Natives Picked in MLS Draft

(January 14, 2005) - Drafted first by Real Salt Lake, Washington native and FC United player Nikolas Besagno became the youngest player since Freddy Adu to enter into Major League Soccer (MLS).

Though only 16 years old, Besagno has made a name for himself within the soccer community having notched critical time with the U.S. Youth National Team and Under-17 Residency Program. This high level exposure gave Real Salt Lake Coach John Ellinger a good look at Besagno's skills and ability day in and day out; ultimately helping him nudge out other top prospects for the coveted draft position.

The newest team in the MLS, Real Salt Lake already has an arsenal of talented players such as Jason Kreis, Clint Mathis and Andy Williams. Besagno's impressive skills as a defensive midfielder will undoubtedly strengthen an already great lineup and help build this young program.

Here at home, Besagno is a member of the Washington State Youth Soccer Association's Tacoma Pierce County Junior Soccer Association (T.P.C.J.S.A) and plays for the FC United U17 team. He is on the Olympic Development Team (ODP) and represents the WSYSA throughout the country.

Besagno won't be the only Washington State player to go pro as Tim Merritt was also selected in the MLS Superdraft by DC United. Merritt, son of ODP Committee Director Liz Merritt, played his college career at the University of North Carolina and was a former FC United and WSYSA ODP player as well.

Upon news of both draft selections, Bryan Yorke, Coaching Director of the F.C. United Premier Soccer program stated "We are extremely proud of Nik and Tim. They are outstanding individuals with a great talent for the game. Their hard-work and dedication gave F.C. United two great role models for all of our players, past, present and future, to look up to. We are very excited to watch them grow and become successful professionals."

News of today's draft also reached many of the Washington State Youth Soccer Association members including Bill White, WSYSA Vice President of Development who stated, "WSYSA is very proud of Nik and Tim. Their success is a product of their youth soccer experience and the support of their families over the years. Their dreams started here and we hope they realize their dreams yet to come."

Washington State Youth Soccer Association is a non-profit and educational organization that serves as the state governing body for organized youth soccer. A volunteer-driven association dedicated to making soccer a "Game For All Kids," Washington State Youth Soccer proudly boasts a registration of more than 125,000 players between the ages of 5 and 19, ranking it as one of the top ten state associations in the country. Washington State Youth Soccer is a proud member of US Youth Soccer, the US Soccer Federation (USSF) and an affiliate of FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association.

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