Major League Soccer expansion club Charlotte FC selected Maryland midfielder Ben Bender as the first pick in the MLS SuperDraft draft on Tuesday.
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Selected among the All-Big Ten in his first two campaigns, Bender was unanimously the Big Ten midfielder of the year in 2021 for the Terrapins. As a two-way midfield presence, Bender will provide depth for a Charlotte side who also have Spain playmaker Sergio Ruiz among their attacking options.
Charlotte will begin playing as the 28th MLS club in the upcoming 2022 season, with the North Carolina club’s inaugural game on February 26 at DC United before hosting the LA Galaxy in their opener. at home on March 5.
“It’s amazing,” Bender said on the draft live stream. “I can’t wait to get started, and I know the football there will be a good mark and… I just want to be a part of it.”
FC Cincinnati led Indiana University goaltender Roman Celentano with the second overall pick. The two-time Big Ten first goalie of the year, Celentano had a career 37-10-5 record with the Hoosiers, allowing just 33 goals in 52 games.
When asked why he picked Celentano, Cincinnati manager Pat Noonan told MLSSoccer.com: “It’s an area that needs to be. He offers good depth. He will come up with it. good character, good potential. We’ve seen and heard a lot about him in the past months, and he’s going to be a great piece for this team. “
FC Dallas then selected University of Saint Louis striker Isaiah Parker with the third cap. In his only college season, the left winger scored three goals and added seven assists. Parker’s speed is such that he could end up playing any number of positions for FCD.
Houston Dynamo FC selected Duke forward Thorleifur Ulfarsson with the fourth pick and Austin FC selected Saint Louis defender Kipp Keller to complete the first five caps.