Austin FC selected Virginia Tech midfielder Daniel Pereira as their first choice for the SuperDraft 2021 MLS, a day when the first five selections came from CCA schools.

It was the first pick of the 2021 expansion team in the SuperDraft MLS.

Pereira is believed to be a box-to-box midfielder who, along with Alex Ring, will bring some depth to the midfield. Pereira also signed an MLS contract with Generation Adidas, meaning his salary is not included in Austin’s salary cap.

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The choice came as a surprise, as Clemson midfielder Philip Mayak was number one in most simulations, but Pereira was Austin’s pick.

I didn’t expect to be number one because of the whole production, Pereira said afterward. I’m honored. I’m very happy. My family cries. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

Pereira added that in conversations with Austin staff prior to selection day, he said he hoped to play his favorite role as a central midfielder.

I intend to play my part, he said. I’m number 8. I like to defend, and I like to attack. I hope they see me there.

Originally from Venezuela, Pereira moved to the United States with his parents when he was a teenager.

We decided to go to the United States for a better life. My parents did it for me, and I’m grateful to them every day, he said.

The Austin Football Club selected Daniel Pereira as its first choice for MLS SuperDraft. Courtesy of Major League Soccer

In the second overall selection, Cincinnati FC selected Wake Forest midfielder Calvin Harris, another member of the Adidas generation who was considered the best striker in the draft.

The Colorado Rapids had already acquired the No3 in a swap with Houston Dynamo. Along with Mayaka, the Rapids chose midfielder Clemson, who is another candidate for box-to-box play because of his range and passing ability.

D.C. United provided the next two projections, the 4th and 5th, which it acquired from Atlanta United. The Black and Red has selected Clemson’s Kimarni Smith as its attacker. Originally from Nottingham, England, Smith was the top player in the country in 2020 and can play both outside and center forward. OCP then selected Wake Forest defender Michael DeShields.

Houston picked No. 6, breaking the string of CCA players selected by University of Washington quarterback Ethan Bartlow, who was considered the draft’s top center in some quarters.

Top 10 project workshops (full results can be found here):

1. Austin FC, Daniel Pereira, M.F., Virginia Tech.

2. FC Cincinnati, Calvin Harris, FS, Wake Forest.

3. Colorado Rapids, Philip Beacon, M.F., Clemson.

4. Washington United, Kimarney Smith, FW, Clemson.

5. Washington United, Michael DeShields, DF, Wake Forest.

6. FC Houston Dynamo, Ethan Bartlow, Washington.

7. Real Salt Lake, Bret Halsey, DF, Virginia.

8. Orlando City SC, Derek Dodson, FW, Georgetown…

9. Vancouver Whitecaps, David Egbo, FW, Akron…

10. Inter Miami CF, Josh Penn, FW, Indy Eleven/India

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