It was a groundbreaking year in 2010, with The University of Akron men’s soccer team setting many records while capturing the school’s first ever National Championship. 2011 has kicked off in similar record-breaking fashion, with seven Zips drafted in this year’s Major League Soccer Super Draft.
“It was a groundbreaking year in 2010, with The University of Akron men’s soccer team setting many records while capturing the school’s first ever National Championship. 2011 has kicked off in similar record-breaking fashion, with seven Zips drafted in this year’s Major League Soccer Super Draft.
Five of the first eight players selected in the first round are from UA, breaking Wake Forest’s record of four in the 2010 MLS draft. Akron also set the record for most selections by a team in the draft, which was previously held by Wake Forest in 2009 when six players were drafted overall.
This is exciting, said Head Coach Caleb Porter. These are seven guys who have done a lot for our program and they have worked for this.
Darlington Nagbe, a Hermann Trophy winner and two time NSCAA All-American, was selected No. 2 overall by the expansion Portland Timbers. Nagbe finished the season with seven goals and 13 assists and was named the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year.
Going No. 3 to D.C. United was freshman midfielder Perry Kitchen, who started in all 25 contests for UA this year and recorded six goals. Sophomore defender Zarek Valentin went No.4 to Chivas USA, joining former Zips Blair Gavin and Ben Zemanski.
A few picks later, junior defender Kofi Sarkodie heard his name called as he was picked No. 7 overall by the Houston Dynamo. Sarkodie, who was named Soccer America Player of the Year, recorded a career-high eight goals this season while compiling six assists.
Vancouver, an expansion team for the 2011 MLS season, selected No. 8 after trading midfielder Nathan Sturgis for Toronto’s first round pick, choosing junior midfielder Michael Nanchoff. Nanchoff, who netted a career-high 10 goals this season and nine assists, was named All-Great Lakes Region.
Getting five guys drafted in the first eight picks justifies for these guys that it was the right time, said Porter. I know that they’re all going to do well, and I know that they have been prepared and I’m excited for them.
Akron’s influx of talent continued in round two when seniors Chris Korb and Anthony Ampaipitakwong were drafted.
Korb, a defender who was selected with the 31st overall pick by D.C. United, started every game for Akron after transferring from Xavier in 2007. The senior logged in a total of 2,208 minutes this season and was a key to Akron’s dominating defense not only in 2010, but also in 2009, when they had a recorded a record 19 shutouts.
Ampaipitakwong , the 2010 Lowe’s Senior CLASS award winner and UA’s all-time leader in games played with 93, was selected 33rd overall all by the San Jose Earthquakes. A four-time letter winner who recorded a total of 17 goals and 30 assists, Ampaipitakwong was one of the instrumental building blocks for Akron’s National Championship team.
The MLS Super Draft, held this year at the Baltimore Convention Center, is an annual event that allows MLS teams to select players who have graduated from college or have otherwise been signed by the league. For Akron, this marked the third straight year a player from UA was drafted in the first round.
In the 55-year history of The University of Akron’s soccer program, a total of six players have been selected to play in the MLS, truly showing the rarity of this year’s seven players being selected.
I’m honored to have worked with these guys and I know that we’re going to miss them and so are the fans, but now they can watch them at the next level, said Porter. It’s been rewarding, and that’s one of the reason why I’m at the level I am at. I get a real rush working with these types of kids, and I’m nothing but happy for them.