College trio sign with MLS

Major League Soccer today announced the signings of three collegiate seniors and four underclassmen to Major League Soccer contracts, including two of the three finalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy: Andre Akpan (Harvard University) and Teal Bunbury (Akron University). MLS teams and adidas identified these players as some of the most promising young soccer players in the country, and they have signed contracts making them available for selection in the upcoming 2010 MLS SuperDraft.

The two heralded seniors who, along with Akpan, have signed with MLS prior to the draft are Zach Loyd (UNC-Chapel Hill) and Toni Stahl (University of Connecticut). Joining Bunbury as the other highly touted underclassmen signing via Generation adidas are Dilly Duka (Rutgers University), Blair Gavin (Akron University) and Jack McInerney (US U-17/Cobb Soccer Club). The full 2010 Generation adidas class will be completed in the coming weeks with an announcement expected in early January.

Akpan and Bunbury are two of the finalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy, college soccer’s version of the Heisman Trophy, while Corben Bone (Wake Forest University) is the third finalist for the award. Akpan finished his collegiate career at Harvard University as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 127 points (47 goals, 33 assists), was the 2009 Ivy League Player of the Year and a three-time finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy.

Bunbury, a sophomore forward from Prior Lake, Minn., was the 2009 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year. He led the nation in goals with 17, and added five assists to lead the Zips with 39 points this season. Bunbury led Akron to the 2009 NCAA College Cup final where they fell to the University of Virginia in a penalty kick shootout. Bunbury follows in the footsteps of Steve Zakuani, who signed a Generation adidas contract, and was selected No. 1 overall out of Akron by Sounders FC in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. Zakuani was a finalist for the 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year.

Each of the four Generation adidas signings announced today has experience with their respective youth national teams. Duka, Gavin and McInerney have competed with U.S. youth national teams, while Bunbury has competed with the Canadian youth national team. McInerney recently competed with the U-17s at the FIFA Youth World Cup in the United Arab Emirates where he scored two goals in helping lead the U.S. to the round of 16.

The 2009 Generation adidas class produced seven of the 15 selections in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, including Zakuani, the top selection by Sounders FC. Rookie of the Year winner Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy, No. 3) and Rookie of the Year finalist Stefan Frei (Toronto FC, No. 13) were among Generation adidas members selected in the first round.

The 2010 MLS SuperDraft takes place on Thursday, Jan. 14 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia at 2 p.m. ET. The first hour will be broadcast live on ESPN2; the remainder of the draft can be followed on MLSnet.com.

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 16 professional clubs, Generation adidas players receive educational grants to further their college education. Each year a Generation adidas squad travels abroad to compete against club teams from around the world, which in the past two years have included trips to Spain and South Africa. Generation adidas players do not count against an MLS team’s salary budget.

All seven signings are scheduled to participate in the adidas MLS Player Combine Jan. 8-12 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The Combine gives MLS coaches and general managers a final chance to evaluate talent in preparation for the SuperDraft. The complete game schedules for the adidas MLS Player Combine is below. Complete rosters and team designations will be announced in the coming weeks.

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.

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