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Four Billikens selected: Record draft ‘4’ SLU

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Three players bound for MLS, Kristo looks to Italy

On Nov. 28, 1959, a small, Midwestern, Jesuit school won the inaugural NCAA men’s soccer national championship. Over the next two decades, Saint Louis University would dominate the field of college soccer, with 10 national titles (the most in NCAA history) in 15 years. The country’s first college soccer dynasty would eventually produce over a dozen professional players, including national stars such as Tim Ream, Brad Davis and Brian McBride.

And now, in 2015, four more names will be added to the Billiken legacy: Bryce, Manning, Lee, and Kristo.

These four seniors have been selected in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. SLU, alongside North Carolina, had the most players picked in this year’s draft. In fact, this is the largest class of professional players SLU has ever graduated.

The former teammates will now be playing all across the country, and perhaps even the world. Midfielder Kingsley Bryce, the first to be chosen, went to the Chicago Fire as the seventh pick of the second round, 28th overall.

“Kingsley plays in a position that we wanted to fill,” Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop said. “He’s also a versatile player, can play wide right, and is a powerful player who had four good years at Saint Louis.”

Bryce was the Billikens’ second leading scorer in 2014, with six goals and four assists. The Texas native posted 58 points (23 goals, 12 assists) in his four years at SLU. He was named second-team All-Conference as a junior and Most Outstanding Player of the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship his sophomore year.

“It’s exciting for me and everyone associated with the SLU soccer family to see Kingsley get drafted,” SLU Head Coach Mike McGinty said. “I’m proud of him and can’t wait to see him play as a professional.”

Another Texas native, Anthony Manning will head to Oregon to join the Portland Timbers’ defense, as the 10th pick of the third round. Manning was named the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year twice, his junior and senior years. With 70 career starts, Manning was integral to the Billiken’s back row; he led the team to a league-high 11 shutouts this season.

Raymond Lee will take the field on the opposite side of the country, with the Philadelphia Union. Lee was selected in the fourth round, as the ninth pick. The midfielder from Kansas City was a second-team All-Conference pick this season. He finished fifth on the team in scoring with eight points, consisting of two goals and four assists. One notable such assist took place against Creighton, when a cross to Kristo resulted in a game-winning golden goal.

Finally, two-time Hermann Trophy semifinalist Robert Kristo was drafted by the Columbus Crew as the 13th pick of the third round; however, the Bosnian-born striker is reportedly weighing his options in Europe, possibly in Italy’s Serie B league. With 97 career points (41 goals, 15 assists), Robert Kristo was ranked second among active scorers in NCAA Division 1 soccer. His senior year, he led the team in scoring for the fourth consecutive season with 14 goals and 2 assists, including six game-winning goals. He was selected as the 2014 Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year for his success and named as a first-team All-American, his third career All-American recognition. Kristo is expected to announce his decision regarding his professional future soon.

Regardless of the outcome, all four players have a successful career to look back upon.    The four men have contributed a combined total of  83 goals and 201 points, which is goals plus assists. Saint Louis University is still the winningest NCAA Division I men’s soccer program to date.

 

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Four Billikens selected: Record draft ‘4’ SLU