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Three Clemson Tigers Headed to MLS

A few weeks ago the Men's Soccer program had three of its graduating seniors get drafted and sign deals with MLS clubs.

Mark Crammer

Clemson's Men's Soccer program finished the 2014 season with a crazy ACC Tournament run that ended with the school's first conference championship in quite a few years. The Tigers owed a great deal of this season's success to the senior class. Three members of that class got a shot to prove their worth at the next level: the MLS.

Phanuel Kavita

Kavita was a four-year starter, two-year captain, and an absolute rock at the back for Clemson. He not only anchored a stingy defense but was one of the team's main leaders. Kavita was actually not drafted; instead he signed a homegrown contract with Real Salt Lake. Some of the rules for signing players in MLS are pretty convoluted since the league is a single entity (and they make things up as they go along) but basically Real Salt Lake was able to sign Kavita to a contract before the draft because of his status as a "homegrown player." Kavita is considered a homegrown player because he played for enough time or up to a certain age with Real Salt Lake's youth academy team. He also trained with RSL's reserve team, the Monarchs, during his collegiate summers.

Kavita should not have a problem transitioning to the professional level since he has been around RSL for many years. According to the network's RSL site, the club only has two or three rostered center backs, so Kavita could be called up from the reserves early on.

Amadou Dia

Dia was selected in the first round with the 20th overall pick by Sporting Kansas City. called Dia's early selection a bit of a head scratcher. I tend to agree with that, but his versatility is likely what made him an intriguing prospect for Sporting. Dia started as a winger for Clemson but was moved to fullback. Dia definitely fits the mold of a modern fullback: he possess great skill and speed to get forward and drive at defenders but also can recover. However, he is more proficient in attack than defense. A player who can play as a fullback, winger, or wide forward is a big plus in a sport where substitutions are at a premium. I'm not quite sure how Amadou will catch with the club but I expect him to have success.

Manolo Sanchez

Sanchez was taken with the 79th overall pick by New York Red Bulls. I think Sanchez will spend time with their developmental team before playing with the reserves or the first team. Like Dia, Sanchez is great at attacking defenders and possess good technical skill. Even though he played on the right for Clemson, Sanchez is not a true "heels on the chalk" winger. Instead of crossing, Sanchez prefers to drift into the middle and be involved in the middle of the action. New York is a somewhat dysfunctional franchise. They had a great season on the field but for some reason fired their coach out of the blue. We'll see how Sanchez responds to that uncertainty early on in his career.

Other news

At the beginning of the semester Clemson received a transfer from Georgia State defender Aaron Jones. The England native started 35 games in his first two seasons at GSU, with 2 goals (both free kicks) and 2 assists this past season. Jones should definitely be in the mix for a starting position at fullback and it would not surprise me if he became the starter. Jones was named to the All-Sun Belt Second Team for the 2014 season.