The Sons of Ben were out in full force for the Superdraft, but they had to wait until the 31st pick for their team to be on the clock. The Philadelphia Union traded the 10th overall pick for CJ Sapong so they were left with the 31st overall pick as well as the 41st which they acquired from Colorado.
For many of the fans, myself included, it was well worth the wait though. With the 31st overall pick, the Philadelphia Union selected Dzenan Catic out of Davenport University. Catic took a much different route to Major League Soccer than most of his peers though.
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Born in Bosnia, Catic moved to the United States at the young age of eight. While a senior in high school, Catic tried his craft in Europe with German side, Kaiserslautern. While he did not enjoy the success he had hoped while there, he did find success with NAIA school, Davenport University. He could not play for a NCAA school because by going pro, he had lost his eligibility.
He scored an astonishing 63 goals in his two seasons there, leading to many honors including being named NAIA player of the year. Catic impressed at the combine as well which led to many being shocked that he fell to the 31st overall pick.
When his name was called, Catic walked up to the podium and was immediately overcome with emotion. Obviously tears of joy, Catic relished in the moment and the chance to mark his spot in MLS with the Philadelphia Union. “I’m going to work my butt off and hopefully I can play soon and show the city of Philadelphia that I want to win,” Catic said.
Catic, a big forward standing 6’3”, hopes to get his chance on the Union to shine and show why Jim Curtin believes in him. After Catic’s strong combine as well as impressive display at Davenport University, many expected him to go early in the draft. When he fell to the Union at pick 31, they had to take him.
The Philadelphia Union had one other pick in the second round of the MLS Superdraft which was pick 41. With that pick they selected now national champion, Eric Bird. Bird was a crucial midfielder for the Virginia Cavaliers for the past 4 seasons.
Much of this past college season, Bird was dealing with a nagging groin injury which ultimately had him miss the combine and fall down the draft board. Bird plays in a deeper lying playmaking role in the midfield similar to Vincent Nogueira.
Bird will have a very good mentor in Nogueira being of similar size and roles. Eric Bird has shown he is a winner though, helping to lead Virginia to the national championship over UCLA with Union academy product, Darius Madison, this past season. Hopefully Bird can bring that winning mentality to the Union and help lead them to their first ever trophy.
Whether or not Catic and/or Bird end up making the team remains to be seen, but the Union staff seem to think they have a good shot. As a fan of the Philadelphia Union, I know I am very excited about these two and hope to see them get minutes in 2015.