Three NPSL alums were selected in the first two rounds of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft that took place in Chicago, Illinois on Friday, January 11th.
Forward Santiago Patino (third overall), forward DeJuan Jones (11th overall), and goalkeeper Jimmy Hague (30th overall) are all headed to the professional game after competing in the NPSL.
Patino was chosen by Orlando City SC after an impressive career at Florida International University. The Orlando, Florida native was a stellar playmaker at FIU, tallying 36 goals and nine assists in four seasons with the Panthers. Patino earned NPSL National Player of the Week honors on July 8, 2016 after scoring five goals in four league matches.
“It is a feeling that is really hard to explain,” Patino commented. “God gave me this opportunity and I am happy that Orlando City opened the doors for me again. The first couple of years are going to be tough because it is not easy. Having my family and my friends in town will make it easier for me.”
Orlando City SC head coach James O’Connor was pleased with the selection.
“I think for us we wanted to make sure that we got Santiago,” O’Connor noted. “It was important that we were able to send that message out. It was important for us that Santiago knew how much we value him and our Homegrown system.”
Patino’s physical attributes and skill set made him a quality pick at #3.
“Great size,” O’Connor continued. “Obviously he scored a decent amount of goals. Good character. He’s someone we watched a lot of.”
Jones was chosen by the New England Revolution following an impressive four years with Michigan State. The Lansing, Michigan native registered 16 goals and 14 assists with the Spartans, earning USC All-Midwest Region, All-Big Ten, Academic All-Big Ten, and Big Ten Player of the Week honors along the way.
Revolution head coach Brad Friedel praised Jones’ versatility, ability as an attacker, and athleticism in interviews after the draft. Jones is excited to be working with the American soccer legend.
“I can’t even describe how I am feeling,” Jones commented. “It’s amazing. I have been working for this my whole life. To get the opportunity with a great coaching staff, great city, great fans, I am really excited to get started and show everyone what I can do.”
Jones will be joined in the pros by Hague, a former teammate and fellow MSU standout. Hague was selected by expansion side FC Cincinnati.
Hague, a Commerce, Michigan native, earned All-Big Ten, Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year, TopDrawerSoccer.com Best XI, USC All-Midwest Region, USC Scholar All-American, and Academic All-Big Ten honors during his time with the Spartans. One of the top keepers in program history, Hague finished his collegiate career with 196 saves and an impressive 0.76 GAA in 63 appearances.
“It feels honestly incredible,” Hague concluded. “It’s a dream come true. This moment I will treasure for the rest of my life. I think my strengths are shot stopping like 1v1 scenarios and crossing because I am so big.”
The 2019 MLS SuperDraft continues Monday, January 14th with rounds three and four.
Photo Credit: Major League Soccer, USA Today Sports Images,Alex Stec/FC Cincinnati, Andy Mead/Major League Soccer