Robbie Robinson and Dylan Nealis drafted in the 2020 MLS Superdraft
MIAMI, Fla. (January 9, 2019) —
With the No. 1 and No. 3 selections of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, all eyes were on Inter Miami on draft day. Paul McDonough read out the names of those two players being selected, but they were not his only focus.
With the first overall pick, Inter Miami selected the 2019 Mac Hermann winning striker Robbie Robinson, 21, from Clemson University. With the third pick, they went with the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s champion full-back Dylan Nealis, 21, from Georgetown University.
Miami also traded its natural fourth-round pick (No. 79 overall) in the draft to FC Dallas today in exchange for the College Protected List Rights to Dylan Castanheira.
“Robbie and Dylan Nealis have both had exciting collegiate careers and will bring more offensive and defensive depth to our roster,” said the Club’s Sporting Director Paul McDonough.
Robinson is a sizeable forward at six feet two inches (1.88 m) in height. At Clemson, he compiled 24 goals and 10 assists in his brief career. He earned 2019 MAC Hermann, Trophy honours, awarded to the nation’s top college soccer player, and was named a First Team All-American and ACC Offensive Player of the Year. He finished the 2019 season as joint top scorer in NCAA Division I with 18 goals and top-10 in the country with nine assists in just 19 games. Robinson is also a Generation adidas player. [Generation adidas player salaries do not count against a team’s allotted salary budget. For more information on MLS roster rules, please visit here.]
Robinson was on campus at Clemson surrounded by family, friends, coaches and teammates when he was selected. “Coincidentally,” he happened to have an Inter Miami scarf which he put on when his name was called. Then, he received a surprise call from Club owner David Beckham welcoming him to la familia. He becomes the fourth forward on the squad.
▪ Robbie Robinson, F, Clemson: The highest-scoring forward available, and winner of the Hermann Trophy (soccer’s version of the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the top player). He missed most of his sophomore season due to injuries, but came back to score 18 goals – tied for top in the nation – and had nine assists. He is 6-2 (1.88m) and is talented enough to make an impact.
“When I met with Robbie, I said to him ‘look, it might be hard for you to step in and play for us right away,'” McDonough recalled. “What I liked about him is that he responded: ‘If you don’t think I can play for you, why are you going to draft me?’ I think he’s got his work cut out for him, but I think in Diego [Alonso]’s system he’ll have the opportunity to grow and develop.”
While Robinson is a natural centre-forward, McDonough noted that the club sees him as being able to play out on the wings.
Nealis is a right back who captained Georgetown University for the past two years. He appeared in 78 games for the team, starting 76 of those, and scoring seven goals and adding 14 assists. He led the Hoyas to the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s College Cup title, defeating the University of Virginia in the final. Nealis was named a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist for the 2019 season, won the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and was named to the All-Big East First Team and the United Soccer Coaches All-America First Team. He was also named Big East Defensive Player of the Year and All-Big East First Team for the 2018 season.
Nealis was hosted at a restaurant in his hometown of Massapequa, N.Y. during the draft. A crowd of about 20 people gathered to congratulate him on the moment.
“Our opinion is that [Nealis] was the most pro-ready guy in the draft,” McDonough said. “We went back and forth at whether we were going to take him at No. 1 because we weren’t sure he was going to be there at No. 3.
Nealis is expected to challenge for regular playing time from day one on the Rosanegro backline.
▪ Dylan Nealis, RB, Georgetown: Younger brother of New York Red Bulls defender Sean Nealis. A senior signee, he is more seasoned than the underclassmen. Won the 2019 NCAA Championship with the Hoyas and was a Hermann Trophy finalist. During his four years, he started 78 games, scored seven goals and had 14 assists. He was back-to-back Big East Defensive Player of the Year and was one of the best outside backs in college.
Inter Miami trade 4th round (70th pick) to FC Dallas for rights to Dylan Castanheira
Castanheira was a 2019 SuperDraft selection of FC Dallas. He is a 24-year-old goalkeeper who has USL Championship experience. He spent the 2019 season playing for Atlanta United 2 where he made 21 appearances. From 2014 to 2018 Castanheira attended Columbia University, making 44 appearances and earning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Ivy League honors. He also broke the school record for clean sheets in a career.
“As for Dylan Castanheira, he’s a promising young player that we look forward to continue watching this season,” Paul McDonough added.
Miami anticipates adding two Designated Players shortly in time for the 2020 season. (More on that) As for today’s collegiate selections, Paul McDonough was pleased. The club viewed Robinson as the draft-eligible player with the most talent and Nealis the most pro-ready of the bunch.
McDonough also said the club fielded calls to gauge their interest in potentially trading one of their picks last week, but the club thought it made more sense to keep the selections. Drafting Robinson and Nealis is exactly what the club hoped.
“This is an ideal scenario for us,” McDonough concluded.
Stay tuned to find out about those two Designated Players, as Miami moves closer to the opening of preseason training camp on January 18.