Three Aztex Players Taken in MLS SuperDraft
Manneh, who just turned 18 on Dec. 30, was a star attacker for the Aztex last year, scoring 10 goals to tie Kris Tyrpak for the team lead. He came here from Gambia in 2010, as part of a development program set up in that country by youth soccer giant Rush Soccer. He was the first forward taken in the draft, and clearly, a lot is expected of him. He's got crazy ball skills, enough pace and balance to work himself free, and a nose for the goal. At 140 pounds, the biggest question may be whether he has the stamina to thrive in a league better known for its physical play than for its artistry.
Midfielders Powers and Smith are more in the typical MLS mold – both came out of Texas high schools and excelled at major universities – though they're quite different styles of player. Powers is a bulldog central midfielder and was a two-time captain for the Fighting Irish, one of the elite programs in the country. Smith is a speedy, left-footed outside midfielder, who really blossomed at UNM the last couple of seasons. Neither played a major role with the Aztex last year – appearing in just two games each â€“ but it should be noted that both had breakout senior seasons this past fall, following their stays with the Aztex and their coaching staff. That's got to be a feather in the cap of head coach Paul Dalglish, and a positive talking point in recruiting future young players. Way to go, team.
And, happy birthday, Blake – he turns 22 today.