Minnesota United took UCLA forward Abu Danladi with the first overall pick in Friday's MLS SuperDraft in Los Angeles. The 21-year-old Ghanaian, who moved to the United States in 2011, played three seasons with the Bruins after being named national player of the year at nearby Dunn High School in 2013-14.
"There were two or three kids that we thought were very good players, but we just feel that the upside on this kid, the sky is the limit for him," Minnesota coach Adrian Heath, who was Orlando City's manager when the Lions took striker Cyle Larin with the top pick two years ago, said in a press release. "If we think he can do what he can do in the pro game and we think there is a lot of growth still in him as a player and as a person, then we could have a real special talent on our hands."
Many considered Danladi, who scored 18 goals in 42 games for UCLA, the most-talented player in the draft. But there are also questions about his durability after an injury-filled 2016 campaign.
- Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) January 13, 2017
Fellow expansion team Atlanta United selected U.S. U20 captain and Syracuse University center-back Miles Robinson with the second pick. Robinson played two seasons with the Orange and was a semifinalist for the MAC-Hermann award as college soccer's top player in 2016. Robinson could step right into a United back line that includes current and former U.S. national team defenders Greg Garza and Michael Parkhurst. Ex-U.S. center back Carlos Bocanegra is Atlanta's technical director.
New York City FC traded $250,000 in allocation funds to acquire the No. 3 selection from Chicago, and used it on Akron winger Jonathan Lewis. The speedy Lewis spent time in the Fire's academy and has been called up by both the U.S. and Jamaican U20 programs. He played just one season for the Zips, notching two goals and 12 assists in 22 games.
Another early trade landed the Portland Timbers the fourth pick from the Houston Dynamo in exchange for $100,000, an international roster spot and the 10th overall pick. The Timbers took France-born, Maryland-raised Duke forward Jeremy Ebobisse.
Columbus Crew SC stayed in state to grab the University of Dayton's junior defender Lalas Abubakar at No. 5.
- Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) January 13, 2017
UCLA midfielder Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes), Connecticut defender Jakob Nerwinski (Vancouver Whitecaps), Providence midfielder Julian Gressel (Atlanta), New Mexico forward Niko Hansen (Columbus) and Hofstra midfielder Joe Holland (Houston) rounded out the first 10 selections.
Rounds 3 and 4 will take place via conference call Tuesday.