TAMPA, Fla. – Led by former River City Rovers and IMG Bradenton Academics standout Andrew Farrell, who was taken with the No. 1 overall selection by the New England Revolution, former PDL standouts highlighted the 2013 MLS SuperDraft on Thursday afternoon. Held in conjunction with the NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis, the SuperDraft saw six former PDL players and one former Super-20 League standout selected in the Top 10, and 27 former PDL and Super-20 alumni selected overall.
The 2013 MLS SuperDraft continued the remarkable success of the PDL in helping the development of potential future professionals. In the past four seasons, 137 of the 194 players selected in the SuperDraft have played in the PDL, a remarkable 71 percent of selections. The past two MLS Rookie of the Year honorees have also been PDL alumni, with Reading United’s C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City) taking the honor in 2011, and the Chicago Fire PDL’s Austin Berry (Chicago Fire) winning the award in 2012.
Farrell opened the 2012 PDL season with the Academics before returning to Louisville, where he also starred for the University of Louisville this fall, to complete the season with River City, for whom he made five appearances as they finished third in the Great Lakes Division. He is the second consecutive former PDL player to be taken with the No. 1 overall selection of the SuperDraft, following former Reading United and Carolina Dynamo standout Andrew Wenger, who was selected by the Montreal Impact a year ago.
Both the Austin Aztex and Reading United had a pair of players selected in the SuperDraft’s Top 10, with the Vancouver Whitecaps trading up to selected Austin’s PDL All-Southern Conference Selection Kekuta Manneh with the No. 4 pick. Blake Smith was selected with the No. 8 pick by the Montreal Impact, while Dillon Powers was also selected in the first round, being taken by the Colorado Rapids with the No. 11 selection. The SuperDraft success capped a remarkable return for the Aztex, who reached the PDL Southern Conference Final in their return to action last season.
Reading’s 2012 All-League honoree Deshorn Brown, who also played for the Des Moines Menace in 2011, was taken with the No. 6 selection by the Colorado Rapids after leading the PDL with 13 goals in 13 games last summer. Brown was joined by fellow United standout Ryan Finley in the Top 10, taken by the Columbus Crew with the No. 9 selection after a standout fall at Notre Dame that saw him named a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy. Finley had previously played in the PDL for the Central Jersey Spartans and Ocean City Nor’easters, spending four seasons in the league as he continued his development.
Reading United led all PDL teams with five players selected in the SuperDraft, with Ian Christianson being taken by the New York Red Bulls with the No. 22 selection. A pair of 2012 All-Eastern Conference Team selections were also selected, with Stephen Okai taken with the No. 31 pick by the Philadelphia Union, Reading’s MLS affiliate, and Greg Cochrane being taken by the Los Angeles Galaxy with the No. 38 pick.
Another former PDL standout taken in the Top 10 was former Portland Timbers U-23s standout Erik Hurtado, who made the jump across the Cascadia rivalry when he was selected by the Vancouver Whitecaps with the No. 5 pick. Former Columbus Crew Juniors standout Eriq Zavaleta, who was named to the 2011 Super-20 League North American Finals All-Tournament Team, rounded out the Top 10 after being selected by the Seattle Sounders FC.
Other PDL standouts taken in the first round of the SuperDraft included former Orange County Blue Star midfielder Mikey Lopez, taken with the No. 14 pick by Sporting Kansas City. Former Portland Timbers U-23s standout Emery Welshman was taken with the No. 16 pick by Toronto FC, while former Real Colorado Foxes defender Taylor Kemp was taken with the No. 17 pick by D.C. United.
Rounding out the first round were former Sounders FC U23 standout Fernando Monge, taken with the No. 18 pick by the Montreal Impact, and former Worcester Hydra FC and GPS Portland Phoenix standout Charlie Rugg, taken with the No. 19 pick by the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The top developmental men’s league in North American, the PDL features 73 teams within four conferences across the United States and Canada. The PDL season consists of 16 regular season matches for each team, eight home and eight away, and provides elite collegiate players the opportunity to taste a higher level of competition while maintaining their eligibility. In addition to league play, PDL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various exhibitions. The PDL has proven to be an important stepping-stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world.