Clemson Notre Dame Soccer

Clemson’s Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador battles for the ball with Notre Dame’s Mohamed Omar in the soccer semifinal of the College Cup last month in Cary, N.C. The Colorado Rapids selected Omar with the 23rd pick of the MLS Draft.

Colorado Rapids' first selection in Tuesday’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft came with a bit of a delay.

The Rapids started the draft with the 10th overall selection but decided to trade that pick to Nashville in exchange for $125,000 in General Allocation Money, another $50,000 in Conditional General Allocation Money and the 26th pick in Tuesday’s draft, giving the Rapids two selections late in the first round.

Rapids executive vice president and general manager Padraig Smith joined the MLS broadcast to announce the club selected Notre Dame midfielder Mohamed Omar with the 23rd pick. Omar was a pivotal piece in the midfield as the Fighting Irish advanced to the College Cup. The Toronto native scored four goals and added an assist as a senior in 2021. He has trained with the Canadian under-20 national team and developed in Toronto FC’s academy.

“I’m just so excited now to head into Colorado and really just fight for my place,” Omar said in an interview on the broadcast. “They’re taking a chance on me, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

The broadcast went on to compare Omar’s game to that of another Canadian midfielder, new teammate Mark-Anthony Kaye.

“Any time you get compared to national team guys, guys who have proven themselves in MLS, it’s an honor.” Omar said. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to be in Colorado with him, be teammates with him and really just learn from him and learn from all my teammates there and be in such a wonderful environment to grow.”

Three picks later, the Rapids drafted Northern Illinois defender Anthony Markanich, who led the MAC with nine assists in 19 games last season. He also scored five goals. The Bourbonnais, Ill. native played with Chicago Fire’s academy for a year in high school. His twin brother, Nick, was selected by FC Cincinnati with the 40th pick.

“Ready to get started!” Markanich posted on Twitter after being picked by Colorado. “Can’t wait!”

The Rapids used the 45th overall pick on Roberto Molina, who played college soccer at UC Irvine, earning Big West All-Freshman team honors in 2019 before he signed with Las Vegas Lights of the United Soccer League Championship. He scored two goals and set up five others in his first professional season.

“Forever grateful for the opportunity!” Molina tweeted. “Can’t wait to get started!”

Colorado passed on selecting a player with the 51st pick, ending the club’s draft.

Recent draft picks have had a variety of roles in their respective rookie seasons in Colorado. Philip Mayaka, a midfielder from Clemson, was Colorado’s pick at No. 3 last season. After starring at Clemson, Mayaka spent his first professional season on loan at Colorado Springs Switchbacks in the USL Championship. The USL is also where Jeremy Kelly, who Colorado traded for after he was selected ninth by Montreal in the 2020 draft, has spent most of his first two professional seasons, though he did start two games in his rookie season.

Andre Shinyashiki has enjoyed the most success out of Colorado’s recent draft picks. After being selected fifth in the 2019 draft after a standout college career at University of Denver, Shinyashiki went on to win Rookie of the Year after scoring seven goals and registering three assists.

Air Force forward headed to Atlanta

For the second time in the past four years, Air Force had a player drafted by a Major League Soccer club.

Forward Tristan Trager, who started all 18 matches for the Falcons and scored 13 goals with seven assists as a senior, was picked by Atlanta United with the 47th overall pick.

“God is good,” Trager posted to Twitter in capital letters. “Can’t wait to join this amazing club.”

Trager was named the Western Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year after his senior season. Tucker Bone, a former teammate of Trager’s, was selected by Seattle Sounders with the 20th pick of the 2019 draft. Bone played for USL Championship club Sacramento Republic last season.

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