Atlanta United today selected defender Miles Robinson and midfielder Julian Gressel in the first round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Robinson, from Syracuse University, was selected with the No. 2 overall pick, while Gressel, from Providence College, was selected at No. 8. Rounds three and four of the MLS SuperDraft will be held next Tuesday, Jan. 17, via conference call.
“We’re happy with today’s draft as we feel we’ve added two more quality players to our roster,” Atlanta United president Darren Eales said. “With Miles, he was a player we had our eye on throughout the process. He has the physical attributes to fit in well with our style of play. Julian is a player who we feel is ready to contribute after a very successful college career and his versatility made him appealing.”
Part of the 2017 Generation Adidas class, Robinson, 19, was a two-year starter for Syracuse where he was named the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He scored eight goals in his two years with the Orange and picked up honors for ACC All-Freshman Team, ACC All-Tournament Team and All-ACC First Team. In his 42 career starts, he helped the Orange defense post 20 shutouts. He has represented the U.S. Youth National Team at the U-20 level, earning eight appearances, all starts, in 2016.
During his freshman year, Robinson started 24 matches and helped lead Syracuse to the Semifinals of the 2015 NCAA College Cup. Three of his four goals were headers, including a goal against Seattle (Nov. 29) in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. In 2016 he made 17 starts, missing time due to National Team duties. He scored four goals while registering one assist and leading Syracuse to the Third Round of Regional 1 in the NCAA Tournament. A native of Arlington, Mass., Robinson played youth soccer with FC Bolts Celtic where he was a four-year starting center back. Robinson was named to the U-15 and U-16 All-Eastern Conference Starting XI and was dubbed team captain his senior year.
With the No. 8 pick, Atlanta acquired Gressel, 23, was a four-year starter at Providence, making 83 career appearances while scoring 30 goals and tallying 26 assists. In 2016, he was a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, an award for the top college soccer player in the U.S. Gressel finished second all-time in Providence history for goals, assists and points. During his senior year, he recorded 15 goals and six assists. Five of his 15 goals came as game-winners, including the lone goal in the Friars’ 1-0 victory over St. Johns to win the Big East regular season title. Gressel collected nine points in the NCAA Tournament, including scoring twice in a 5-4 victory over No. 1 seed Maryland.
The Germany native was named Big East Co-Offensive Player of the Year (2016), First Team All-Big East (2016), Big East All-Tournament Team (2016, 2015, 2014) and Big East All-Rookie Team (2013). Gressel helped pilot the Friars to the NCAA Tournament in three of his four seasons, reaching the Semifinals of the NCAA College Cup in 2014. The Friars also won the Big East Tournament in 2014, topping Xavier 2-1 in the finals. Gressel scored five goals in each of his first three seasons with Providence and set a career-high in assists his junior year (11). Prior to attending Providence, Gressel played at several German Clubs including TSV Neustadt/Aisch, FC Eintracht Bamberg and SG Quelle Furth.
While Friday’s draft consisted of the first two rounds, Atlanta’s second round selection, No. 24 overall, was traded to Colorado Rapids on Dec. 11, 2016 in exchange for an international roster slot. Atlanta then acquired the No. 8 pick in a trade with Orlando City SC on Dec. 13 in exchange for Donny Toia, who was selected by Atlanta in the MLS Expansion Draft.