Akron freshman taken with third overall pick
BALTIMORE - The consensus was clear heading into the 2011 Major League Soccer SuperDraft: a pair of players from NCAA champion Akron were certain to be picked first and second.
But when they weren't, D.C. United was the ecstatic beneficiary, selecting Zips freshman Perry Kitchen with the third selection overall.
"I would've picked him at No. 1," D.C. coach Ben Olsen said.
Even Akron coach Caleb Porter expected Kitchen and teammate Darlington Nagbe, the Hermann Trophy winner as college soccer's most outstanding player, to be selected one after the other in some order. Instead, the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps surprised the ballroom at the Baltimore Convention Center by opting for 17-year-old U.S. under-20 national team forward Omar Salgado, a player they had an eye on since he trained with the team after signing with MLS last summer.
The Portland Timbers, the league's other new team in 2011, chose Nagbe with the No. 2 pick, leaving D.C. to grab Kitchen, a tenacious ball-winner whom Porter described as a "high-end role player" and who team president Kevin Payne said was the guy D.C. wanted all along.
General manager Dave Kasper was shocked.
"He's only 18 years old, but he's a complete player," Kasper said. "His intangibles are out of this world. He's a leader. He's got special qualities that not a lot of kids have at his age or even a lot older."
Kitchen, an Indianapolis native, played center back with the U.S. national team residency program in high school before scoring six goals in his one championship season with the Zips, with whom he played defensive midfielder.
On a day when seven Akron players were chosen in the draft, including five in the first eight picks, D.C. took two of them, also selecting defender Chris Korb with their second pick, the 31st selection overall. United also swapped a pair of picks in the MLS supplemental draft with Los Angeles for the 50th pick, which they used on Denver goalkeeper Joe Willis.
Maryland goalkeeper Zac MacMath was the first of three Terrapins selected, chosen by the Philadelphia Union with the fifth pick. Midfielder Billy Cortes (38th) went to New York and forward Jason Herrick (45th) went to Chicago.
James Madison forward C.J. Sapong (Forest Park) was the second biggest surprise of the day, taken 10th overall by Kansas City. Maryland-Baltimore County forward Levi Houapeu (Watkins Mill) was picked 41st overall by the Union.