Home European football England Marlon Hairston, Grant Van De Casteele picked by Rapids in MLS draft

Marlon Hairston, Grant Van De Casteele picked by Rapids in MLS draft


Hairston, a box-to-box midfielder with a bent for defense, could spot up in any midfield position for the Rapids or an outside defender.

“I definitely want to play,” Hairston said. “I’m going to work hard every day and try to earn a spot right away in the 18 or the 11.”

But Hairston, 19, originally of Jackson, Miss., takes up a Generation Adidas spot on the Rapids’ roster — an MLS and U.S. Soccer rule that allows teams to develop young players with part of their salary not counting against the league salary cap.

Hairston, whose cousin LaMarcus Aldridge plays for the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA, said he’s keenly aware the Rapids are a young team with chances to play.

“They showed me great love,” Hairston said of his pre-draft interviews with the Rapids. “They really wanted me to come down and be part of their organization. And I really know I’m going to a club that gives young players an opportunity.”

Colorado’s first-round picks in 2013, Deshorn Brown (6th) and Dillon Powers (11th) were both rookie of the year candidates before Powers won the award.

The Rapids came in this year with the 11th pick, but they traded with the New England Revolution to move down to No. 12 and acquire the 19th pick.

At No. 19, the final pick in the first round, the Rapids selected Notre Dame defender Grant Van De Casteele.

The 22-year-old Van De Casteele is likely something close to MLS-ready as a 6-foot-2 defender. The Rapids are in need of defensive help, but it appears that other teams thought the same — 11 defensive players were picked in the first round.

“I was genuinely suprised” at being picked by the Rapids, Van De Casteele said by phone from Texas. “They didn’t interview me. I didn’t know if that was a bad sign. With the draft, there’s so much uncertainty, you never can tell.”

Van De Casteele is a right-veering center back who played with Powers both in college and at the club level in Plano, Texas. Van De Casteele started in all 24 games for Notre Dame last season, helping lead them to the NCAA title.

“As a center back, that’s the position I project at at the next level,” Van De Casteele said. “It’s one core idea, one set of characteristics as a player, that I have at the center spot. But I’m open to both options. I played outside before college too.”

The Rapids also drafted midfielder Jared Watts from Wake Forest at No. 33 and goalkeeper John Berner from Southern Illinois-Edwardsville with the 35th pick.

Watts, a defensive midfielder, was described by one coach as “not just a simple goon set out to crunch anyone who comes near the ball,” according to the MLS.

Berner, at 6-3 and 205 pounds, is a burly goalkeeper who joins a currently crowded position in Colorado. Clint Irwin, who started the majority of Colorado’s games last season, enters his second MLS season in a battle for the top spot with veteran Matt Pickens.

New England at No. 11 took two-time NCAA player of the year Patrick Mullins from Maryland, the most highly-touted player in the draft. Mullins, a forward, dropped in a defender-heavy draft as teams apparently couldn’t peg him to a specific style of play.

Tesho Akindele from Division II Colorado Mines was the first pure forward picked in the draft. He went at No. 6 to ex-Rapids coach Oscar Pareja, who broke off to FC Dallas earlier this month.

UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake went with the No. 1 pick to the Philadelphia Union, after the team traded up to swap picks with DC United. Blake was the consensus best player in the draft, but United is set in goal with U.S. national team player Bill Hamid.

DC at No. 2 picked Steve Birnbaum, a defender from California. Another Cal defender, Christian Dean, went No. 3 to the Vancouver Whitecaps, after the Whitecaps traded up from Toronto FC.

Also, Kyle Venter, who graduated from Aurora’s Smoky Hill High before starring at New Mexico last season, went to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the second round with the 23rd pick. And Robbie Derschang, who went to Cherry Creek High before playing at Akron, was picked at No. 27 by Philadelphia.

Written by Steve Milne – What are you thoughts? Have your say below 🙂


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