Ghana’s Abu Danladi is the first overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft

Ghana’s youngster Abu Danladi has been selected by Major League Soccer (MLS)’s expansion side Minnesota United as the first overall pick of the 2017 SuperDraft.

The first round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft selected at least three known Ghanaian soccer players with other players with Ghanaian backgrounds making the first and second round picks.

The SuperDraft is an annual event, taking place in January of each year, in which the teams of MLS select players who have graduated from college or otherwise been signed by the league.

Last year, Joshua Yaro, Richmond Laryea and Emmanuel Appiah made Ghana proud when they earned first round picks by their teams, with Yaro earning the second overall pick by Philadelphia Union.

Danladi, 21, has surpassed Yaro’s record after becoming the first overall pick of the 2017 edition as he joins expansion side Minnesota United.

Danladi was born in Takoradi, Ghana. He moved to the United States in 2011 as a product of the Right to Dream Academy – a program that helps talented children from West Africa fulfill their potential by providing educational and athletic opportunities. He attended Dunn High School, winning the 2013-14 Gatorade National Player of the Year award before committing to UCLA.

According to the head coach of Minnesota United, Adrian Heath, striker Danladi is a special talent and will get better with time.

“Just huge potential, there were two or three kids that we thought were very good players, but we just feel that the upside on this kid, the sky is the limit for him.

“If we think he can do what he can do in the pro game and we think there is a lot of growth still in him as a player and as a person, then we could have a real special talent on our hands. I think the fact that nearly every club in MLS contacted us at some point too, talking about maybe wanting to trade for the pick tells us what everyone else thinks about him as well.”

Also making the first round pick is young defender Alhassan Lalas Abubakar who joins Columbus Crew SC as the fifth overall pick.

Columbus Crew head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter is hopeful that Lalas Abubakar will complement Ghanaian compatriot Harrison Afful and Jonathan Mensah at the heart of defense.

“With Lalas, he’s a very competitive guy. A lot of resiliency and very physically strong. We expect him to help out on the back line.”

In 2014, Abubakar was named Third Team NSCAA All-Midwest Region and Second Team All-Ohio. He was also named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team, UAB All-Tournament Team as well as the Dayton Defensive Player of the Year.

As a junior in 2015, Abubakar was First Team NSCAA All-Midwest Region, First Team All-Ohio, First Team Atlantic 10 All-Conference Team and once again named the Dayton Defensive Player of the Year. He was also on the Academic All-Ohio team.

In his final year of college, Abubakar was Second Team NSCAA All-Midwest Region, First Team Atlantic 10 All-Conference and the Atlantic 10 Conference Defender of the Year.

“I want to thank Columbus Crew SC for believing in me and then giving me a great opportunity. I really appreciate it and I can’t wait to start with the club”, the young Ghanaian defender noted after his selection.

Another Ghanaian product of Right to Dream, Dominic Oduro (not Dominic Oduro of Montreal Impact) was picked by Seattle Sounders as the 44th overall pick.

Some other players with Ghanaian connections were selected. They include DC United’s number 12 pick Chris Odoi-Atsem, Seattle Sounders’ 22nd pick Brian Nana-Sinkam as well as New York City FC’s number 16 pick Kwame Awuah.
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