The UCSB men’s soccer team will be without two of its top three scorers in 2008 as junior Eric Avila and sophomore Ciaran O’Brien have signed professional contracts with Generation adidas, Major League Soccer’s youth development program.

By signing with Generation adidas, Avila and O’Brien, both midfielders, are expected to be drafted by an MLS side in the first or second round of the Jan. 18 SuperDraft. Seven of the first 13 players chosen in the 2007 SuperDraft had signed Generation adidas contracts and a total of six first-rounders in 2006 were alums of the program.

A preseason All-American and Hermann Trophy Candidate in 2007, Avila scored four goals and dished out eight assists for a Gauchos squad that finished the season with a No. 8 national ranking. A three-time All-Big West first-team selection, Avila leaves UCSB with career totals of 15 goals and 18 assists. He helped UCSB win the program’s first NCAA national championship in 2006, scoring the game-winner against UCLA in the final match.

O’Brien made an immediate impact in his first season at UCSB after transferring from the University of San Diego. He was named the Big West Conference Midfielder of the Year after leading the league with 25 points on seven goals and 11 assists. Two of his assists came in UCSB’s 4-3 loss at Ohio State in the third round of the NCAA tournament last month. O’Brien went on to earn College Soccer News Third Team All-American honors.

Ryan Hall is UCSB‘s assistant media relations director.