Four Louisville seniors were selected the 2012 MLS Super Draft. Louisville was the only school with three players drafted in the first round and the only school with four draft picks. Midfielder Nick DeLeon was the seventh pick by DC United in the first round. Defender Austin Berry was the ninth pick by the Chicago Fire. Forward Colin Rolfe was the 18th pick by the Houston Dynamo to round out the first round picks. Midfielder Kenney Walker was the 38th pick by the MLS Cup reigning champion LA Galaxy. The draft marks the first time in school history that four players were selected.
"I am excited for all four guys as today was a realization of their dreams," said head coach Ken Lolla. "We are very grateful for the opportunity to help them grow and develop in achieving this goal. We look forward to following their continued success as they will represent the University of Louisville well."
DeLeon, a two year starter for the Cards, earned All-Great Lakes Region honors for the second straight year. He has started in every game since joining Louisville in 2010. This season he ranked second on the team in scoring with six goals and six assists for 18 points. He was named a first team All-BIG EAST selection for the second straight year. He was also the only Cardinal selected to BIG EAST All-Tournament team. He led the team this season with 76 shots on the year. He finished the year with two game-winners, including the game-winner in overtime against Bradley in the NCAA Tournament. DeLeon finished his two year career at Louisville with 14 goals and nine assists for 37 points.
"We didn't think we would be able to get Nick with the seventh pick in today's Draft," said United Head Coach Ben Olsen. "We're extremely excited about Nick – he's pro-ready, and we saw throughout his season this year that he's one of the guys that is ready to play professional soccer. Physically, he has all the tools and we're going to challenge him with a tough preseason coming up. I think this kid is going to be a gamer, and I know he's excited to join the guys and get moving."
"This is what I've dreamed of my whole life, and now that the opportunity is here, I'm ready," said DeLeon. "I'm honored to be selected by the club, and while I'm a little nervous, I'm ready for the next step. I'm very excited to be a part of this team, and I'm going to give everything I have to the club and the city. I'll do whatever I can to make sure that we have a good season."
Berry earned NSCAA All-American honors and All-Great Lakes Region honors for the second consecutive season. He helped anchor the Cardinal defense to 11 shutouts this season and 37 shutouts in his career at Louisville. He finished his senior year with a goal and an assist for four points. He was also named a first team All-BIG EAST selection the last two seasons. He finished his career with 11 goals and five assists for 27 points.
"Austin is a menacing defender who will be a fantastic addition to the Chicago Fire Soccer Club," said Chicago Fire coach Frank Klopas. "His strength in the back, ability in the air and the danger he provides going forward will be a great asset to us."
"It's really exciting, it's something I've been envisioning and working on my entire life," said Berry. "I love the city and the organization and can't be excited enough."
Rolfe earned first team All-Great Lakes Region honors for the third consecutive season. He led the Cardinals in scoring for the third straight season with 28 points. He also led the team in assists and goals his final season with a career best 10 assists and nine goals. The senior forward recorded his first career hat trick with three goals against Providence in the BIG EAST Tournament. He earned national player of the week honors from all three publications. He was the only player in the nation to dish out three assists in two games (Butler and Maryland) this season. Rolfe finishes his career ranked third in career points and goals second in career assists. He was a Hermann Trophy Finalist his junior year and is two-time first team NSCAA All-American.
"Colin Rolfe was a player we liked heading into the draft," said Houston coach Dominic Kinnear. "He also fills what we considered a position of need."
"This is very exciting because I have worked towards this goal the last 21 years of my life," said Rolfe. "But it doesn't just stop here because I have a lot more I can learn about the game of soccer and life in general. This is just a new beginning for me. I would like to thank Ken and Mario specifically because they have been great role models for me. They helped to make it clear to me the steps that I needed to take to achieve this goal and helped me along the way. I would also like to thank my parents for always being there and supporting me. They were always at my games and I can't thank them enough. My family has always supported me and I appreciate it. Finally I would like to thank all my teammates; I am definitely going to miss them. If it weren't for them none of this would be possible."
Walker, made a big impact in the Cards' midfield the last four seasons, finished the year ranked third on the team in scoring with 16 points. He also ranks third on the team in goals with five. This season he scored three game-winner goals against Ohio State, Indiana, and Cincinnati. This season he earned second team All-BIG EAST honors. Walker finished his Louisville career with 19 assists, ranking him fourth on the all-time list.
"I thought that he had a very good Combine," Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said. "He is a defensive midfielder, a holding midfielder, an aggressive type of player and a good passer of the ball. I felt over the three days of the combine he may have been a first round pick so when he was available in the second round we jumped on it and we're hopeful that he will turn into a good player."
"Getting drafted today makes me feel accomplished but I know I have a lot of work ahead of me," said Walker. "I will have to fight for a spot on the roster but I am very excited to be drafted by the Galaxy. I would like to thank the Louisville coaching staff and all the players I have had the privilege to play alongside. I would also like to thank my family and friends that have supported me along the way, especially my parents for getting me to where I am today."
Former Louisville MLS Draft Picks
J.T. Murray 32nd Pick Sporting Kansas City – 2nd Round 2012 MLS Super Draft
Charlie Campbell 35th Pick FC Dallas – 2nd Round 2012 MLS Super Draft
Adrian Cann 16th Pick Colorado Rapids – 1st Round 2004 MLS Super Draft
Former Cardinals currently in the MLS
Adrian Cann – Toronto FC (2009-present)
Freddie Braun – Portland Timbers (2010-present)
Official release from U of L sports information