First Overall Pick and NPSL Alum Ben Bender
January 12, 2022
Ben Bender is headed to Charlotte FC after being selected with the first overall pick in Tuesday’s MLS SuperDraft.
Bender was the 2021 TopDrawerSoccer.com NPSL Young Player of the Season. The Baltimore, MD native registered six goals and five assists for FC Baltimore Christos in the 2021 NPSL regular season. This summer he led the club to a conference championship and an appearance in the national semifinals. He also earned NPSL Team of the Month honors.
Bender was an All-Big Ten selection in each of his first two seasons at the University of Maryland. He was the unanimous Big Ten Midfielder of the Year selection in 2021 after scoring seven goals and notching five assists in 18 games. He also garnered first-team All-American honors from the United Soccer Coaches following that campaign. As a freshman, Bender started all 11 games for the Terrapins, scoring two goals. Bender was a standout at Calvert Hall College High School in Towson, Md., where he was named a 2019 Allstate All-American and was a two-time All-MIAA selection.
OSA FC had two of their players selected in this year’s draft. Both Ryan Sailor and Lucas Meek hail from the University of Washington, and both were drafted by Inter Miami CF. Sailor was selected ninth overall, while Meek was the 37th overall pick.
Sailor made 49 career appearances (41 starts) for the Huskies, scoring 10 goals and three assists from 2017-2021. He earned a plethora of awards, including Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All-America, All-Pac-12 First Team, All-Pac-12 Second Team, TopDrawerSoccer National Team of the Week, and College Soccer News National Team of the Week honors.
Meek was an award-winning midfielder who earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All-America, All-Pac-12 First Team, TopDrawerSoccer National Team of the Week, College Soccer News National Team of the Week, CoSIDA Academic All-District, and Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll honors. The Mercer Island, WA native made 48 career appearances (33 starts) and tallied 16 goals and 13 assists from 2018-2021.
Farai Mutatu, a forward from Michigan State, was selected 21st overall by the LA Galaxy. He made 50 career appearances for the Spartans and earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors. He played for Lansing United in the 2017 NPSL season.
Charles Ostrem, another standout from the University of Washington, was selected 33rd overall by Chicago Fire FC. He is a product of Crossfire Premier, one of the country’s top youth clubs. Crossfire has produced top professional players like DeAndre Yedlin and Kelyn Rowe. The Richmond Beach, WA native played at UW from 2018-2021 and finished his collegiate career with 75 appearances (61 starts) and 22 assists, ranking ninth all-time for the Huskies.
“Charlie is a phenomenal success story when you talk about the entire development pathway,” Crossfire Premier Director of Development Troy Letherman said. “He joined Crossfire Premier when he was 14 and became a key member of our Academy squads, eventually playing in back-to-back DA National Quarterfinals while becoming one of the best left backs in the country. He obviously went on to great success at the University of Washington here in Seattle, really blossoming as an attack-minded fullback, becoming an All-Pac-12 and All-American selection, as well as the 2020 Pac-12 Defender of the Year. He’s been an instrumental figure in our Crossfire Redmond NPSL teams each year as well, continuing to play with the players he grew up with at XF and challenging himself against some of the best young players in the Northwest. As with every hurdle he’s faced in his young career, we are supremely confident Charlie will go on to earn a place in MLS.”
Alex Nagy, a standout forward for NPSL side Valeo FC, was selected 41st overall by D.C. United. The Bow, NH native registered nine goals and six assists during the 2021 NPSL season.
“Alex has been with me since thirteen years old playing USDA and last summer at the NPSL level,” Valeo FC Director of Soccer Operations and Technical Director Corlton Simmond said.
“He’s a very skilled player that approaches each with passion and humility. He still has so much more to offer the beautiful game of soccer and will strive with any club he ends up with at the professional level.”
Nagy scored eight goals and recorded 16 assists in 58 appearances (35 starts) for the University of Vermont from 2018-2021. In 2021, he scored five goals and recorded 10 assists in 20 appearances on the way to being named to the America East All-Conference First Team and United Soccer Coaches All-Northeast First Team.
Nathan Dossantos, a center back from the Pittsburgh Hotspurs, was selected 46th overall by Orlando City SC. He scored one goal in the Hotspurs’ successful run in the NPSL Members Cup.
The Oakville, Ontario, Canada native was part of Marshall’s 2020 College Cup National Championship squad. He collected over 15 awards in two collegiate seasons with the Thundering Herd, making 35 starts in 36 appearances.
“Although he was only with us for a short time, Nate demonstrated his quality immediately,” Hotspurs head coach Tom Campbell said. “He also played a big role in helping some of the younger players develop their game too. We thoroughly enjoyed having him with us and wish him the best of luck in this next step.”
Justin Ingram, a midfielder from FC Indiana and Loyola University Maryland, was selected 48th overall by Inter Miami. The Indianapolis, IN native collected Patriot League Midfielder of the Year, United Soccer Coaches First Team All-Atlantic Region, All-Patriot League First Team, All-Patriot League Second Team, Preseason All-Patriot League Team, Patriot League Midfielder of the Week, and Patriot League All-Tournament Team honors from 2019-2021. He spent two seasons at the University of Virginia and was a member of the U.S. U-15 and U-19 National Teams.
Giovanni Aguilar, a standout for FC Golden State, went to Vancouver Whitecaps FC with the 49th overall pick. He was named to the Big West All-Conference First Team after recording three goals and a team-leading three assists in 17 starts for California State University Northridge in 2021. Aguilar received Honorable Mention All-Conference honors in 2017 and 2018, and was named to the Big West Conference All-Freshman Team in 2017.
FC Golden State had another player selected with Pedro Fonseca going to Real Salt Lake with the 53rd overall pick. Fonseca played for the University of Louisville where he tallied 15 goals and 16 assists in 48 appearances. He had eight goals and eight assists during his senior season for which he was named to the 2021 All-ACC First Team. The Rio de Janeiro, Brazil native made three appearances in the NCAA Tournament and a berth to the Round of 16 during his sophomore year.
Inter Miam CF selected yet another NPSL alum, Tyler Bagley, with the 54th overall pick. The Rochester Lancers forward had a decorated career at Cornell University that included Ivy League Player of the Week, United Soccer Coaches Player of the Week, Top Drawer Soccer Player of the Week, and Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week honors.
“He is a good, young, hard-working player, and I was proud to coach him,” Rochester Lancers head coach Doug Miller stated.
The San Clemente, CA native made 49 career appearances (32 starts), tallying three goals and nine assists.
Austin FC selected FC Motown midfielder Michael Knapp with the 61st overall pick. Knapp played two seasons at Montclair State University, where he appeared in 35 matches and tallied three goals and seven assists. He signed with New York Red Bulls II in April 2021.
“We are thrilled that Michael was drafted by Austin FC,” FC Motown head coach Sacir Hot said. “He was an incredible talent at Montclair State and was instrumental in our Keystone Conference title scoring a big goal to beat West Chester United in a pivotal knockout game. We wish him nothing but the best of luck on his professional journey.”
Hal Uderitz, who hails from Crossfire Redmond and Seattle University, was selected by Seattle Sounders FC with the 72nd overall pick. Uderitz was the only Redhawk to start all 11 matches in a shortened 2021 season, scoring one goal. In 2019 he started 21 matches and added three goals and three assists, scoring both in the WAC Tournament Championship and the NCAA Tournament. He was named to the All-Region Team in 2021.
“Hal is another player who’s been with us since he was a teenager, anchoring our academy teams as they won the Northwest Conference of the U-19 Development Academy three years in a row, reaching two consecutive National Quarterfinals,” Letherman said. “In our two seasons in the NPSL, Hal and his teammates have won the conference on both occasions and it’s been fun to watch him grow as a player in our program. A tough-tackling defensive midfielder, Hal dominates the middle of the pitch while offering fantastic range of distribution. One of the most disciplined and hardest workers to come through XF, we’re excited to see what Hal does in this next stage of his career.”
Nick Taylor, who played as a forward for the Denton Diablos and University of Central Florida, was selected by Orlando City SC with the 74th overall pick.
In one season with UCF, Taylor started all 16 matches he played, tallying three goals and nine assists. Taylor spent two seasons at Southern Methodist University, appearing 30 times, scoring two goals and tallying three assists following a freshman and sophomore season at New Mexico University. With the Lobos, Taylor appeared 29 times, scoring six goals and recording six assists, earning All-CUSA honors as a sophomore.
Overall 14 NPSL alumni were selected in MLS SuperDraft 2022. Crossfire Redmond, FC Golden State, and OSA FC all had multiple players drafted.
Photo Credit: Erie Commodores FC, MLSsoccer.com, Chris Fincham, MEL and Maddy from NW Sports Photography, Hugh Slee Photography