The UCLA men’s soccer team’s season ended abruptly over a month ago in the College Cup semifinals in Alabama, but several members of the team kick-started their professional careers by getting drafted into Major League Soccer over the past week.
Sophomore midfielder Kelyn Rowe (3rd overall to the New England Revolution) and junior forward Chandler Hoffman (13th overall to the Philadelphia Union) were chosen in the first round of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 12.
Both Rowe and Hoffman signed Generation adidas contracts prior to the draft. The contract guarantees that both players would be able to complete their degree at UCLA without having to pay. It is meant to encourage players to declare for the MLS draft earlier.
Four of UCLA’s graduating seniors also received calls from MLS clubs, but had to wait until Tuesday’s Supplemental Draft. The SuperDraft is comprised of just two rounds and 38 picks whereas the Supplemental Draft has four rounds.
Defensive midfielder and team captain Andy Rose was taken by Real Salt Lake with the 6th pick in the Supplemental Draft (44th overall). Left back Shawn Singh had his name called by Sporting Kansas City ten picks later (16th Supplemental, 54th overall), and was quickly followed by winger Eder Arreola, who was selected by the Houston Dynamo two picks later (18th Supplemental, 56th overall).
Goalkeeper Brian Rowe was the final former Bruin drafted Tuesday, and the only one whose new employers will not require him to traverse the country. Los Angeles-based Chivas USA drafted Rowe with the 5th pick of the second round of the Supplemental Draft (62nd overall).
The addition of Kelyn Rowe to the Revolution is intriguing in that New England’s two best players, Shalrie Joseph and former UCLA star Benny Feilhaber, both play Rowe’s preferred central midfield role. The Revs are pretty shorthanded in other areas of their team, but obviously felt that Rowe’s talent and playmaking ability were too much to pass up.
New England head coach Jay Heaps noted in an interview with MLSSoccer.com that Rowe could see some time in a wide midfield role in a 4-4-2, but could also remain central with Joseph and Feilhaber in a 3-5-2.
Hoffman also joins something of a logjam at his position in Philadelphia; the Union’s host of forwards already includes USA national team prospect Freddy Adu, former Oregon State Beaver and 2010 No. 1 overall pick Danny Mwanga, French striker Sebastien Le Toux and former Bruin Kyle Nakazawa.
However, both Le Toux and Adu can be employed as wide midfielders. This would leave Hoffman free to roam the middle alongside Mwanga, with Nakazawa filling in where needed.
In addition to Nakazawa, Hoffman also joins former UCLA teammate Amobi Okugo in Philadelphia, who spent just one year in Westwood before being selected 6th overall by the Union in 2010.
Rose joins a Real Salt Lake team that already sports USA national team member Kyle Beckerman in Rose’s defensive midfield role.
Rose can play center back as well, but Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers will likely sit above him on the depth chart in that position.
However, Beckerman is 29 years old and both Olave and Borchers are 30, so Rose, who turns 22 in February, will get his chance at a starting job eventually, and should provide solid minutes off the bench in the time being.
Singh and Arreola will likely provide depth for Kansas City and Houston, respectively, while Brian Rowe will be able to seek tutelage from veteran goalkeeper Zach Thornton at Chivas USA while serving as cover for starter Dan Kennedy.
Compiled by Daniel Khayat, Bruin Sports reporter.