Jan. 13, 2011
BALTIMORE - California produced a program-best five selections in Thursday's 2011 Major League Soccer SuperDraft held at the Baltimore Convention Center, with senior defender A.J. Soares joining the New England Revolution with the sixth pick in the first round. That marked the highest a Golden Bear has been chosen in the various incarnations of the MLS draft. Cal also tied for third on the list of most players taken in the MLS draft from one school by having five players chosen today.
Cal senior defender Demitrius Omphroy (Toronto FC chose him 26th overall), senior midfielder Servando Carrasco (Seattle Sounders, No. 27) and senior midfielder Hector Jimenez (Los Angeles Galaxy, No. 34) were drafted in the second round. The Chicago Fire selected Bears senior forward Davis Paul in the third round at No. 51 overall.
"It's an historic day for the Cal soccer program," Cal head coach Kevin Grimes said. "Having five players selected in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft is an amazing accomplishment for these guys. Our administration, alumni, coaching staff and current student-athletes couldn't be more proud and excited to see five more of our players in MLS uniforms this season. Clearly, Cal is one of the premiere programs in this country for developing talent for the professional ranks."
"I was just really excited," Soares said of hearing his name called. "I'm glad to get the opportunity to play for one of most storied franchises in MLS. Playing professionally has definitely been my plan forever, and now the day has finally come. It's just beginning. Now I have to work hard when I get to New England."
On Jan. 12, at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, a dolphin named Chesapeake predicted that Soares would be the first player drafted today. While New England took him at No. 6, Soares was indeed the first college senior taken in today's SuperDraft.
"Oh my God, it feels amazing!" Jimenez said. "Like a dream come true. I was telling my dad, this is something I always worked for. It's an honor, being that it's the team from my backyard that I've gone to watch play so many times. It's amazing."
"It was actually pretty nerve wracking to sit and wait," Carrasco said. "I didn't know what round I'd get drafted in or even if I would get drafted. I'm glad that's over."
Carrasco, Jimenez and Soares served as Cal co-captains in the fall 2010 season.
Omphroy and Paul join former Cal stars at their respective new teams, as Stefan Frei is currently in his third year in Toronto and Carr is in his sixth year with the Fire.
"It was awesome," Omphroy said. "It was out of nowhere. I had no idea they were interested in me. I was just so excited and ecstatic when I found out. I'm really, really happy."
Paul was at Disneyland when he heard his draft status.
"I wanted to stay away from the draft and thought I could check on it later," Paul said. "I was getting text messages and calls from friends saying how the other guys got picked, and I was right about to go on the Indiana Jones ride when my phone started blowing up. That's how I got the news. I have not been to Chicago, but I know a few people there and my fiancée has been there quite a bit. We're pretty excited."
The five Bears led Cal to arguably the best season in school history. The Bears reached the NCAA Tournament quarterfinal round before falling to eventual national champion Akron on penalty kicks. Soares (first team), Paul (third team) and junior goalkeeper David Bingham (second team) earned NSCAA All-America honors, Soares garnered the Pac-10 Player of the Year Award and Grimes collected the Pac-10 Coach of the Year award for an unprecedented fifth time.
"We had such a good senior class, this is a testament to what we did this year and what the coaches did for us throughout our careers," Carrasco said of Cal's draft success. "Much of the credit goes out to Kevin and Pieter [Lehrer, Cal's assistant coach]."
"This is a reflection of our program, our coaches and the caliber of soccer there," Omphroy added. "We're capable of getting even more guys drafted. In the years to come, we're going to continue to build the legacy of a great program."