The 2019 UConn men’s soccer season was, to put it simply, a dumpster fire. Injuries, bad luck, and mental mistakes led to head coach Ray Reid’s first losing season ever.
But it’s a new year, and the program got a bit of good news today after 2019 tri-captain Dayonn Harris was selected 20th overall in the Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft by Real Salt Lake. Harris joins fellow Husky alumni Kwame Awuah (16th) and Jake Nerwinski (7th) as the latest of 15 first-round Husky picks in MLS history. Nerwinski, Andre Blake, and now Harris are the Husky alums currently on MLS rosters.
Harris was projected by most soccer media outlets to go in the first round. Overall, he was the third of four AAC players to be taken, behind Garret McLaughlin (8th) of SMU and Cal Jennings (17th) of UCF. Temple keeper Simon Lefebvre was taken directly after Harris at 21, and still probably has nightmares of Abdou Mbacke Thiam.
Overall, UConn has faced eight players taken in the first round in the last two years, underscoring how the Huskies remain near the epicenter of the college soccer world despite last year’s struggles. Plus, goalkeeper Austin Aviza, who transferred from UConn to Providence in 2019, was picked up by Orlando City FC with the 44th pick. He’s not alone; Nkosi Burgess, who played three seasons at UConn before transferring to the University of Seattle last year, was drafted by FC Dallas with the 14th overall pick. So for those keeping score at home, UConn could have had three players drafted in the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft this year.
Harris finished tied for fifth-most assists last year with nine. Anyone that’s watched UConn in the last two years knows Harris’ crossing ability is world class, he just needs a strike partner on the finishing end. It was Abdou Mbacke-Thiam (currently still a striker for Louisville City in the USL) in 2018 and Jordan Hall for half of 2019 until injuries took their toll.
Harris joins a Salt Lake club that finished third in the Western Conference in 2019 and lost to Seattle in the quarterfinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs. With a solid midfield core already in place, there’s a strong chance Harris gets loaned out to Salt Lake’s United Soccer League (USL) side, the Real Monarchs. That’s not a bad thing at all; the Monarch’s are one of USL’s most well-run franchises, and is coming off its first USL Championship in 2019.