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Four Hoya seniors drafted to Major League Soccer
This season was a huge success for the Georgetown men’s soccer team. The Hoyas finished as the second ranked team in the country, made it to the final of the College Cup, and Head Coach Brian Wiese was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Coach of the Year.
A strong senior class helped the team through a difficult schedule and drove the success that came largely from gritty, 11th hour wins. Included in these triumphs were wins over Marquette, Syracuse, and Maryland. All this came to fruition when four seniors from the team were selected in Major League Soccer drafts.
Tommy Muller, Ian Christianson, and Jimmy Nealis were taken 15th, 22nd, and 37th, respectively, in the MLS SuperDraft last Thursday, and midfielder Andy Riemer was selected in the MLS Supplemental Draft as the sixth pick. Muller will head to the San Jose Earthquakes, Christianson to the New York Red Bulls, Nealis will ply his trade with the Houston Dynamo, and Riemer will join the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Wiese is elated for his seniors. “We had such a good season and such a fun group of guys that I think did everything right,” he said, “and I think for the guys who are returning behind this group of seniors, I think they can look out and say, ‘Well that’s what happens when you do things right.’ You have a great year collectively as a group and individually these guys went out getting opportunities that recognizes what they’ve done for the program.”
Wiese thinks the success of this senior group will help attract even more talent to the growing program.
“From our end, it’s a sign of where we are trying to get to and where we want to be,” he said. “When you’re talking to recruits in the process, they all want to be pros. They’re seeing guys now going through the whole process, getting their degree and being a pro. I think that’s one of the great things about the program here now is that we’re getting kids that want to be pros, but this is about that Georgetown degree too.”
This year stands in stark contrast to the recent past, as no Georgetown men’s soccer player has been drafted since 2007. This could in part be due to the increased attention the team received during their run to the College Cup, but Wiese said he anticipated the departures even before this season.
“You don’t know when guys are going to go, but we expected all of them to go … these teams are obviously drafting them because there’s a good chance they might set to what they need. We expected all four of those, all four of our five seniors, to get drafted at some stage, so we’re very happy that it looks like they all found great starting spots on hopefully good homes to start their pro careers.”
While having four players drafted says a lot about the rise of the men’s soccer program, the departing seniors also clearly prize their education. Sticking out the four years academically is something valued by the program and the coaching staff hopes it will be a defining feature of Hoya athletes.
“Why would you put yourself through that academic rigor just to leave in a year?” said Weise. “This is about becoming a complete person, you know. In a funny way it goes back to that underlying ideal of the University, where you try to really turn, from a freshman to a senior, you really try to see the development of the whole person and that’s what’s happening to these guys. So it’s the perfect role model for what we’re looking for.”
Nealis, Riemer, and Muller have all graduated a semester early, whereas Christianson still has a semester remaining. It is not unheard of for an athlete to come back to complete their education. Most notable on the Hilltop, basketball star Jeff Green left school for the NBA but later graduated with the Class of 2012 while recovering from surgery. Clearly, at least some Hoya athletes treat Georgetown as an experience in itself, not just a springboard to the pros.
Nealis said the mentality of playing until graduation helped him wrap his head around going pro. “I’d say it took about four years before I really had the intention of playing professional soccer and needed Georgetown as my way to do that,” he said. “I think this year, going to the College Cup really helped me and the other three teammates who got drafted.”
With both the success in the College Cup and the MLS drafts, hopes are high that Georgetown soccer is on its way to becoming one of the country’s elite programs. Augmented recruiting power as well as additional monetary donations are perks of such success, generating excitement within the program for future seasons.
“I think you’re not going to see many years go by now without at least one person trying to go pro,” said Nealis. “And I think that’s a great mentality that the coaching staff has shifted the program toward.”