Jan. 11, 2008
(New York) - USF standout Rob Valentino was selected to the 2008 class of Generation adidas as announced today by Major League Soccer and adidas. This elite group of nine players will all enter the professional ranks for the 2008 Major MLS season. These players signed MLS contracts before completing their NCAA eligibility and can be selected in the upcoming 2008 MLS SuperDraft.
Valentino, the 2006 West Coast Conference Player of the Year was named to the Hermann Trophy Award Watch list entering the 2007 campaign, before suffering a season-ending injury. Valentino spearheaded the Dons run to back-to-back WCC Championships (2004-05) and catapulted USF Soccer to three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths.
A three-time All-WCC First Team selection and an Honorable Mention All-American, Valentino competed on the U-23 USA National Team in its 2007 trip to Japan and was the only collegiate player to start.
Last season's class of eight Generation adidas players produced seven of the 13 first round selections in the SuperDraft, including the top three of the top five selections - Maurice Edu (Toronto FC, 1st overall), Bakary Soumare (Chicago Fire, 2nd overall) and Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake, 4th overall).
The 2008 MLS SuperDraft takes place at the Baltimore Convention Center (400 Level Ballroom) on Friday, Jan. 18 (ESPN2/MLSnet.com) at 2 p.m. ET. Up-to-date draft information including the current draft order and draft previews can be found by logging onto the SuperDraft homepage at MLSNet.com.
Highlighting this year's class are seven players that have experience with the U.S. Youth National Teams and a finalist for this year's MAC Hermann Trophy, college soccer's version of the Heisman Trophy. Six of the nine players are leaving college early to enter the MLS SuperDraft - Eric Avila (UC Santa Barbara), Tony Beltran (UCLA), Chance Myers (UCLA), Patrick Nyarko (Virginia Tech), Ciaran O'Brien (UC Santa Barbara) and Rob Valentino (Univ. of San Francisco). Three players - Josh Lambo (Chicago Magic FC), Alex Nimo (FC Portland) and Brek Shea (Texans FC) - are high school students who are foregoing their college eligibility to sign professional contracts.
The players who join MLS as part of the Generation adidas program receive unprecedented opportunities to develop their game and hone their skills at the professional level in Major League Soccer. In addition to training and playing with one of Major League Soccer's 14 professional clubs, Generation adidas players receive educational grants to further their college education. Additional Generation adidas player signings may occur prior to the 2008 MLS Season.
The class of nine Generation adidas players range in age from 17 to 22 years old, and they represent a broad area of the country. Five players are from the West Coast of the United States (California, Oregon and Washington), one from the Midwest (Wisconsin), the southwest (Arizona), the south (Texas) and one player that comes from the African nation of Ghana. Eight of the nine Generation adidas players will compete at the adidas MLS Player Combine.
Generation adidas, which was established ahead of the 2005 MLS season, is a player development program that identifies and nurtures the elite youth soccer talent in the United States. Last year, Generation adidas midfielder Edu was the No. 1 overall selection for Toronto FC and went to capture Gatorade Rookie of the Year honors and earned his first U.S. Men's National Team cap in 2007. The Generation adidas program has identified some of the League's top talent such as Chivas USA and U.S. Men's National Team midfielder Sacha Kljestan, New England and U.S. Men's National Team defender Michael Parkhurst and New York Red Bulls forward Jozy Altidore.