Three Penn State Men’s Soccer Players Drafted In MLS SuperDraft

Penn State men’s soccer is going pro, folks.

Three Penn State men’s soccer players were selected in the MLS SuperDraft Wednesday night. Jalen Watson, Andrew Privett, and Liam Butts all reached the professional level of soccer, though none were chosen in the first round.

Watson was selected by Toronto FC with the No. 32 overall pick, Toronto’s first selection in the draft.

The center back will join Toronto as the team aims to build off of the 2022 signings of Italian international stars Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi. Watson, a Toronto native developed in the Vancouver Whitecaps’ system, may have the chance to break into a lineup that allowed the third-most goals in 2022 with 66.

During his time with Penn State, Watson started 51 games out of nearly 60 played, totaling over 4,200 minutes. He was named to the All-Big Ten Tournament team in 2022 and was named to the All-Big Ten freshman team in 2018.

The San Jose Earthquakes selected Butts with the No. 33 overall pick, the Earthquakes’ second pick of the draft after they took Indiana defender Daniel Munie.

Butts, a forward from Georgia, will enter a team that’s struggled in recent years. The Earthquakes finished at the bottom of the Western Conference in 2022, though the team scored 52 goals across its 34-match season.

Butts was an instrumental part of head coach Jeff Cook’s attack during his time at Penn State. He notched 22 goals and six assists across 63 matches. While the forward often struggled with injury, Cook considers Butts to be one of the better forwards in the NCAA when he was healthy and in form.

Privett was selected by Charlotte FC as the No. 69 pick in the draft, the team’s fourth and final selection.

Privett joins Charlotte as it enters its second year in the league. Despite turmoil in its first season, Charlotte is set up for a successful sophomore year. The team finished just outside of the playoffs in 2022 and will try to continue the trend of MLS teams that see massive improvements in their second year.

In his time at Penn State, Privett provided a strong presence in the midfield. In 2021, he led the team in points, registering nine goals and four assists. In that same year, he was named second-team All-Big Ten and earned third-team All-North Region honors. Despite a slowdown in 2022, he still registered two goals and four assists in just over 1,000 minutes.

Goalkeeper Kris Shakes was the only Penn State player eligible for the draft that didn’t hear his name called. Shakes may still enter the league as a free agent.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a senior journalism major at Penn State and Onward State's managing editor. He writes about everything Penn State, especially its 10-2 football team. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. For dumb stuff, follow him on Twitter (iamjoelister). For serious stuff, email him ([email protected]).

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