Whitecaps go international with Nigerian forward, Jamaican defender in MLS SuperDraft

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The Vancouver Whitecaps went international in the first round of Thursday's MLS SuperDraft, taking a Nigerian forward and Jamaican defender.

The Whitecaps selected Akron forward David Egbo ninth overall before taking Jamaica's Javain Brown from South Florida with the 23rd pick, obtained in the December 2018 trade that sent Erik Hurtado to Sporting Kansas City.

Egbo, a 22-year-old senior from Enugu, Nigeria, scored 21 goals and added 13 assists in three seasons with the Zips.

Egbo, who says he can play a variety of attacking positions, is not short on confidence

"Personally I think I'm good at everything," said Egbo, who came to the U.S. in 2014 on an academic scholarship to Pennsylvania's Kiski School. "That's not to sound cocky … I wouldn't say I'm the perfect striker but I think I have a little bit of everything and that's what makes me different from the rest of the strikers."

The 24-year-old Brown, who has won four caps for Jamaica, scored three goals in 15 games with South Florida in 2019.

Expansion Austin FC took Virginia Tech midfielder Daniel Pereira first overall.

The 20-year-old sophomore started all 26 games he played in for the Hokies with six goals and six assists. A native of Venezuela, Pereira was a teenager when his family came to the U.S. seeking asylum.

Pereira was one of five players signed to Generation Adidas contracts, which don't count against the league's salary cap. All five went in the top seven of the draft.

Toronto traded its 18th overall pick to Minnesota United, acquiring the 25th pick and US$50,000 in general allocation money in exchange. TFC used the pick to fill a need at fullback with Maryland's Matt Di Rosa.

Toronto has incumbents Richie Laryea and Brazil's Auro at fullback. Veteran Justin Morrow's contract has expired and Tony Gallacher's loan from Liverpool is over.

Di Rosa won the 21018 NCAA title with the Terrapins, scoring the winning goal in the semifinal against Indiana. CF Montreal's Amar Sejdic scored the lone goal in Maryland's 1-0 win over Akron in the championship game with Canadian Dayne St. Clair, now with Minnesota United, getting the shutout.

Di Rosa's twin brother Ben, a defender from Maryland, went in the second round (44th overall) to New York City FC.

Toronto chose Virginia forward Nathaniel Crofts in the second round (45th overall). The native of Sheffield, England, had 11 goals and 11 assists in 64 games (63 starts) with the Cavaliers.

Vancouver picked UCLA midfielder Eric Iloski and Michigan defender Joel Harrison, a native of Langley, B.C., in the second round (46th and 53rd overall, respectively).

CF Montreal, formerly known as the Montreal Impact, previously traded its first-round pick to Austin for Canadian defender Kamal Miller and its second-round selection to Minnesota in the Mason Toye deal.

In 2019. the six-foot-one 185-pound Egbo led Akron in goals (7), assists (4), points (18), shots (49), while ranking second in shots on goal (19) en route to earning first-team all-Mid-American Conference honours.

The 5-11 160-pound Brown played for HarbourView FC in Jamaica.

Both players will require an international spot if signed to an MLS contract.

There were 12 Canadians among the 170-plus players available in the draft, which was reduced to three rounds from four this year.

Wake Forest and Clemson dominated picks No. 2 through 4.

FC Cincinnati used the second overall pick on Wake Forest forward Calvin Harris, another Generation Adidas player and the son of former Sheffield United player Terry Harris. The 20-year-old from England, who grew up in Hong Kong and New Zealand, had 16 goals and six assists as a sophomore in 2019, his last season.

Colorado traded up to get the third pick from Houston, using it to select Clemson midfielder Phil Mayaka. The 21-year-old, another GA player, was ACC Freshman of the Year and a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy in 2019.

Mayaka emigrated from Kenya to the U.S. as a teenager.

The pick cost Colorado $200,000 in general allocation money, with Houston possibly receiving another $50,000 of 2022 GAM as part of the deal.

D.C. United took Clemson forward Kimarni Smith with the fourth pick and then acquired the fifth overall selection from Atlanta, using it to select Wake Forest defender Michael DeShields.

D.C. also got the 32nd overall pick in the deal that sent Atlanta $125,000 in general allocation money and the 31st selection.

Houston took Washington centre back Ethan Bartlow with the sixth pick. Virginia midfielder Bret Halsey went seventh to Real Salt Lake. Both are Generation Adidas players.

Orlando City used the No. 8 selection on Georgetown' forward Derek Dodson. The pick was acquired from Portland in exchange for $100,000 in general allocation money — $75,000 in 2021 and $25,000 in 2022.

Earlier Thursday, the Whitecaps flipped second-round draft picks with Nashville SC, acquiring a 2021 international roster slot in the process. Vancouver gave up the 36th overall pick, receiving the 46th overall selection.

The deal also involved an exchange of general allocation money. Vancouver sent $175,000 to Nashville with a promise of up to $75,000 in return based on "performance benchmarks" of the player selected by Nashville.

In other moves, Houston acquired former U.S. youth midfielder Derrick Jones from Nashville SC for $100,000 in general allocation money and $150,000 in 2022 GAM.


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press