VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC selected University of New Mexico Lobos midfielders Michael Kafari and Michael Calderon, as well as Canadian striker Mackenzie Pridham, in the final two rounds of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft on Tuesday.
“We were very excited and very lucky to pick up the three players we wanted,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “I know everyone says that, but to get the two Michaels from New Mexico is fantastic. They are both talented players. And obviously Mackenzie Pridham, a Canadian boy and centre forward who scored a lot of goals and has a fantastic work ethic.”
After trading their natural third-round pick to Columbus Crew in exchange for an international roster spot earlier in the day, the ‘Caps had three selections on Tuesday – 51st overall (third round), 58th overall (third round), and 64th overall (fourth round).
Teams could select players from the pool of draft-eligible players who were not selected in the first two rounds of last Thursday’s SuperDraft in Philadelphia.
WHITECAPS FC 2014 MLS SUPERDRAFT PICKS
Kafari highlights from the 2014 MLS Player Combine
Kafari, who Whitecaps FC selected with their lone third-round pick (51st overall), spent four seasons with the University of New Mexico Lobos of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Conference USA. The 22-year-old midfielder appeared in 82 matches for a total of 6,519 minutes with the Lobos.
This past season, Kafari was named to the NSCAA All-Midwest Region third team and Conference USA third team after starting each of his 21 appearances and helping the Lobos defence record 11 clean sheets en route to a Final Four appearance at the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound defensive midfielder chipped in with three goals and three assists during his time at the University of Mexico. Born in Accra, Ghana, Kafari holds a U.S. passport and would therefore count as a domestic player in MLS.
Watch Canadian striker Mackenzie Pridham in action
Pridham, who Whitecaps FC selected with their first fourth-round pick (58th overall), played four seasons with the California Polytechnic State University Mustangs of the NCAA’s Big West Conference. The 23-year-old striker leaves Cal Poly as the program’s all-time leader in goals scored with 27.
A native of Toronto, Ontario, Pridham is coming off back-to-back Big West Offensive Player of the Year honours. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound striker led the Mustangs in scoring with 14 goals in 2013 and 11 goals in 2012.
Vancouver used their final selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft (68th overall, fourth round) to select Michael Calderon, a midfielder from the University of New Mexico Lobos.
Calderon highlights from the 2014 MLS Player Combine
Calderon, 25, spent two seasons at New Mexico after starting his collegiate career with the Fairleigh Dickenson University Knights. In two years with the Lobos, the Costa Rican midfielder recorded 10 goals and 13 assists in 41 total appearances.
This past season, Calderon was an All-NCAA Tournament Team and first team All-Conference USA selection after finishing second on the team in goals (six) and assists (five). The 5-foot-8, 155-pound midfielder has played a key part in New Mexico’s back-to-back appearances at the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament, recording one goal and five assists in six NCAA Tournament appearances.
The 2014 Whitecaps FC training camp will get underway on Saturday, January 25, when players report to Vancouver for medical testing. On-field training will begin on Monday, January 27.
Weight: 175 pounds
Date of Birth: October 30, 1991, in Accra, Ghana
Citizenship: Ghana/United States
Last Club: University of New Mexico Lobos
How Acquired: Selected 51st overall (third round) in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft by Whitecaps FC on January 21, 2014
Weight: 180 pounds
Date of Birth: August 13, 1990, in Toronto, Ontario
Last Club: California Polytechnic State University Mustangs
How Acquired: Selected 58th overall (fourth round) in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft by Whitecaps FC on January 21, 2014
Weight: 155 pounds
Date of Birth: December 6, 1988, in San Jose, Costa Rica
Citizenship: Costa Rica
Last Club: University of New Mexico Lobos
How Acquired: Selected 64th overall (fourth round) in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft by Whitecaps FC on January 21, 2014
Whitecaps FC begin their 2014 MLS season on March 8 versus New York Red Bulls at BC Place. Season tickets start at just $349, subject to applicable fees. The 'Caps also offer a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets ($199), and a youth soccer half-season ticket ($100). For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.