[MLS ROOKIE CLASS: Ten to Watch] One of the hottest prospects in the MLS SuperDraft -- and one of two Cal defenders expected to go among the top five picks -- is junior Christian Dean, who signed a Generation adidas contract. Dean's story is remarkable in that four years ago he dropped soccer and moved from his home in California to Montana to be with his biological older brother, Josh Huestis, who was finishing up his championship basketball career.
MLS Rookie Class: Ten to Watch
1. Jordan Allen (Univ. of Virginia-signed with Real Salt Lake)
Read his story. Follow @jayalllen.
2. Steve Birnbaum (Univ. of California)
Read his story. Follow @StevenBirnbaum
3. Marlon Hairston (Univ. of Louisville)
Read his story. Follow @MARLYG10
4. Christian Dean (Univ. of California)
Huestis and Dean were adopted by separate families from their biological family in Alvin, Texas. Huestis, who stands 6-foot-7, played basketball, while Dean played soccer, but they always found time from their busy youth sports schedules to see each other -- as well as their family back in Texas, in very much an open adoption.
With Dean watching in the stands, Huestis capped his senior year at Russell High School in Great Falls, Mont., with a state title and enrolled at Stanford, near Dean's home in East Palo Alto, Calif., and starts for the Cardinal in his senior year.
Back home, Dean resumed his soccer career with De Anza Force and was good enough to be recruited by Cal, where he immediately stepped into the starting lineup in 2011. He started all 18 games in 2012 and all 21 games in 2013, but it was only this fall he began to get a lot of attention.
Unranked in preseason, the Golden Bears were No. 1 within weeks after opening with wins over 2012 College Cup teams Georgetown and Maryland. With red-shirt senior Steve Birnbaum at his side, Dean helped Cal jump out to a 12-0-2 record and eventually a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament -- its highest ever.
Dean is only the fourth Cal player to sign a GA contract after David Bingham in 2011, Stefan Freiand Andrew Weideman.
“Christian had an excellent season,” Cal head coach Kevin Grimes, a former defender with five caps for the USA, said after Dean's signing. “He has a tremendous upside in the very near future in MLS and his combination of skill and athletic ability are very rare.”
While Dean might not be as polished as Birnbaum, that upside makes him likely to go very early in Thursday's SuperDraft, perhaps as high as No. 1 to D.C. United, which would use help on its backline.