Ties club record set last year with four players drafted
|John Manga (2015)|
The 2016 Major League Soccer Superdraft is complete and after it was all said and done, four Ocean City Nor'easters had their names called and have a chance to sign with our country's top professional league.
Rutgers teammates Mitchell Lurie and Mitchell Taintor were taken by the Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC, respectively. John Manga was selected by the Colorado Rapids, while Brendan Hines-Ike was drafted by the Montreal Impact, despite recently signing a contract with Orebro SK in Sweden. These four now make 19 former Ocean City players who have been drafted by MLS teams since the club joined the Premier Development League (PDL) in 2003, including eight since Tim Oswald took over as head coach in 2012.
"As a club, we couldn't be more proud of our alumni as they each have taken giant steps forward in their individual journeys to becoming professional athletes," said Oswald. "So many players chase this goal and dream, but very few achieve it. These four guys deserve it. It's an honor to see these guys perform as younger players in the PDL platform and rise up to the next level and be selected in the MLS draft. They have been rewarded for their efforts and the next stage of their career has begun. Our mission has clearly played out in the PDL's #path2pro model and shows our fans that future MLS players are coming to the Beach House in Ocean City each summer."
Four players taken in a single draft ties a club record set last year when Tyler Miller (Seattle Sounders FC), Keasel Broome (San Jose Earthquakes), Jordan Murrell (Real Salt Lake) and Shawn McLaws (New York Red Bulls) were selected.
The first player to be drafted came with the second pick (44th overall) of the third round when the Philadelphia Union selected Mitchell Lurie (Alpharetta, GA), who was also a co-captain for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Lurie was a Second Team NSCAA All-Region and Second Team All-Big Ten selection as a redshirt senior while leading the team in assists and helping the Knights pitch eight clean sheets, the most by an RU team since 1998. Lurie played for Ocean City from 2014-15, playing in 24 games and was voted team captain last season.
Lurie sent a special message via Twitter to the Nor'easters club after finding out he was selected by the Union: "Thank you you guys for everything these past two summers and for helping me grow immensely as a player!" (VIDEO: Mitchell Lurie's MLS profile page)
|Mitchell Taintor (left) and Mitchell Lurie were co-captains with Rutgers this year. GRAPHIC: Twitter (@RUMensSoccer)|
The next player to come off the board was defender Brendan Hines-Ike (Denver, CO) who was selected by the Montreal Impact with the 55th overall selection in the third round. After playing three seasons at Creighton University, Hines-Ike transferred to South Florida and started all 20 games for the Bulls this past year and was named to the American Athletic Conference (AAC) First Team.
He also scored a pair of goals and his performance got the attention of a number of pro scouts as he was invited to the Major League Soccer player combine, but turned down the invite and signed a four-year contract with Orebro SK of the Swedish First Division. Despite signing in Sweden, the Impact drafted him so that if he ever returns stateside, they will retain his rights. Hines-Ike played in seven games during the 2014 PDL season for the Nor'easters. (VIDEO: Brendan Hines-Ike's MLS profile page)
Four picks later, Lurie's Rutgers teammate, Mitchell Taintor (Storrs, CT) was drafted by Toronto FC with the 59th overall pick. Taintor wrapped up his senior season by scoring five goals and was second on the team with five assists and was a Second Team NSCAA All-Region and a Second Team All-Big Ten selection. He appeared in two games for the Nor'easters during the 2013 season.
|Brendan Hines-Ike at South Florida|
Taintor sent out a message of thanks via Instagram: "Extremely thankful and excited to have been drafted by @torontofc ! I also want to thank everyone else who has helped me along the way during this crazy journey. Can't wait to lace up the boots and chase the dream" (MORE: Mitchell Taintor's MLS profile page)
With the second pick of the fourth round (63rd overall), John Manga (Lexington, KY) was drafted by the Colorado Rapids. Manga's senior season was a year of what might have been at Cincinnati. Manga entered the 2015 campaign as the American Athletic Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year but a series of injuries limited him to just 12 games. Manga finished with two goals and two assists and despite not playing a full season and was named to the all-conference second team.
His talent did not go unnoticed as the Rapids drafted him. Manga was Ocean City's second leading scorer last season, scoring six goals and dishing out one assist (13 points).
"I'm just honored that the Rapids are giving me the opportunity to continue playing the game I love," said Manga. "I wasn't really expecting to be drafted due to the injury & limited play time. but now I'm back feeling healthier and just can't wait to get out there and start working! Playing for Ocean City in the summer against top quality competition week in and week out was great experience helped me grow as a player and improve my game." (John Manga's MLS profile page & Watch a video feature on John Manga from the University of Cincinnati)