His voice rising with enthusiasm, Anderson Asiedu said that Atlanta United is going to defend its MLS Cup, and he hopes to be a part of it.
The reigning champs selected Asiedu, a native of Ghana who played at Monmouth and UCLA, with the 24th pick in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft in Chicago on Friday. The team selected Stanford midfielder Amir Bashti with the 48th pick. Bashti didn’t attend the draft.
“I’m so excited because not just a regular team picked me,” Asiedu said. “The best team in the country picked me. I’m so excited for the moment.”
Asiedu was the MVP of the MLS Combine in Orlando. In addition to his tenacity on the field, he wowed Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer in his interview, helping him the No. 1 pick on their board. De Boer said he knows that every coach says that, but in this case it’s true.
“What I like a lot, he’s very enthusiastic,” de Boer said. “A footballer, a player who has different kind of qualities. He’s very comfortable on the ball. But the position he plays, a control midfielder, he comes into a lot of challenges.
“He’s a busy bee, all around the plays. You need that kind of person at that position. Very fortunate that we had the chance to pick him.”
Asiedu brings a championship pedigree, having helped his high school, St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey, win a state title, and then winning the 2014 USSDA National Championship with his Players Development Academy team.
He matriculated to Monmouth, making 37 starts in two seasons. Seeking a greater challenge, he requested a transfer and landed at UCLA, which was out of scholarships. Asiedu impressed and quickly earned one.
“I balled out,” he said. “I did good.”
He made 33 starts with three goals and four assists, playing mostly as an attacking midfielder, which doesn’t suit his skills.
He played his more natural role as defensive midfielder at the Combine. He said he models his game on Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante. His favorite player from Ghana is another former Chelsea standout, Michael Essien.
Asiedu said he perfers to play as part of a two-man defensive midfield, but is comfortable manning the middle by himself, if needed.
“I love to win balls,” he said. “When we have the ball we have everything. When we don’t have the ball we don’t have everything. I have all the criteria as a player, but the best I do is to win the ball.”
Asiedu has some familiarity with Atlanta United and the city.
UCLA trained at the team’s facility in Marietta before a game at Clemson. He said the place was amazing. He also watched the playoff series against the New York Red Bulls as well as the MLS Cup victory over Portland.
“I just want to follow the legacy of the people in Atlanta,” he said. “I’m just a little man ... but I’m willing to put in the work. I thank Atlanta for giving me the opportunity. I’m all about going out there and proving myself to the city that I can do it. I can ball. That’s what I’m here for.”
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