CHICAGO – Four Maryland Terrapins soccer players capped off a national championship season by being drafted in the MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 11 — sending them to Texas, Minnesota and even Canada to start their pro careers.
Dayne St. Clair, Chase Gasper, Andrew Samuels and Amar Sejdic were taken in the first two rounds, as Maryland becomes the school with the most players selected (28) in the last 10 years of the SuperDraft.
All four Terps are coming off of a championship winning season, after defeating the Akron Zips 1-0 to earn Maryland its fourth NCAA College Cup title.
“I could not be more proud of this group,” Maryland Head Coach Sasho Cirovski said, following the championship victory. “We talked about this being a big moment for our program. They were pushed and hardened after a challenging schedule. And now, they’re jewels. I am incredibly happy for them.”
St. Clare was the first goalkeeper selected in the SuperDraft after ending his Maryland career by starting every game for the past two seasons — shutting out opponents for the last 500 minutes of their championship run and recording 13 shutouts this year.
He was drafted seventh overall by Minnesota United. Loons Head Coach Adrian Heath compared the redshirt junior’s prospects to another former Terp goalkeeper, Zack Steffen, who recently was transferred to the English club Manchester City, following his standout performances with Columbus Crew S.C. and the U.S. National Team.
“The first thing that jumps out at you is his sheer athleticism,” said Heath. “He’s young for a goalkeeper — 22 — but he’s got everything. The people we spoke to believe he has unbelievable potential, and at this moment, that’s what it is. But you’ve just seen Zack Steffen go to England — similar type of guy, went to Maryland — for $6 million. This kid’s got huge upside.”
Minnesota would move up in the draft, trading $50,000 in general allocated money to add another Terp in Gasper, with the 15th overall pick. The 6-foot, 185-pound Alexandria, Virginia, defender tied a school record of three assists in one game against Ohio State on Oct. 19.
Minnesota’s adding St. Clair and Gasper will look to bolster their back line after a season that saw them place 10th in the Western Conference and tie the San Jose Earthquakes at second in the entire league in terms of goals allowed (71).
“Ever since I started playing soccer at three years old, I’ve wanted to play in MLS and to get selected by such an incredible club as Minnesota [United FC]. I couldn’t be happier,” said Gasper.
Samuels, the third member of Maryland’s defense in the SuperDraft, was taken by the Houston Dynamo in the second round. He started in 23 games this past season and in 81 games in his career. He joins a Houston side that finished ninth in the Western Conference last season, with a 2-10-5 away games record.
“It was kind of nerve wracking just sitting there in the crowd, but knowing that I’m going to Houston, where I also have [former] Terps like A.J. DeLaGarza and Michael Dellorusso, which helps also ease the feeling of getting into the locker room and knowing I have people to talk to if I struggle,” said Samuels.
Sejdic, Maryland’s star midfielder with a team-high eight goals last season, moves north to Canada to join the Montreal Impact, who just missed the playoffs last season after placing seventh in the Eastern Conference. Sedjic scored the sole goal in the Terrapins’ win in this year’s College Cup final and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
“Amar is an intelligent player who sees the game well,” said Montreal Impact’s Head Coach Rémi Garde. “He’s a player who can help our midfield with his vision and his forward-passing. I hope he’ll be able to quickly close the gap between the university level and the professional level.”
Maryland may lose a fourth member of their defense, as center back Donovan Pines may skip his senior season to sign a homegrown contract with D.C. United or explore European opportunities, according to reports. Striker Sebastian Elney and Ashton, Maryland native DJ Reeves were not drafted in any round of the draft and will be free to negotiate with any club.