LOS ANGELES (Via U.S. Soccer) — The 2017 MLS SuperDraft first round certainly fulfilled its promise to deliver fans with excitement, surprises and jockeying ahead of the 2017-2018 season ahead. The first big surprise came at pick number three, when NYCFC traded $250,000 in allocation money in exchange for the Chicago Fire’s third overall pick, selecting former Akron and current U-20 U.S. Men’s National Team forward Jonathan Lewis. As if that wasn’t enough to shake up the opening round’s high profile prospects, Portland was on the clock next after trading up six spots with the Houston Dynamo to land former Duke and current U-20 MNT forward Jeremy Ebobisse.
The one constant which was not a surprise, however, was the number of drafted players with U.S. Soccer Development Academy and Youth National Team ties. Out of the 22 picks in the first round, 14 are connected to the U.S. Soccer player development pathway.
Relive the first round of the 2017 MLS Superdraft through the eyes of U.S. Soccer:
Selected 2nd overall by Atlanta United FC
Player Development Pathway: Robinson was a member of the Development Academy’s FC Boston Bolts from 2011 to 2015, playing in the U-15/16 and 17/18 age divisions. From his Youth National Team player pool, Robinson spent time with the U-18 MNT in 2013 and has since been a frequent call up to the U-20 MNT.
Selected 3rd overall by New York City FC
Player Development Pathway: During the 2015-2016 Development Academy season, Lewis had a break out season for Kendall SC out of Miami Fla. Since then, Lewis has been a consistent call up for Tab Ramos’ U-20 MNT.
Selected 4th overall by Portland Timbers
Player Development Pathway: Since a U-14 Boys’ National Development Program ID Camp in 2010, Ebobisse’s name has continued to emerge atop the 1997 birth year player pool. After playing for the U-18 squad in 2013, Ebobisse has consistently seen his name on U-20 roster announcements. During the 2013-2014 Development Academy season, Ebobisse was a standout performer for Bethesda-Olney’s U-17/18 Academy Club. He was named East Conference Player of the Year in the Development Academy that season.
Selected 6th overall by San Jose Earthquakes
Player Development Pathway: Since playing for the Minnesota Thunder Academy for during the 2012-2013 season, contributing to both the U-15/16 and U-17/18 age groups, Yueill saw time with the Youth National Team’s U-18 group in 2015 and has since been a staple player for the U-20 MNT.
Selected 7th overall by Vancouver Whitecaps FC
College: Univ. of Connecticut
Player Development Pathway: Nerwinski played three seasons in the Development Academy from 2010-2013, all with the New Jersey Cedar Stars Academy.
Selected 11th overall by Chicago Fire
College: Univ. of Louisville
Player Development Pathway: Johnson played in the Development Academy for one season, in 2012-2013, for Georgia United’s U-17/18 Academy Club.
Selected 12th overall by D.C. United
Player Development Pathway: Odoi-Atsem spent significant minutes playing with U-20 MNT in 2014.
Selected 13th overall by Real Salt Lake
College: Univ. of Denver
Player Development Pathway: From 2009 to 2012, Dunk played in the Development Academy for Dallas, Texas powerhouse Solar Chelsea, including a call up to the U-17/18 Academy Club during the 2010-2011 season where he started the season playing in the U-15/16 age group.
Selected 14th overall by Sporting Kansas City
College: North Carolina
Player Development Pathway: Storm spent the fall of 2010 and spring of 2011 training at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. as a member of the U-17 U.S. Soccer Residency program.
Selected 15th overall by Colorado Rapids
College: Univ. of Denver
Player Development Pathway: In the Development Academy, Hamilton spent the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons with the Colorado Rush U-15/16 and U-17/18 Academy Clubs.
Selected 18th overall by FC Dallas
College: Wake Forest
Player Development Pathway: From 2011-2013, Hayes played for the Baltimore Bays Chelsea Development Academy Club. After getting attention for his play in the Development Academy, Hayes had multiple call ups with the U-18 and U-20 U.S. Men’s National Team in 2013 and 2014.
Selected 19th overall by Montreal Impact
College: UC Santa Barbara
Player Development Pathway: Before spending three seasons training at the Development Academy’s Real Colorado from 2010-2013, DePuy also played for the Irvine based Academy program, Strikers FC for the 2009-2010 season.
Selected 21st overall by Toronto FC
College: Notre Dame
Player Development Pathway: Aubrey developed for four seasons in the Development Academy, all with the Dallas Texans U-15/16 and U-17/18 teams.
Selected 22nd overall by Seattle Sounders FC
Player Development Pathway: Nana-Sinkam played two seasons for Development Academy program PA Classics from 2011-2013.