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RSL Selects 16-Year Old Nik Besagno with #1 Overall Pick in 2005 MLS SuperDraft

January 14, 2005 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Real Salt Lake News Release

SALT LAKE CITY (Thursday, January 14, 2005) – Real Salt Lake, Major League Soccer’s 12th team, today selected 16-year old midfielder Nikolas Besagno (pronounced buh – SAW – no) as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 Major League Soccer SuperDraft in Baltimore, Maryland. Besagno, a 6-foot, 175-lb. defensive midfielder for the U.S. U-20 and U-17 National Teams, becomes the second-youngest draftee in MLS history, following 14-year old Freddy Adu (last year’s No. 1 pick selected by D.C. United). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Official Statistician of Major League Soccer, Besagno becomes the eighth player in League history drafted at age 16 or younger, with Adu the youngest ever. The list:

Yrs.Days Player, Team Birthdate Draft Date

14.228 Freddy Adu, D.C. United 6/02/1989 1/16/2004

16.060 Nikolas Besagno, Real Salt Lake 11/15/1988 1/14/2005

16.084 Eddie Gaven, MetroStars 10/25/1986 1/17/2003

16.114 Santino Quaranta, D.C. United 10/14/1984 2/05/2001

16.169 Michael Bradley, MetroStars 7/31/1987 1/16/2004

16.218 Craig Capano, Chicago Fire 7/07/1985 2/10/2002

16.255 Bobby Convey, D.C. United 5/27/1983 2/06/2000

16.311 Eddie Johnson, Dallas Burn 3/31/1984 2/05/2001

“It’s amazing. It’s awesome. It’s something that every American player dreams about, going into Major League Soccer, and it’s something that it is now happening to me,” said Besagno. “I’m really excited to play for John Ellinger and Real Salt Lake. Playing with Clint Mathis and Jason Kreis and Andy Williams and all the rest of the guys will be awesome. Playing for the U.S. National Team under Ellinger was great and I can’t wait to be reunited with him.”

A native of Maple Valley, Washington, Besagno made a name for himself on the U.S National Under-20 and Under-17 programs. Invited by Ellinger into the U.S. Soccer Under-17 Residency in April of 2004, the 15-year old Besagno started 10 of 11 international matches he played at the U-17 level, scoring one goal and adding two assists in 20 appearances for the U-17s. In November 2004, Besagno was invited to the Under-20 camp and played 89 minutes, helping the U.S. to a 2-1 victory over Mexico just six days after celebrating his 16th birthday.

“After watching Nik perform during the last 8 months at the U.S. Under-17 Residency Program, I saw on a daily basis that he is a great young talent,” said RSL Head Coach John Ellinger. “As an organization we feel confident that he possesses the ability to be a star in this league. Nik fills a dual purpose for us at Real Salt Lake, as we build for the future and fill a need at the holding midfielder position.”

On Saturday, Real Salt Lake will introduce Besagno locally at 11:30 a.m. MT. Besagno will be joined by Real Salt Lake players and executives at the grand opening of Zions Bank’ newest “Su Banco,” located at 1635 S. Redwood Road in West Valley City. At the event, fans will have the opportunity to meet the No.1 pick as well as RSL goalkeeper D.J. Countess and other Real players. There will also be an opportunity to purchase Real Salt Lake merchandise and ticket packages for the 2005 RSL season, which kicks off Saturday, April 2 in New York against the MetroStars.

Preparations continue for the inaugural season of Real Salt Lake, kicking off in April, 2005. The complete 2005 regular-season schedule will be released in February. More information on the club can be found on the team’s official website at or by calling 1-866-9-SOCCER.


FORWARD 6-1 175

Born: 11/15/88 in Maple Valley, Washington

Hometown: Maple Valley, Washington

Citizenship: United States

U.S. National Teams

Invited into U.S. Soccer’s Under-17 Residency Program in April of 2004 and quickly became a starter…A defensive midfielder who isn’t afraid to go in on a tough tackle…U.S. Under-20s: Invited to Under-20 camp in November of 2004 in Fort Lauderdale…Started for Under-20s against Mexico at central back and played 89 minutes to help the U.S. pull out a 2-1 victory in the final minute…U.S. Under-17s: Got his first cap with the U-17s after joining Residency against Belgium (1-0 victory) in the Ballymena Tournament in Northern Ireland on April 29, coming in at halftime and making a instant impression…Started the U-17s next three matches of the tournament against Scotland (2-0 victory), Austria (1-1 draw) and Switzerland (0-0 draw, 4-3 PK loss) in the championship match…With his immediate impact during the Ballymena Tournament, Besagno won a starting position for the rest of 2004…Has scored one goal and notched two assists in 20 appearances for the U-17 MNT…Has started 10 of the 11 international matches he has played in.


Parents are John and Barbara…Nickname is Niko…Also enjoys playing tennis…Favorite vacation spot is Italy…Favorite meal is chicken…Names Zinedine Zidane as his favorite player… A.C. Milan is his favorite team…Favorite television show is Family Guy and favorite movie is Anchorman…Names favorite actress as Lindsey Lohan.

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