[MLS SPOTLIGHT] It's one thing to be a Generation adidas pick or one of the high-profile college seniors whom MLS signs before the SuperDraft to lock into a contract. Most college draft picks head to spring training as longshots to make it until the final cuts around March 1 when clubs must be cap compliant. But two players taken in the third round -- French-American George Fochive (Portland) and Ghanaian Fifi Baiden (Columbus) -- have already landed MLS contracts. For look at how 2014 SuperDraft picks are faring in preseason.
2014 SuperDraft Starters:
PICK TEAM PLAYER
5 Montreal: D Eric Miller
9 San Jose: M J.J. Koval
11 New England: M Patrick Mullins
20 Chivas USA: LW Thomas
(Players who started Feb. 22-23 in tournament play.)
GEORGE FOCHIVE. On Tuesday, the Timbers signed Fochive, selected by Portland with
the first pick of the third round, and second-round pick Aaron Long.
Fochive was born in Washington but grew up in Clermont-Ferrand, France. He had
offers to turn pro out of high school in France but chose to play college ball. He didn't qualify academically for a Division I program so he started out at Hawaii Pacific, a Division II school, and
did well enough on the field with the Sea Warriors and in the classroom that he was able to transfer to Connecticut, where he started two seasons.
BAIDEN. Baiden's soccer journey to MLS is even more improbable as he was born in Ghana to a family so poor he helped his parents out by selling kerosene. His break came when he earned a scholarship to the
Right to Dream Academy in Accra and eventually another scholarship to the Dunn School, a boarding school in Los Olivos, Calif.
Baiden is one of several Right to Dream players who have
gone on from Dunn to play college soccer. Ema Boateng spent one season at UC Santa Barbara with Baiden before signing last summer with Sweden's Helsingborg.
Dunn senior Abu Danladi just signed with UCLA as part of the nation's top recruiting class.
A few of the other third- and fourth-round picks still
in the hunt for MLS roster spots:
RICHARD MARQUEZ. The lone Division III pick out of Redlands should make the Philadelphia Union roster as it is thin
at center back. Just how much the Union likes Marquez was evident as it released a pair of defenders Kevin Cope (Michigan State) and Robbie Derschang (Akron) taken ahead of him in the second round.
ALBERT EDWARD. The lone Australian taken in the
SuperDraft (68th overall) has battled long odds just to make into the Rapids' camp. He was a walk-on at NAIA powerhouse Lindsey Wilson. If he sticks, he won't be the first MLS defender to have played
for the Blue Raiders. Lindsey Wilson MLS products include Tyrone Marshall and Shaun Francis.
FABIO PERREIRA. The Brazilian out of the University of Michigan was the last player taken in the SuperDraft at No. 77 but he scored on Sunday for the Seattle Sounders in
their 4-0 win over the College of Charleston a day after they opened play at the Carolina Challenge Cup against the host Charleston Battery. The Sounders took 31 players to Charleston, so along with
Clint Dempsey (on loan to Fulham) and Shalrie Joseph (still under contract), that makes 33 players for 30 spots and
Perreira still a longshot to make the team.
2014 SuperDraft Pick Signings:
1 Philadelphia: GK Andre Blake (Connecticut).
2 D.C. United: D Steve Birnbaum (California).
3 Vancouver: D Christian
5 Montreal: D Eric Miller (Creighton).
D Damion Lowe (Hartford).
12 Colorado: M Marlon Hairston (Louisville).
16 Houston: A.J. Cochran (Wisconsin).
17 Portland: Schillo Tshuma (Maryland).
4 New England: F Steve Neumann (Georgetown).
11 New England:
F Patrick Mullins (Maryland).
7 Vancouver: M Andre Lewis
9 San Jose: M J.J. Koval (Stanford).
D Marco Franco (UC Irvine).
14 Columbus: D Ben Sweat (USF).
19 Colorado: D Grant Van De Casteele
20 Chivas USA: D Thomas McNamara (Clemson)
26 Portland: D Taylor
33 Colorado: M Jared Watts (Wake Forest).
34 Houston: F Mark Sherrod (Memphis)
35 Colorado: GK John Berner (SIU-Edwardsville).
36 Portland: M Aaron Long (UC Irvine)
39 Portland: M George Fochive (Connecticut).
42 Columbus: M Fifi Baiden (UC Santa
54 Houston: GK Michael Lisch (New Mexico).
Note: Louisville defender Jimmy
Ockford (taken in the second round with the No. 21 pick) tweeted on Tuesday that he had been signed by Seattle and was being
loaned to the New York Cosmos.