Portland Selects Notre Dame Midfielder Nick Besler with No. 5 overall pick
The Portland Timbers selected midfielder Nick Besler from the University of Notre Dame, defender Andy Thoma from the University of Washington, forward Christian Volesky from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville and forward Kharlton Belmar from Virginia Commonwealth University in the first two rounds of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft today at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
Portland selected Besler with the No. 5 overall pick in the first round, the team’s highest draft pick since taking midfielder/forward Darlington Nagbe with the second overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. Thoma, Volesky and Belmar were selected No. 24, No. 32 and No. 34 overall, respectively, in the second round. The final rounds – three and four – of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft will be held Tuesday, Jan. 20, via conference call.
Besler, 21, appeared in 72 matches (59 starts) for Notre Dame, tallying two goals and five assists while helping the Fighting Irish win the 2013 NCAA National Championship. An All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) first-team pick during the last two seasons (2013, 2014), Besler also was selected as an NSCAA All-American second-team pick as a senior in 2014. The younger brother of Sporting Kansas City and U.S. Men’s National Team defender Matt Besler, the Overland Park, Kan., native served as team captain for Notre Dame during the 2014 season.
Thoma, 21, was an NSCAA All-American third-team selection as a senior in 2014, following a strong season at left back for the University of Washington. The Los Alamos, N.M., native appeared in 80 games (68 starts) over four seasons for the Huskies, tallying seven assists and one goal. An All-Pac-12 Conference second-team selection in 2014, Thoma ranked among University of Washington team leaders with 1,753 minutes played during his senior season.
Volesky, 22, tallied 23 goals and four assists in 48 games over three seasons with SIU-Edwardsville after spending his freshman season at the University of Denver. The Henderson, Nev., native was named the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Player of the Year in 2014 after registering eight goals and four assists to help the Cougars reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007. Named the MVP of the 2015 MLS Player Combine, Volesky was a three-time All-MVC first-team selection (2012, 2013 and 2014) and tallied six goals in 15 games as a freshman with the University of Denver.
Belmar, 22, finished his senior season as co-leading goal scorer at Virginia Commonwealth University, recording four goals in 19 matches. During his four-year career with the Rams, Belmar logged 18 goals and five assists in 76 appearances. A member of the Timbers U-23s Premier Development League (PDL) team in 2014, the Virginia Beach, Va., native finished the PDL season with eight goals and one assist in 14 games, earning a spot on the PDL All-Western Conference list. Belmar also was named the Timbers U-23s Player of the Year as well as garnering All-Atlantic 10 recognition for the second straight season with VCU.
Born: May 7, 1993
Hometown: Overland Park, Kan.
College: University of Notre Dame
Born: April 29, 1993
Hometown: Los Alamos, N.M.
College: University of Washington
Born: Sept. 15, 1992
Hometown: Henderson, Nev.
College: Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville
Born: Dec. 1, 1992
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Va.
College: Virginia Commonwealth University