Austin FC drafted five players over the three rounds in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas on Thursday, January 21st, including the top overall pick and two additional first-rounders. In total, the Club brought in a top Generation adidas talent, two players with considerable college experience, and two more players who moved from college to the USL Championship in their development. The five players selected will add depth to the developing roster.
With the first overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas, Austin FC took Daniel Pereira, a Venezuelan-born midfielder who played two seasons with Virginia Tech before entering the SuperDraft as a Generation adidas player. Pereira, who moved to the U.S. with his parents in 2015, scored six goals and added six assists in all 26 matches with the Hokies over two seasons. He was named to the ACC All-Freshman team in 2019, after a distinguished high school career that included a trip to his division’s state championship match, scoring 44 goals in a single season and breaking his school’s points record.
“He’s uber-talented,” said Virginia Tech coach Mike Brizendine to the Roanoke Times when Pereira signed his Generation Adidas contract on Christmas Eve. “At every level that he’s been at, he’s excelled. So I have no doubt he will excel at [the MLS] level.”
Austin FC also obtained the 11th pick in the first round, by virtue of an Expansion Draft trade with CF Montreal, and used it to draft Freddy Kleemann, a 6’4” center back from the University of Washington. He made 28 appearances for the Huskies in 2018 and 2019, starting 22 of those matches, and was heading into his redshirt junior season before the pandemic put a pause on Pac-12 competition in 2020.
Jamie Clark, Kleemann’s coach at UW, noted on the school’s athletic site, “He's a physically strong central defender that loves to play out of the back. His time as a central midfielder growing up really helps him as he is as composed a defender as we have recruited.”
Then, via a trade with Colorado, the Club got a third pick in the first round, and used the 21st overall pick to select Aedan Stanley.
Stanley played 37 matches between 2018 and 2019 at Duke University before signing with Portland Timbers II of the USL Championship for the 2020 season. Even more recently he signed with Sporting Kansas City II for the upcoming season before the SuperDraft changed his destination.
With Duke, Stanley played center back for all 20 games he appeared in during the 2018 season. He split time between defense and wide midfield during the 2019 season. With the Timbers II, Stanley started and went the full 90 in all 16 of his appearances.
Austin FC chose Virginia forward Daniel Steedman with the first pick in the second round.
The Scottish-born Steedman played with the Cavaliers in 2018 and 2019 before moving to the USL Championship’s Atlanta United 2 in January 2020. He made the ACC All-Freshman team in 2018, and helped lead top-seeded Virginia to the finals of the 2019 NCAA College Cup with a three-goal, seven-assist season, making the College Cup All-Tournament team as well. Steedman also featured in USL with the Charlotte Independence in 2018.
“Daniel is a versatile attacking player who has had a great college career,” said Stephen Glass, then the Atlanta United 2 coach, upon the club signing him at the beginning of last year.
With the first pick in the third round, Austin FC looked to add to its goalkeeping platoon with Noah Lawrence, who transferred to Ohio State for a pandemic-halted senior season after 36 appearances in three seasons for University of Cincinnati. Lawrence, who developed in both the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United Academies, was also part of the U.S. Men’s Youth National Team U-19 pool.
“Noah is a very explosive goalkeeper who can make the game-changing save,” said Ohio State coach Brian Maisonneuve on the Buckeyes’ website. “Noah comes to us from Cincinnati where he got some tremendous experience. He is extremely hard working and a true competitor.”