Crew SC picks Dayton defender 5th overall, New Mexico forward 9th in MLS Superdraft
LOS ANGELES – Columbus Crew SC today selected two players in the First Round of the 2017 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The Black & Gold selected University of Dayton defender Lalas Abubakar with the fifth overall pick, as well as University of Mexico forward Niko Hansen with the ninth overall pick.
“We have two players that we feel have bright futures,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “I think these are two guys that we can envision contributing this year. They’re going to compete for spots. With Lalas, he’s a very competitive guy, he’s got a lot of resiliency and is very physically strong. We expect him to help out in the backline. With Niko, he’s shown in this Combine and throughout his college career that he can make plays and be a very dangerous attacker.”
Abubakar, 22, was selected in the first round, fifth overall, and played three seasons at the University of Dayton, making 61 appearances (60 starts), scoring four goals and recording six assists during his time there. Born and raised in Kumasi, Ghana, he has international experience playing for the Ghana Under-20 National Team. In 2016, Abubakar was chosen as the Atlantic 10 Conference Defender of the Year and made the Second Team NSCAA All-Midwest Region. The two-time Dayton Defensive Player of the Year also earned First Team Atlantic 10 All-Conference honors in 2015 and 2016. In his first season with the Dayton Flyers in 2014, he made the Second Team All-Ohio and the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team. He followed that with First Team NSCAA All-Midwest Region honors in 2015.
Hansen was also selected in the first round, ninth overall). The 22-year-old forward, born in Randers, Denmark, holds dual citizenship in the United States and Denmark. During his time at the University of New Mexico, he made 79 appearances (65 starts), scoring 28 goals and providing 14 assists. Hansen earned NSCAA Third Team All-American, NSCAA First Team All-Southeast Region and First Team All-Conference USA honors in his senior season in 2016. As a junior, the forward made the Second Team All-Conference USA and was named the MVP of the TLC Plumbing & Utility Invitational tournament. During his first year at the University of New Mexico in 2013, Hansen was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team.
The 2017 MLS SuperDraft resumes with the third and fourth rounds, conducted via League conference call on Tuesday, January 17.