KANSAS CITY – Andrew Duran was in Seattle for one beautiful week in May of 2011.
He trained with the Sounders FC and caught a game at CenturyLink Field.
In that match, Jeff Parke sent in a stoppage-time header to top Sporting Kansas City and whipped the 36,098 already crazed fans in attendance into a frenzy.
That afternoon of magic had him convinced that he wanted to be a Sounder and on Thursday, Seattle made that a reality by selecting him in the first round, 15th overall, in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
“It was unreal. Hearing the crowd – it sent shivers up my spine to see that this can happen in the US,” Duran. “I’m fortunate that I can be a part of it.”
A 6-foot-1 center back from Creighton University, Duran joins a core of Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni to anchor Seattle’s central defense in 2012. He will come into camp an open book, looking to learn what he can from his veteran teammates.
Duran fits into the club’s plans to play more from the back with defenders who can distribute and play with the ball at their feet. As a former midfielder who converted to defense in college, it’s almost as though he were tailor made for that style of play.
“He’s very composed on the ball. He has good feet. His maturity is beyond his years,” Sounders FC technical director Chris Henderson said. “He’s a guy that we think can come in and contribute and fight for a spot every day.”
Since he came to Seattle to train with the Sounders briefly, a practice commonly used by college players as they enter their final college seasons, he was able to get a good view of what to expect from the MLS level. The club also got an opportunity to get a better gauge for Duran and how he plays.
“One of the things you have a chance to do is get a feel for their personality and how they’re going to fit in with your team,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “The other thing that stood out was that even as he stepped up into our environment, he was still very calm in the way he played.”
That perspective was important because he had a run of injuries that limited his time on the field at Creighton. He suffered knee injuries in 2008 and 2010 and had his 2007 season cut short because of mono. However, he put those woes in his rearview mirror. In 2011, he started 24 matches and was a second-team All-American and was the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year on a Creighton team that was among the best defensive teams in the country.
In the second round, the Sounders selected forward Babayele Sodade, a 6-foot-3 forward from University of Alabama-Birmingham. He was a three-year starter for the Blazers and improved his production in each season, scoring seven goals in 18 games as a sophomore, nine goals in 18 games as a junior and 13 goals in 21 games as a senior.
He grew up in Nigeria before moving to Canada at 15 and was invited to the Canadian National Team’s Olympic camp in 2010. He gives the Sounders depth at the forward position.
“With us losing Nate Jaqua and with O’Brian White still coming back from injury, we felt it was good to look at a little bit of depth in that position,” Schmid said. “He showed well at the combine. He’s had a good career at UAB and he’s the kind of player who could be a surprise guy like C.J. Sapong was last year.”
Duran and Sodade will join the Sounders as training camp opens next week. On Tuesday, Seattle will have the chance to add four more players to the roster in the Supplemental Draft. They open veteran training camp on Thursday, January 19 at Starfire.