Atlanta United got exactly who it wanted in the first round of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, held Friday in Chicago, when the team selected UCLA’s Anderson Asiedu with the last pick of the first round, the 24th selection overall.
“We are very fortunate that we had the chance to pick him,” Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer told reporters in Chicago after the day was done. “He was our number one pick. And you can say ‘oh, well of course you’d say that,’ but it’s really true. He was the most valuable player of the combine. That means he had a good combine of course, but it also [added to] the qualities we saw. I think he can be a good player for Atlanta United.”
Asiedu was energetic, thankful, emotional and, well, really funny in his interview with MLS’s Susannah Collins immediately after his selection.
“I just want to go out there and prove myself,” said Asiedu. “All I asked for was opportunity. Life is all about opportunity and I thank Atlanta United for trusting in me and giving me the opportunity to prove myself to become who I want to be.
“They saved the best for last,” Asiedu quipped, causing Collins to clutch her chest out of pure joy. “I’m willing to go out there and give it all. This is my life, this is my chance for me to prove myself to America and the whole world that this is me, Anderson Asiedu.”
“They saved the best for last.”
Anderson Asiedu’s first words after being picked by the reigning champs pic.twitter.com/Wct4sNBZVr
— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) January 11, 2019
There’s no question where Asiedu fits on the field. With his short stature and low center of gravity at only 5’6” 155 pounds, Asiedu is the definition of a midfield terrier — a player who will sit at the base of a three-man midfield and make life hell for the opposition.
“He’s very energetic, I think we already saw that,” de Boer said with a smile to reporters. “I think he’s a footballer with different kinds of qualities. He’s comfortable on the ball, but also in the position he plays as a control midfielder… he’s like a busy bee that’s all around the players and all the time his feet are somewhere. I think you need that kind of person at that position.”
Asiedu told reporters that he was happy Atlanta saw him as a ball-winning midfielder, as he claims it’s his clear and obvious strength. Asiedu said when he played at UCLA, coaches played him in an attacking midfield role, which doesn’t suit his primary qualities.
“He’s a control midfielder — to be connected with the defense and of course the offensive midfielders and the attack,” said de Boer. “This position is very important. What I saw, he has the quality to fill that position in our midfield hopefully in the future. We had our interview not only with me, but with Carlos and our staff. He made an impression, always with a big smile. He’s very positive with a good work ethic and we’re very glad to have him.”
Asiedu, 22, is a native of Dormaa Ahenkro, Ghana and played collegiately at UCLA and Monmouth University. He was a two-time All-Pac 12 Conference player and totaled four assists and three goals in two seasons with the Bruins. Asiedu was named MVP of the 2019 MLS Combine. Before transferring to UCLA, he was named All-MAAC in his two seasons with Monmouth where he recorded five assists and two goals. Asiedu moved to the United States in 2013 and attended St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey where he won the 2014 National Championship.
His story is absolutely incredible and is captured here by app.com. His mother passed away in 2006 when Asiedu was only nine years old, and he bounced around from house to house without electricity before eventually having no real caretaker and living at a school.
“I didn’t even know you had to go to the bathroom inside,” he laughed. “Back home you go everywhere. So I was looking for a spot to do it and Sylvers is, ‘No, no, you can’t do that.’
“I’m excited because not just a regular team picked me. The best team in the country, the best team in the nation picked me. I’m so excited,” Asiedu told reporters as squealed with glee. “I can’t wait to prove who I am as a person. The humbleness in the locker room, the respect to the players who have paved the way for me to be in the same locker room as them. I can’t wait to get started.”
2nd round: Amir Bashti
Amir Bashti, 21, played four years at Sanford where he won three consecutive NCAA National Championships in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and totaled 19 goals and 13 assists. He was named First Team All-Pac 12 in 2018 after scoring seven goals and adding six assists.
Players report for medicals Monday, Jan. 14 with the first day of training taking place at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground on Tuesday, Jan. 15.