For the second straight year, Atlanta United’s academy has seen former players selected in the MLS Superdraft. In 2022, with the 35th overall pick, Austin FC selected Charlie Asensio. With 11 eligible players in the draft from Atlanta’s academy tonight, the chances were high that we would see the second-ever player chosen.
While he had to wait through a lengthy first round to make history, Penn State’s Liam Butts became the second-ever Atlanta United product selected in the draft as the 33rd overall pick and now the highest-ever selection in the draft in academy history.
NEWS: With the 4th pick in the @MLS #SuperDraft second round, the Quakes select @PennStateMSOC forward Liam Butts! pic.twitter.com/oeEuK9QOQW— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) December 22, 2022
Russell Shealy captured the hearts of many college soccer fans this year as they watched his heroic season in goal unfold. His glorious penalty kick saves to win the national championship for the second time became that much more meaningful thanks to a featurette about the pets of some of the players. I’m happy to introduce you to Bella, Russell’s adorable potbelly pig.
Prospective draft pick Russell Shealy has the ultimate fan at home: his pet pig, Bella!— Major League Soccer (@MLS) December 21, 2022
We hope to see her on the sidelines in 2023. pic.twitter.com/LHHrNdoZW4
With that video in everyone’s minds, it felt perfect that he would be heading to Hollywood (actually Carson, but just go with it) as he was selected by the LA Galaxy as the 52nd overall pick. Shealy is a strong distributor and shot-stopper with a chance at making the Galaxy’s MLS roster, but the chances are higher that he will be playing for the Galaxy’s MLS NEXT PRO side in 2023.
With the 52nd overall pick, we have selected goalkeeper Russell Shealy from @CuseMSOC. pic.twitter.com/tx1BGQXsyH— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) December 22, 2022
The final bit of excitement for 5-Stripes fans on the night came from hearing Mercer’s stellar central midfielder Ousman Jabang’s name get called. Selected as the 75th overall pick, Jabang will be heading north to join fellow former 5-Stripe George Campbell in Canada. With Montreal going through a bit of a rebuild, Jabang has a real chance to use his technical quality and athleticism to work his way into Montreal’s plans.
CF Montréal selects defender Ousman Jabang at #17 in the 3rd round of the MLS SuperDraft 2023 #CFMTL— Giuseppe Campanelli (@giuseppecam22) December 22, 2022
Congratulations to all of these players and best of luck in their upcoming training camps with their new clubs.
For the other 8 prospects who were not selected today, Dylan Gaither will be returning to Mercer for one more season and the others will likely be looking to secure trials with MLS sides, USL sides, and potentially 4th division teams in the coming weeks. Best of luck to Takuma Suzuki, Mike Ille, Will Crain, Kendall Edwards, Luke Mitchell, Thomas Toney, Collin Travasos, and Jeremiah Luoma as they continue to pursue their careers in professional soccer. We may be hearing some of their names back in Atlanta very soon.