MLS Superdraft dream: Schaumburg’s Chris Mueller goes No. 6 to Orlando
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A kid from Schaumburg who has dreamed of playing professional soccer since he was a kid will get a chance to realize his dream.
Chris Mueller, a 5-feet-9 attacking player who played forward in college, was picked by Orlando City at No. 6 Friday in the Major League Soccer Superdraft.
Mueller — a product of Schaumburg High School, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the northwest suburban youth club that also produced U.S. men’s national team star Michael Bradley and his new Orlando teammates Jonathan Spector and Will Johnson, among other pros — already had signed a “senior contract” with MLS ahead of the draft.
He’ll be joined in Orlando by Cameron Lindley, a former Chicago Fire youth player from Carmel, Indiana, who was signed to a “homegrown player” contract after two years at the University of North Carolina.
Picked first, by the new Los Angeles FC, was University of Akron defender Joao Moutinho. He was followed by Stanford University defender Tomas Hillard-Arce going at No. 2 to the Los Angeles Galaxy, University of the Pacific defender Tristan Blackmon going at No. 3 to LAFC and University of Michigan forward Francis Atuahene going to FC Dallas at No. 4.
The Fire traded up to pick Wake Forest forward Jon Bakero at No. 5, sending money and a player to be named later to Minnesota United. Bakero won the Hermann Trophy as the top college soccer player this past season. He had 16 goals and 14 assists to lead the NCAA in scoring and became the second straight member of the Demon Deacons to win the award, after Ian Harkes.
The Fire also chose Syracuse midfielder Mo Adams with the No. 10 pick.
Mueller had been the subject of widespread interest from MLS teams after a stellar senior season in Madison in which he was named Big 10 offensive player of the year, leading the league in assists with 20 — a mark no one in the Big 10 had reached for more than a dozen years. Before the draft, Ian Fuller, assistant coach at Minnesota United, compared Mueller to one of England and Manchester United’s all-time greats, saying, “He’s got that Wayne Rooney-type bulldog attitude.”
In pre-draft testing at the MLS player combine in Orlando, Mueller was tops in the agility test and also among the fastest pro hopefuls in the 30-meter sprint.
At Wisconsin, where he played for coach John Trask, a former University of Illinois at Chicago head coach, Mueller helped lead his team to its first Big 10 title and to the sweet 16 round of the NCAA Division 1 tournament. He started slowly at Wisconsin, then had a breakout junior season and, as a senior, was second in the nation in total points, combining goals and assists.
Before Wisconsin, he played for the Sockers FC Chicago, based in Palatine, from the time he was 9 through high school, ultimately competing against elite clubs from around the country as part of the youth club’s U.S. Soccer Development Academy team.
In an interview posted on YouTube in advance of the MLS draft, Mueller spoke of struggling as a kid.
“I was never the best student,” he said. He also talked about figuring out in college what he needed to do to reach “my childhood dream . . . . When everyone went out to party . . . I was the one at home, watching film, reading or at the field.”