Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pair of Stingrays caught in MLS SuperDraft net

For the second year in a row, two former Rhode Island Stingrays (Premier Development League) were selected – in back-to-back order, no less – in the MLS SuperDraft.

Defender Matthew Britner (Brown University) was drafted in the third round (41st overall) by the New England Revolution. Less than five minutes after the selection, his former Rhode Island teammate, midfielder Geoffrey Cameron (University of Rhode Island) was selected with the final pick in the third round (42nd overall) by 2007 MLS Champion Houston Dynamo.

In their lone campaign together (2006), Britner and Cameron played for a talented ‘Rays squad that included two other MLS prospects: Jeffrey Gonsalves and Ryan McCormick. During that season, Britner played in all 16 of the club’s matches and recorded his lone offensive statistic on an assist. Cameron appeared in all 16 club matches as well, scored four goals, and led the team with 27 shots.

Britner may have a tough hill to climb in finding a starting spot in the rear with the Revolution this season. The club drafted a defender ahead of him (Rob Valentino) and acquired fullback Chris Albright in a draft day trade with Los Angeles. Yet, the former Brown Bear may have a few things working in his favor: his height (6-1) and a stellar recommendation (presumably) from Brown coach Mike Noonan, who is often seen chatting with Revolution manager Steve Nicol during reserve matches.

Cameron is in a similar position with Houston, where the championship club is, unsurprisingly, loaded with talent front to back. Although he can play up front and has an attacking midfielder pedigree, he has a few guys named Dwayne DeRosario, Brian Ching and Joseph Ngwenya ahead of him in the front, while Ricardo Clark, Corey Ashe, and Brad Davis already occupy spots in the midfield.

Last year, two of Mario Pereira’s boys were taken by MLS clubs during SuperDraft. Midfielder Nico Colaluca (Virginia) was taken sixth overall by Colorado, while striker Jeffrey Gonsalves (University of Rhode Island) was taken in the fourth round (40th overall) by Toronto FC. Colaluca went on to see the bulk of his action with the reserve club, though he saw action in four first team matches. Gonsalves, snakebitten by injury throughout the 2007 preseason, was let go by Toronto prior to the regular season, never given the chance to don the red and white kit for the expansion side. In an attempt to catch the attention of nearby scouts, he landed back on his feet with the Stingrays in 2007, where went on to lead the club with ten goals on the season.

The 2008 MLS Supplemental draft will take place via conference call on Thursday, January 24th. Among the hopefuls is another former Stingray – Lukasz Tumicz (University of Rhode Island), who was invited to the MLS Combine in January.

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