Atlanta United selects Erik Centeno with first pick in MLS draft

Atlanta United selected Eric Centeno, a forward/winger from Pacific, with the first pick in Tuesday's MLS draft.
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Atlanta United selected Eric Centeno, a forward/winger from Pacific, with the first pick in Tuesday's MLS draft.

Credit: MLS

Credit: MLS

With the 19th pick in the first round of the MLS draft Tuesday, Atlanta United selected Pacific’s Erik Centeno.

Centeno, a Generation Adidas player, is a forward/winger.

Centeno was the only freshman to start in all 16 games for Pacific, recording six goals and five assists, according to MLS. He was named first-team All-West Coast Conference and the conference’s Freshman of the Year.

“We think he’s quite crafty and tricky and can get to the end line and get some balls across,” Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra said. “So it’ll be great to have these guys in and we think all these guys have have an interesting profile and they’ll get a chance to come prove themselves in preseason.”

With the 19th pick in the second round, Atlanta United selected Air Force’s Tristan Trager. A midfielder, Trager scored 27 goals with 13 assists for the Falcons.

With its two picks in the third round, the team selected Daniel Bloyou, a forward from Penn State who scored 12 goals with nine assists the past two seasons, and Tola Showunmi, a forward from New Hampshire who scored 11 goals with five assists the past two seasons. Showunmi played at Merrimack College for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. Bloyou played at Old Dominion prior to Penn State.

“We’ve definitely looked at it with trying to plug, not necessarily some holes for the first team, but add some players that we think can develop and potentially affect the first team with all these guys,” Bocanegra said.

Bocanegra said each of the players will be invited to the team’s preseason. He said the players will be given a chance to make the first team but cautioned it will be a challenge. The team already has 29 players under contract for the 2022 season, and the team is deep, absent one position (striker). It is likely the players will go to Atlanta United 2, if signed.

“That’s definitely something that us as the club and the coaching staff will talk to the kids about but for all these kids it’s about coming in humble, putting their head down, working hard every day, trying to compete and do the best they can,” he said. “We also realize that it’s a big jump up from college straight to the first team level. "

Atlanta United is eligible to start training camp under manager Gonzalo Pineda on Sunday. It won’t start training until Tuesday.

Atlanta United’s past draft picks, in order: Miles Robinson, Julian Gressel, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, Alex Kapp, Jon Gallagher, Oliver Shannon, Gordon Wild, Paul Christensen, Anderson Asiedu, Amar Bashti, Patrick Nielsen, Phillip Goodrum, Josh Bauer and Aiden McFadden. Of those, Robinson is the only one with the team.

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m., FS1

March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

March 13 vs. Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FS1

March 19 vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 2 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 9 at Charlotte, 3 p.m., ESPN

April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN

April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 2 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs Miami, 4 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

August 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

August 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE