RENTON, WASH. – The Seattle Sounders FC selected University of Hartford defender Damion Lowe with its top pick (8th overall) and University of Louisville defender Jimmy Ockford with its second selection (21st overall) in Thursday’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft in Philadelphia.
“I thought it was a good draft,” said Sounders FC Sporting Director Chris Henderson. “We wanted to get a little bit younger and a little bit more athletic this offseason. With the players we brought in, we feel good that they’re going to be able to compete.”
Lowe, a 20-year-old Jamaican international, is a Generation adidas product. He was a three-year starter at Hartford, where he started all 44 appearances with eight goals and four assists. He was named to the Second Team All-Northeast region, First Team All-America East and All-America East tournament team as a junior in 2013. Lowe scored a career-high five goals last season and led the Hartford defense to a school record 0.84 goals against average.
“Damion has a great frame. He’s very athletic and dangerous coming forward on set pieces,” said Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid. “He has a good character and a very clear thought process of how to become better. We felt all things considered he was the best pick for us.”
A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Lowe is a former U-20 international and represented his country at the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 championship. He is the son of former Jamaican international Onandi Lowe, who played in the 1998 World Cup and for the Kansas City Wizards from 2000-01.
“It’s an honor to be selected by Seattle,” said Lowe. “It’s a dream come true. Words can’t explain how great I feel right now because I’ve made a lot of people proud. I’m glad for this great opportunity and I’m looking forward to great things in Seattle.”
Ockford, 21, was a 2013 NSCAA All-Midwest First Team selection and was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He spent his first three collegiate seasons at Mount St. Mary’s, where he started 49 matches with five goals and four assists. A native of Yardley, Pennsylvania, Ockford transferred to Louisville for his senior season, scoring four goals in 20 matches.
“Jimmy is a player who in a lot of ways is similar to Zach Scott in that he plays with a lot of heart and energy,” said Henderson. “He is very aggressive, tremendous in the air and has a great vertical leap.”
“It’s unbelievable. I’ve been working towards this my whole life,” said Ockford. “I’ve dedicated my life to soccer and the hard work and dedication I put into it. It’s great that it showed and I got great results from it.”
The Philadelphia Union traded with D.C. United for the top overall pick, making Connecticut’s Andre Blake the first-ever goalkeeper selected with the No. 1 pick. The final two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft will be held via teleconference on Tuesday. Seattle holds the 17th pick in the third round (55th overall) and the 20th pick in the fourth round (77th overall).
Sounders FC preseason training begins on January 25 at Starfire Sports in Tukwila, Wash. Seattle hosts MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City on March 8 in the March to Soccer Opening Match on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.
Sounders FC 2014 MLS SuperDraft Selections
1st Round, 8th Pick, 8th Overall
Birthdate: May 5, 1993
Hometown (Citizenship): Kingston, Jamaica (Jamaica)
College: University of Hartford
High School: Camperdown H.S.
2nd Round, 2nd Pick, 21st Overall
Birthdate: June 10, 1992
Hometown (Citizenship): Yardley, Pennsylvania (USA)
College: University of Louisville
High School: Pennsbury HS