EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ Former Michigan State menâ€™s soccer defender Kevin Cope was selected 25th in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft to the Philadelphia Union on Thursday. He is the eighth player in MSU history to be drafted into the MLS and the second-highest overall pick.
â€œWhen my name was called I was very excited,â€ said Cope. â€œPhiladelphia is pretty thin at center back, so itâ€™s a good fit for me. Iâ€™m going to do everything in my power to take advantage of this opportunity and make sure Iâ€™m physically and mentally ready. Iâ€™m very excited to be able to represent Michigan State. Theyâ€™ve done so much for me and made me into the player I am. Itâ€™s definitely a direct reflection of the program and the coaching staff. I think it shows the direction the program is going. Hopefully that (draft) number doubles in the next couple years, which it definitely has the potential to. Hopefully I can go earn a contract and be another Spartan that is in the league. Itâ€™s something Iâ€™ve always wanted to do and I am very thrilled to get the opportunity to do it.â€
Despite missing five games due to injury, the three-time captain was a Spartan standout on and off the pitch throughout the 2013 season. Recording one career goal prior to 2013, Cope scored two goals and recorded two assists for MSU this season. He was also the heart and soul of the stout Spartan defense that helped Michigan State lead the Big Ten in fewest goals allowed with 15 and goals against average (0.64). Cope played in nine of the Spartans’ 13 shutouts this season, tying the most in program history. For his accomplishments, he was named a Third-Team All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of American (NSCAA).
â€œI think the most important thing in the draft is not necessarily what number you are drafted,â€ said head coach Damon Rensing. â€œCertainly Kevin being drafted No. 25 overall is a sign that he is one of the top players, but it is more important who drafts you. I think Philadelphia Union is a great fit for Kevin. I think the organization does a great job. Theyâ€™ve got great coaches and an awesome fan base and I think center back is a position of need for them so I think it will be a great fit. One of the great things about Kevin is that he has always represented Michigan State well not just on the field but off the field. I think Philadelphia will get that type of person. It will be great to have a player and person like Kevin represent the university with class and professionalism. Itâ€™s great for our program and itâ€™s great for our university.
â€œI think itâ€™s a sign that the Michigan State soccer program is able to attract quality players because it provides them with an environment that allows them to fulfill their dreams of playing professional soccer. I think the model of consistency over the last seven or eight years of not just developing players but competing for championships is a great thing for our program.â€
John Minagawa â€“ Webster was Michigan Stateâ€™s first draftee selection in the MLS SuperDraft at No. 47 to the Kansas City Wizards in 2005. Also to the Wizards, Rauwshan McKenzie was selected at No. 53 in 2008, while Doug DeMartin was drafted 22nd in 2009. Also in the SuperDraft, Colin Givens was selected No. 36 to the Colorado Rapids in 2011.
The Spartans have had three additional players selected in the MLS Supplemental Draft including Ryan McMahen (No.16, Kansas City Wizards, 2006), Kevin Reiman (No. 31, Real Salt Lake, 2008) and Spencer Thompson (No. 26, Toronto FC, 2011).