January 17, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Philadelphia Union
INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 17, 2013) - The Philadelphia Union selected forward Don Anding and Stephen Okai with the No. 26 and No. 31 pick in the MLS SuperDraft inside the ballroom of the Indiana Convention Center. The Union was originally scheduled to select with the No. 26 and No. 29 picks, but traded away its 29th spot to Real Salt Lake, for the No. 31 selection, in addition to two first round selections (No. 12 and No. 17) in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft next week.
Anding, 21, a senior forward from Northeastern University, was a 2012 College Player of the Year semifinalist and an NSCAA third team All-American. A native of Amity Harbor, N.Y., Anding was named the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year in his junior season (2011) and was the CAA Rookie of the Year in 2009. Anding is considered by scouts to have great speed but Union manager John Hackworth feels his strength is his versatility.
"Athletically he is very gifted but it was his character that won us over," said Hackworth. "When you are looking for a guy to work in a couple of different positions, his personality and the fact that he'll work hard along with the natural tools and gifts that he has he was a guy that we wanted and we feel fortunate to grab him."
In Okai, 23, a native of Ghana who was drafted from the University of Mobile (Ala.), Hackworth believes he has a player that does need fine tuning but is MLS ready. The senior midfielder and former Ghanian youth international was the 2012 NAIA Player of the Year and was an NAIA All-America selection. He also played briefly under Union assistant coach Brendan Burke at Union developmental affiliate Reading United. In 23 games for Mobile, Okai netted 10 goals and dished nine assists.
"Stephen is probably one of the most ready players in this draft that can step onto an MLS team and play right away," said Hackworth. "He's experienced beyond his years and having a lot of personal knowledge of him...it was hard to deny that he was going to be a guy that we weren't looking at."
Both draft selections are scheduled to appear in camp as the Union has begun its preseason for the 2013 MLS campaign at YSC Sports in Wayne. The Union will hold an open training session on Monday, Jan. 21 at YSC that is open to the public.