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Nyarko heads Gen. adidas signees
by Ridge Mahoney, January 11th, 2008 7AM



[SUPERDRAFT COUNTDOWN] Last year, seven of the first-round picks in the MLS SuperDraft were Generation Adidas players. This year's initial pool is smaller yet still features some of the top collegiate talent.

First-team NSCAA/aidas All-American forward Patrick Nyarko (Virginia Tech) heads a list of six collegiate underclassmen and three high school players announced Thursday by MLS as the Generation Adidas class of 2008.

By signing with MLS they forego their remaining eligibility and are placed in the pool for the MLS SuperDraft, to be held next Friday in Baltimore. They will also participate in the adidas MLS Combine that gets underway Saturday in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Midfielder Eric Avila (UC Santa Barbara) and defender Chance Myers (UCLA) are training with the U.S. under-23 team in Bradenton, Fla. Also in the GA class are two of their teammates: former Bruin Tony Beltran (UCLA) and ex-Gaucho Ciaran O'Brien. Beltran played for the USA at the FIFA U-20 World Cup last summer in Canada. O'Brien is the son of former NASL player Fran O'Brien and younger brother of veteran pro Leighton O'Brien (MLS, USL and Sweden).

The sixth underclassman is University of San Francisco defender Rob Valentino, who redshirted in what would have been his senior year in 2007 with a knee injury.

The high schoolers are goalkeeper Josh Lambo (Chicago Magic FC), forward Alex Nimo (FC Portland) and midfielder Brek Shea (Texans FC). All three played for the U.S. under-17s at last year's world championships in South Korea.

Lambo hoped to enroll in English club Everton's youth academy, but his inability to obtain a work visa derailed him. Nimo spent time in a Liberian refugee camp before coming to the United States. He was tremendous in qualifying for the U-17 World Cup but was a disappointment in South Korea. Shea was at one point reportedly hoping to play for national champion Wake Forest University.

In last year's SuperDraft, Generation Adidas players Maurice Edu (Toronto FC, first overall), Bakary Soumare (Chicago Fire, second overall) and Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake, fourth overall) went at the start of the first round, which eventually produced seven GA picks.

Nyarko scored seven goals and 10 assists as the Hokies reached the NCAA Division I final four for the first time in the program's history. He's one of three finalists for the men's Hermann Trophy that will be announced Friday in St. Louis and is projected to be one of the first five SuperDraft picks and could go as high as No. 1, depending somewhat on whether Notre Dame senior striker Joseph Lapira, another of the Hermann Trophy finalists, decides to go overseas or sign with MLS. Lapira trained at Scottish club Rangers last summer and holds a Irish passport.


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