(January 17, 2013) - Sporting Kansas City selected 19-year-old midfielder Mikey Lopez out of the University of North Carolina with the 14thoverall selection in the first round of Thursday's 2013 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas in Indianapolis, Ind.
"He fits our ideal situation at the moment," Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes said. "We have time that we can bring him along, which is a great thing. I think he has a place where he can grow and develop. We're excited about the pick."
A Generation adidas signing, Lopez has been added to Sporting Kansas City's roster and will occupy an off-budget roster spot. Generation adidas is a joint program between MLS and adidas that identifies top domestic underclassmen and youth national team players, while providing educational stipends for its professional players.
"It's a great team. I'm glad to be going to Sporting Kansas City," Lopez said. "I feel like I can do well with this team and fit in, and hopefully break into the lineup quickly. So I'm glad that I got chosen by them and that they feel the same way about me. It's a match made in heaven."
Lopez is an active member of the United States Under-20 Men's National Team and will join Sporting KC teammate Jon Kempin with the U.S. U-20 squad in Puebla, Mexico tonight for their training camp. Among the 20 players selected by head coach Tab Ramos for the camp, Lopez leads the roster with 17 caps at the U-20 level. He has appeared in international competitions including the 2012 Northern Ireland Milk Cup in July and the 2012 Marbella Cup in Spain in October.
In his two-year collegiate career at North Carolina, Lopez appeared in 46 games with five goals and five assists. He was named ACC Freshman of the Year in 2011 after helping the Tar Heels secure their second-ever NCAA national championship, and was named an NSCAA All-American this season.
MLSSoccer.com rated Lopez the top holding midfielder in this year's draft class in the midst of a strong showing at the MLS Combine last week. Lopez becomes the third North Carolina player drafted by Sporting KC in club history, along with current assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin and former defender Michael Harrington.
Following Thursday's SuperDraft, Sporting Kansas City will next participate in the four-round 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft via conference call on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
Sporting Kansas City will hold their first training session of the 2013 season on Friday at the Kansas City Chiefs Indoor Practice Facility, located west of Arrowhead Stadium at the Truman Sports Complex. All media are encouraged to attend for video, interview and photo opportunities and will be allowed to enter the facility at 10:45 a.m. CT. Media members are asked to please park in the extended portion of the player lot on the west side of the practice facility and enter through the doors on the side of the practice field.
Mikey Lopez - 14th Overall (1st Round)
College: University of North Carolina
Hometown: Mission, Texas
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas
-- Sporting Kansas City Quote Sheet --
2013 MLS SuperDraft
Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes
On the approach to today's pick...
For one, he's Generation adidas. Being as young as he is at 19, we have time that we can bring him along, which is a great thing. It's not like we're forced to try to make it all happen right away.Being that he's Generation adidas, it doesn't hit our books right away so that is always attractive. He fits our ideal situation at the moment.
On the youthfulness of Lopez...
He's a lot more mature than 19 years old. What's great when you see with guys like this, is that when they come out, especially a guy like, he really wants to do this. This is his passion. It fits into the way that we play. Because I think our team is very passionate on the field and we have a lot of guys that love the game. So he kind of fits into that world.
On how he fits into the system at Sporting KC...
He plays anywhere in the middle of midfield, box-to-box. He's got leather lungs. So from that perspective, he's going to be a good fit for us for sure. Being the fact that he's as young as he is, I think it's going to be a good place. I think the culture is set where we are, so I think from that perspective he's going to have a lot of guys he can learn under. And at the same time, I think he has a place where he can grow and develop.
On the opportunity to select Lopez at No. 14...
We were looking at a myriad of things that we wanted to do. But at the end, interesting how a guy like him falls to where we are. It was actually very fortunate. So we're excited about the pick.
First Round SuperDraft Selection Mikey Lopez
On becoming a professional player...
I'm very excited. It's a blessing for me that I get to play with the team I really wanted to play for. I thanked them for choosing me and for believing in me that I can improve the team and help them better the team this season.
On competing with the talent at Sporting Kansas City...
It's a good thing. There's a lot of experience there. It's a great team. It can only help me. It can only benefit me. Hopefully I can come in and break into the lineup as soon as possible and help them become a better team this upcoming season.
On where he thought he would land...
I had heard from my agent that they liked how I played. I didn't get much feedback from any team. And I think they didn't think I was going to be available this late in the first round. And honestly, I don't care about how late it is, I'm just glad that I'm with a good team and a team I want to be with.
On what he knows about his new club...
It's a great team. I'm glad to be going to Sporting Kansas City. I feel like I can do well with this team and fit in, and hopefully break into the lineup quickly. So I'm glad that I got chosen by them and that they feel the same way about me. It's a match made in heaven.