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Soccer

Former Dunn School Star Abu Danladi is No. 1 Pick in MLS SuperDraft

He's taken by expansion team Minnesota United

Abu Danladi, a former Dunn School soccer star, was the No. 1 pick in the MLS SuperDraft on Friday in Los Angeles, taken by the expansion club Minnesota United.

Abu Danladi is greeted by MLS Commissioner Don Garber after being taken No. 1 in the MLS SuperDraft by Minnesota United. Danladi attended Dunn School in Los Olivos. Click to view larger
Abu Danladi is greeted by MLS Commissioner Don Garber after being taken No. 1 in the MLS SuperDraft by Minnesota United. Danladi attended Dunn School in Los Olivos. (Stephanie Romero photo)

After leading Dunn to a CIF championship, Danladi went to UCLA and played four seasons. Although injured for most of this past season, he impressed MLS coaches at a combine just before the draft.

Danladi came to Dunn from Ghana as part of the Right to Dream Academy. He played with the Santa Barbara Soccer Club, helping teams win four national championships.

He also was named the Gatorade National Player of Year his senior year at Dunn.

Danladi spoke to the Los Angeles Convention Center crowd and thanked several people who helped him on his journey to become a professional soccer player.

“It’s been a long journey coming from Ghana, and I couldn’t be here without so many people,” he said. “Thank you to Minnesota. I know it was a really hard decision to make. There’s lots of great players here. I’m blessed you guys believe in me.”

VIDEO

Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath told the Minnesota media before the draft that he wanted an immediate contributor, and Danladi could be that player.

“The fact that when you watch him play, there is so much that he can do, and there is still so much more, that’s the exciting part,” Heath said in a statement released after Danladi was announced. “As I’ve said before, it’s got to come from him – he’s got to want it badly enough – but if we can work hard with him, and he wants it as badly as I think he does, this could be a huge player for Minnesota moving forward.”

United Sporting Director Manny Lagos said in a statement, “On the field we know this kid has got incredible potential and could be a superstar in the league, but he exploded in the interview off the field in terms of personality and what he brings to what, I think, is a special community. We’re a diverse community. I think Minnesotans are just going to be incredibly impressed by what type of person we’re drafting.”

Danladi said he isn’t too concerned any health issues will move with him to the pros.

“I’ll take it as the coaches understand that the college season is just three months and about 30 games and it’s just very compressed,” he said after the final Combine matches on Thursday. “I’m the type of player who runs a lot in a game and most of my injuries are very preventable. I feel that being in a professional environment [will help], because the season’s longer and you have more time to recover after games. So I think to me, I think if they make the decision based on that, I think that’s their choice, but I think being in a professional environment, it shouldn’t be a problem for me at all.”

Danladi becomes the third area player from the Right to Dream Academy to join a MLS club.

Josh Yaro and Ema Boateng, teammates at Cate School, play for the Philadelphia Union and L.A. Galaxy, respectively. Yaro was the second overall pick out of Georgetown in last year’s SuperDraft.

“Yesterday it really hit me that on Friday, God willing, I’m going to know where I’m going, probably not going to be living in LA anymore,” Danladi said before the draft.  “It’s going to be crazy, but thinking about it, it’s going to be fun. I came from Ghana to the United States, it was the same type of journey, just another step towards where I want to be in the future. I think it’s great. I feel like I’ve made my mom and my brothers back home proud, my community as well, and I think it’ll be great.”

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