After Sam Brown heard his name called Friday at the MLS SuperDraft, the first thing he did was hug his father, who sat next to him throughout two-plus hours of waiting. He then made his way to the podium to receive his jersey while oozing with excitement and happiness.
“My heart was pounding pretty badly,” Brown told The Salt Lake Tribune via telephone. “I was super pumped.”
Real Salt Lake selected Brown 17th overall in the first round of the draft. He played four years at Harvard, where he started 61 of the 62 games in which he appeared. He scored three goals and added 12 assists in his college career.
“I think RSL is a great club and organization,” said Brown, who studied physics in college. “I can’t wait to be in Salt Lake and start playing.”
Brown said that while at Harvard, his team had good years and down years. That vacillation taught him lessons in how to deal with the type of adversity he may face as a professional, he said.
Brown served as a midfielder in college. RSL already has a host of midfielders on its roster, such as Kyle Beckerman, Nick Besler and newly acquired Everton Luiz. Brown said the logjam at his position makes him “more excited to compete” for his spot on the team.
“Wherever I go, if it’s with the first team or with the [Real] Monarchs, I’ll do anything to help them win games and ultimately bring an MLS Cup back to Salt Lake,” Brown said.
Brown is not completely new to the RSL brass. He interned with the club last summer in various departments, including communications. Brown thinks the internship contributed at least somewhat to the team picking him in the draft.
“I think the more a club gets to know someone as a person, the more comfort they have in choosing them as a draft pick,” Brown said.
The club also picked University of Washington forward Kyle Coffee in the second round at No. 41 overall. Coffee — a native of Syracuse, Utah — notched 15 goals and nine assists in four seasons with the Huskies, and made 45 starts. He has spent time training with RSL and the Monarchs.
RSL also has picks 65 and 89 in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, but those will be made via conference call Monday at 11 a.m.
The organization has been busy this offseason bolstering its roster in a way that coincides with the vision and culture it has been building throughout the last few years.
With so many core homegrown players already in the fold for 2019, and with the lineup of veterans balancing the roster, it may appear RSL would not pay much attention to the MLS SuperDraft. But that’s not how general manager Craig Waibel looks at it.
Waibel told the Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday that who RSL chooses in the draft will be ones that “we believe has the ability, over the course of development, to become a consistent contributor with the first team.”
RSL did not have a first-round pick in last year’s SuperDraft. They picked Ricky Lopez-Espin in the second round and passed in the subsequent two rounds.
Orem High grad drafted by L.A. Galaxy
Emil Cuello was selected 19th overall in the MLS draft by the Galaxy. He graduated from Orem High in 2015.
After high school, Cuello played at Southern Methodist University for four years. The midfielder tallied 12 goals and 17 assists in 72 games. He was named the American Athletic Conference’s MVP and First Team All-America in his senior year.