2017 MLS SuperDraft: UCLA's Abu Danladi taken No. 1 overall to highlight Pac-12 selections
The Conference of Champions made its presence felt at the 2017 Major League Soccer SuperDraft on Friday in Los Angeles, as five players from the Pac-12 were selected among the first two rounds. Take a look at the top quintet of Pac-12 talent headed to the next level.
Abu Danladi, UCLA F
Minnesota FC, 1st round, 1st overall
The MLS added a couple of new franchises to the fold for 2017, including the expansion Minnesota United FC. In a historic moment for the organization, Minnesota drafted former UCLA star forward Abu Danladi to be a cornerstone of the future.
"Thank you to Minnesota. I know it was a really hard decision to make," Danladi said. "There's great players here and everybody did really well in the combine. It was a really hard decision and I'm blessed that you guys believe in me to help."
— UCLA Men's Soccer (@UCLAMSoccer) January 13, 2017
As he stepped to the podium on Friday wearing a bow tie, Danladi made sure to give a shout out to his former college program.
"Being at UCLA for three years," Danladi said, "they've been there every step of the way through thick and thin and they helped me a lot. I want to say big thanks to UCLA as a school and my coaches and my teammates."
Danladi battled injury issues throughout college but was one of the NCAA's most explosive scorers and playmakers whenever he was on the pitch. In his 42 career contests with the Bruins, Danladi totaled 18 goals and 18 assists.
Jackson Yueill, UCLA M
San Jose Earthquakes, 1st round, 6th overall
UCLA fans didn't have to wait long to see another Bruin taken off the board, as the San Jose Earthquakes picked midfielder Jackson Yueill with the No. 6 overall selection.
"First off, I want to say how much of an honor it is for me to be up here behind this podium in front of all of you," Yueill said. "It's been a dream of mine ever since I was a little kid. I'm truly thankful for all of the support that I've gotten. ... I'd also like to thank everybody at UCLA, my coach Jorge Salcedo who brought me into this family. I really had a lot of fun there."
Yueill only spent two seasons in Westwood, earning First Team Pac-12 selections in 2015 and 2016 while establishing himself as a lightning rod for the Bruins' potent attack. The 19-year-old amassed nine goals and 17 assists in 40 career games with UCLA.
Brian Nana-Sinkam, Stanford D
Seattle Sounders, 1st round, 22nd overall
To wrap up the first round of the SuperDraft, reigning MLS champ Seattle Sounders selected Brian Nana-Sinkam to help solidify the team's defense. One player who was happy to see Nana-Sinkam join Seattle? Former Stanford teammate Jordan Morris.
— Jordan Morris (@JmoSmooth13) January 13, 2017
Nana-Sinkam earned captain status by the end of his tenure with Stanford, along with First Team Pac-12 honors in 2016.
Michael Amick, UCLA D
Portland Timbers, 2nd round, 32nd overall
Michael Amick became the third Bruin drafted on Friday when the Portland Timbers took him with the 13th pick of the second round. Amick was named UCLA team captain for his final three seasons while anchoring the back end of the defense.
Justin Schmidt, Washington D
Real Salt Lake, 2nd round, 35th overall
Rounding out the Pac-12 talent picked on Friday was Washington soccer alum Justin Schmidt, who figures to give Real Salt Lake some depth in the middle of the defense.