SALT LAKE CITY — Unlike its previous 24 seasons, Major League Soccer kicked off Year 25 with an MLS SuperDraft conducted remotely from office sites across the country, and coordinated by MLS headquarters in New York City and a live ESPN show in Bristol, Connecticut.
But like most of its previous iterations, Real Salt Lake added a player in the latter stages of the Thursday draft.
RSL drafted UConn winger Dayonn Harris with the No. 20 overall pick in the newly revamped SuperDraft, adding an older college veteran to a position in need of depth in Sandy, before selecting Michigan State center back Michael Wetungu in the second round.
"We are very excited to add two players that we had rated extremely highly on our draft board as two of the top prospects coming out of NCAA this year," RSL general manager Elliot Fall said in a statement from the club. "Dayonn is a proven attacking threat on the wings who will add to our list of young promising attacking players. Michael is a solid defender who we see translating to the professional level seamlessly."
Harris, a 5-foot-7, 155-pound Canadian youth international, was a fifth-year senior with the Huskies in 2019 after transferring from Penn State. A breakout junior season led to his reputation as an elite scoring threat on the flank. But Harris totaled just two goals and nine assists in 18 matches as a senior in 2019 for the Huskies, who finished 5-12-1 and lost to South Florida in the opening round of the American Athletic Conference tournament in November.
A year prior, in his first season with the Huskies after sitting out most of 2017 with an injury, Harris finished second on the team with five goals, seven assists and 40 shots, and earned All-ACC second-team honors and All-East Region second-team honors by the United Soccer Coaches.
Harris, who has Jamaican roots, spent two years in the Canadian national team system while growing up in Milton, Ontario.
Wetungu was selected as RSL’s second-round pick at No. 46 overall.
The 6-foot-3, 198-pound center back played 1,134 minutes as a senior in 2019 for the Spartans (3-12-3), and scored a goal in a 3-1 victory over Ohio State on Oct. 19. A tall, rangy center back who can play on the left or right side of defense, Wetungu was a Big Ten All-Freshman award winner in 2016 and earned All-Big Ten Academic honors for three straight years while majoring in kinesiology.
Both draft picks will join RSL for the preseason, which begins Jan. 18 in Herriman. The club will then travel to Tucson, Arizona, for a 12-day trip during the Visit Tucson Sun Cup beginning Feb. 11.
RSL opens the 2020 season Feb. 9 at Orlando City SC. The club's home opener, which can be watched live on KMYU and KSL.com, is Saturday, March 7, against the New York Red Bulls.
RSL Academy product Tanner Dieterich was selected in the second round, No. 28 overall, by MLS expansion side Nashville SC. The 21-year-old Nashville native played four seasons at Clemson, tallying three goals and 10 assists for the Tigers (18-2-2) in 2019.
The SuperDraft wraps up Monday, Jan. 13, with the third and fourth rounds, conducted via conference call. If history is true to form, however, RSL may pass out of the final two rounds of the draft like the organization opted to do last year.