Cup winners built through college draft
The Colorado Rapids have two picks in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, which takes place on Thursday, January 13 at the Baltimore Convention Center. The first round of the draft will be broadcast live on ESPN2 beginning at 10 am MT, and the final two rounds will be streamed live on MLSsoccer.com.
With the attention international players often get when they sign with an MLS club, it may come as a surprise to some to realize that the roster of the most recent MLS Cup champion consisted almost entirely of players that came from the U.S. college soccer system.
In all, 20 of the 25 players on the Colorado Rapids 2010 MLS Cup winning roster played collegiate soccer.
Of the 12 different Rapids players that started the four playoff games, 10 entered MLS via the annual college draft: Matt Pickens (Missouri State; drafted in 2004), Anthony Wallace (South Florida; ’07), Marvell Wynne (UCLA; ’06), Drew Moor (Indiana; ’05), Kosuke Kimura (Western Illinois; ’07), Brian Mullan (Creighton; ’01), Pablo Mastroeni (North Carolina State; ’98), Jeff Larentowicz (Brown;’05), Wells Thompson (Wake Forest; ’07), and Omar Cummings (Cincinnati; ’07).
The other two – Conor Casey and Jamie Smith – joined MLS after beginning their professional careers in Europe, although Casey did play at the University of Portland (1999-2000) before signing with German-club Hannover 96 in 2001.
The other players on the final 2010 Rapids team that played college soccer were: Ciaran O’Brien (San Diego; ’08), Ross Schunk (Redlands; ’09), Steward Ceus (Albany; ’09), Quincy Amarikwa (UC-Davis; ’09), Andre Akpan (Harvard; ’10), Ross LaBauex (Virginia; ’10), and undrafted players Macoumba Kandji (Georgia Military College), Ian Joyce (Seton Hall), and Scott Palguta (Cornell).
In addition to Smith, the other four players without college experience were Claudio Lopez, Julien Baudet, Danny Earls, and homegrown midfielder Davy Armstrong, who progressed to the pro club from the Rapids Academy and Rangeview High School.
As MLS Cup Champions, the Colorado Rapids hold the last pick in each of the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft (18th and 36th overall). The club traded their original 3rd round pick (54th overall) to New England in January 2010 along with goalkeeper Preston Burpo and defender Cory Gibbs in exchange for midfielders Jeff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson.