Twelve NPSL alums were drafted in the first two rounds of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft on
Thursday. Defender Henry Kessler (#6 overall – New England Revolution), defender Nyal
Higgins (#19 overall – Toronto FC), and goalkeeper Paulo Pita (#24 overall – LAFC) were
selected in the first round.
Kessler, a semifinalist for the 2019 MAC Hermann Trophy, started 24 games for Virginia and
led a defense that finished tied for first in the nation in fewest goals allowed per game. He was
named First Team All-ACC and helped Virginia reach the national title game. The New York,
NY native spent time with Charlottesville Alliance FC.
Higgins spent time with both Oakland University and Syracuse University. The Ajax, Ontario
native played 51 games and scored four goals at Oakland, earning All-Horizon League Second
Team and Horizon League All-Freshman Team honors. Higgins started all 19 matches for
Syracuse in 2019, registering one goal and one assist as the Orange shut out the likes of
Louisville, Colgate, UConn, Morrisville, and NC State.
Pita, who played for two NPSL teams, spent his college career with Charleston and Marshall.
The Brazilian netminder started 33 games for the Golden Eagles before transferring. Pita started
39 games for the Herd, finishing with 12 clean sheets. He earned a plethora of awards, including
USC All-South Region Second Team, All-Conference USA Second Team, All-American First
Team, Most Outstanding Defensive Player, NCAA All-Tournament Team, USC All-Atlantic
Region First Team, and All-Mountain East First Team honors. Pita earned seven starts and five
wins for Chattanooga FC in 2017.
Midfielder Tanner Dieterich (#28 overall – Nashville SC), goalkeeper Daniel Gagliardi (#32
overall – Vancouver Whitecaps FC), defender Malick Mbaye (#33 overall – Toronto FC),
defender Danny Reynolds (#35 overall – Seattle Sounders FC), defender Jon Bell (#38 overall –
San Jose Earthquakes), forward Deri Corfe (#41 overall – New York Red Bulls), forward Josh
Fawole (#42 overall – D.C. United), defender Michael Wetungu (#46 overall – Real Salt Lake),
and midfielder Jack Hallahan (#50 overall – LAFC) were selected in the second round.
Dieterich, who represented the U.S. at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile, finished with 75
appearances with Clemson. Gagliardi was a standout at FIU and spent time with NPSL side
Storm FC. In four years playing with the Panthers, he made 30 starts, allowing only 37 goals
while collecting 132 saves and a 20-5-4 record with eight shutouts.
Mbaye spent three seasons at Clemson, finishing with 49 appearances. He would go on to earn
All-ACC Freshman Team, TopDrawer Soccer Best XI, and Newcomer of the Year honors.
Reynolds spent three seasons with the University of Louisville and two seasons at UNC
Wilmington, earning CAA All-Tournament Team, CAA Defensive Player of the Year, and All-
CAA First Team honors. The Shilton, England native tallied one goal and three assists during
the 2016 and 2017 seasons with Chattanooga FC. He also spent time with Cheltenham Town
FC, Reading FC, and Oxford United in England.
Bell, who played for FC Baltimore Christos, enjoyed an impressive career at UMBC. The Silver
Spring, MD native fought his way through injuries in both 2018 and 2019 to earn postseason
honors, including All-Conference Second Team, All-Northeast Region Third Team, and All-
Northeast Region First Team honors. Corfe registered 13 goals and eight assists for Wright State
in 2019. The Chester, England native played for Manchester City’s youth academy for six years.
Fawole was the second FC Baltimore Christos standout to be selected in the first two rounds.
The Columbia, MD native scored 20 goals and recorded 10 assists in 68 appearances (47 starts)
over four seasons with Loyola. Last season, the forward was selected to the All-Patriot League
First Team after scoring eight goals and recording two assists in 19 appearances (12 starts).
Wetungu, a Rochester Hills, MI native, played four seasons at Michigan State University. He
scored three goals in 72 appearances.
Hallahan had a prolific career at the University of Michigan, earning over a dozen major awards.
The Redditch, England native made 79 appearances (70 starts) for the Wolverines, finishing with
26 goals and 21 assists.
Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft will continue on Monday.
Photos and Video Courtesy of Major League Soccer, Ray Soldano/Chattanooga FC, University
of Michigan, Clemson University, and UNC Wilmington