting Cincy to call a timeout as club president Jeff Berding spoke to LAFC GM and VP of soccer operations John Thorrington on the draft hall floor.
Though Amaya said he didn’t know much about that last-second wrinkle, the pause left him in a stressful sort of limbo.
“With that timeout, I wanted time to expire already – I wanted a name, whoever it was. Thankfully it was me,” he said. “It was amazing, actually. I’m so grateful for that.”
Amaya honed his craft at respected SoCal youth club Pateadores before catching wider attention with a standout freshman season at UCLA. The son of Mexican immigrants, he hails from a soccer-mad family who pledge allegiance to Liga MX giants Club America. His father played junior college ball at Santa Ana College and his 7-year-old brother – “if he’s watching this, hopefully he becomes me or even better,” said Frankie – is also a player.
Amaya made sure to pay tribute to those roots as a promising professional and international career unfolds before him.
“I don’t really think I sacrificed that much, I think my parents sacrificed more, coming from Mexico. It was a hard journey for them,” he said. “Thankfully I was born in the US and my life was a bit easier than theirs, so I’m thankful for them for getting me here and making my life so much easier.
"They sacrificed a lot for me and I couldn’t thank them enough. I never want to let them down, so I think I made a good step forward.”