Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sporting KC selects two to close out MLS SuperDraft

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- Sporting Kansas City selected University of New Mexico midfielder James Rogers (53rd overall) and University of Tulsa defender Tony Rocha (73rd overall) on Tuesday in the final two rounds of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.

The two college seniors join Sporting Kansas City's three first-round picks - Connor Hallisey, Saad Abdul-Salaam and Amadou Dia - to complete the club's 2015 draft class.

In addition, Sporting Kansas City traded the team's second-round pick to the Houston Dynamo in exchange for the rights to midfielder Servando Carrasco.

"James Rogers is a wide player who scored quite a few goals from that position. It will be interesting to see what he's like and how he takes the next steps to this level," Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. "In regards to Rocha, he played three different positions: left back, left winger and left-central midfielder. He's a pretty versatile guy."

Rogers, 21, was a member of the United States Under-20 Men's National Team in 2012 after first representing the U.S. at the under-15 level in 2007.

A native of Sierra Leone, Rogers moved to the United States at age 11 and competed for the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake academies prior to being recruited to the University of New Mexico.

He contributed 18 goals and 21 assists in 80 games for the Lobos over a four-year collegiate career. Most recently, he earned an invite to the MLS Player Combine and recorded the sixth-highest vertical jump among all participants.

Rocha, 21, was a four-year starter at the University of Tulsa where he recorded seven goals and 10 assists in 76 college appearances. After being named Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2011, Rocha led the Golden Hurricane to three straight conference championship appearances.

Tulsa earned automatic berths into the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and 2014 after winning conference championships in both Conference USA and the American Athletic Conference.

Rocha also spent three seasons with the Austin Aztex of the USL Premier Development League, winning a PDL title in 2013 and earning All-Southern Conference honors each of the last two years.

As a youth, Rocha was a member of the United States Under-14 Boys' National Team identification camp in 2006 alongside current U.S. Men's National Team players Jon Kempin, Wil Trapp, Will Packwood and DeAndre Yedlin.

Sporting Kansas City will kick off the team's 20th season on March 8 at Sporting Park in a nationally-televised match against the New York Red Bulls at 6 p.m. CT on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes.

Prior to the 2015 season, Sporting Kansas City will travel to Tucson, Arizona for the team's pre-season preparations (Jan. 25 through Feb. 10 and Feb. 15 through March 1).