When Austin FC selected 18-year-old CJ Fodrey with the 13th overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft 2023 presented by adidas, it marked the culmination of a lifetime of hard work. But despite being the youngest player available for selection – and the only freshman in this year’s Generation adidas class – Fodrey showed poise and recognition that this memorable moment is just the beginning.
“For me it was a dream come true,” said Fodrey of hearing his named called in the draft. “A lot of hard work over my whole life, but now the real work begins at the professional level.”
A strong, fast, and exciting winger – his current role model is Bayern Munich’s Leroy Sané – Fodrey spent the fall of 2022 as a freshman at San Diego State University, where he led the Aztecs in goals (7) and assists (4). Those numbers led to All Pac-12 First Team and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors.
Though he’ll be an MLS rookie in 2023, Fodrey already has experience competing at the professional level with San Diego Loyal of the USL Championship, where he was coached by MLS and U.S. Men’s National Team legend Landon Donovan. He scored against LA Galaxy in a 2021 preseason match and recorded his first official professional goal against Las Vegas Lights FC on August 18, 2021 to become the youngest goal-scorer in San Diego club history.
Success at a young age hasn’t fazed Fodrey though.
“It’s an extra chip on my shoulder,” he said of being the youngest player in the 2023 draft class. “I’m glad I got this opportunity at 18, but that doesn’t mean anything really to me. All the work happens from now on.
“I’m super excited to get out and meet all the guys. The team’s great, the city’s great, so I’m excited to get going at preseason.”
While Fodrey is a southern California native, he’s familiar with Austin FC, having watched the team during its run to the MLS Western Conference Final in 2022.
“Where do I start?” he said when asked what excited him most about joining Austin FC. “I watched the fans at Q2 all last year, they were electric. The staff, Claudio Reyna, and Josh Wolff – it doesn’t get any better and I’m super excited to work with them.
“Austin’s a great city, and I couldn’t be happier.”