Reading United AC Show Importance of Player Development With 2014 MLS SuperDraft Class

By Phil Naegely
Eric Hartline-USA Today Sports

With rounds three and four of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft concluding on Tuesday via conference call, teams made headlines by finding steals and bolstering their depth. However, another storyline has developed between the two days and four rounds of the MLS SuperDraft. USL-PDL side Reading United have had countless players taken in MLS drafts over the years. In 2014, seven former players were drafted.

While Reading United (formerly Reading Rage) has a rich history, 2008 proved to be an important transition year for the club. This success was not taken for granted. Troy Snyder and Art Auchenbach, current vice president and GM respectively, were approached about becoming more involved within the organization. Since then, both Snyder and Auchenbach, along with United’s most successful coach, Brendan Burke, have guided the team to unprecedented success.

At Thursday’s first and second round, three of the five Reading players drafted were present and spoke of how their Reading tenure helped them excel on their collegiate teams, reach MLS, and continue their soccer dreams.

“It was great and an invaluable experience for all the guys,” said Steven Neumann, who was drafted fourth overall by the New England Revolution. “Whether it was the high-caliber players, the great coaching staff or the great management team, Reading provided a professional atmosphere. Spending three summers with them (Reading) definitely prepared me for the college ranks.”

Defender Damion Lowe, who signed a generation Adidas contract with the league, was selected by the Seattle Sounders with the eighth pick. The Jamaican defender echoed Neumann’s thoughts and mentioned how his time with Reading helped him excel at University of Hartford.

While Ben Sweat and Pedro Ribeiro were drafted in back-to-back picks in the 13th and 14th pick respectively, they were not present at the draft, but both found success during their time with Reading. Lastly, defender Jimmy Ockford found himself heading out west and joining Lowe in Seattle. Both should find an opportunity to shine for manager Sigi Schmid and help bring youth to Seattle’s aging back-line.

Reading United’s 2012 squad now has nine players represented on MLS squads, which feature some high-caliber players who have already found success in the pros. Outside of their 2012 class, Reading have proven they are one of the best, if not the most successful USL-PDL teams in preparing players for the transition to the pros. Of the 19 current MLS teams, 13 of them are represented with former Reading players.

All in all, Reading is doing some great things in the USL-PDL. It will be interesting to watch who shines with the club this season — they could become the star the following season and win the Rookie of the Year as Deshorn Brown almost did this past season.

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