Three Rough Riders Selected in 2020 MLS SuperDraft
Michael LoRé | January 10, 2020
Long Island Rough Riders defender Dylan Nealis was selected third overall by expansion side Inter Miami FC in the first round of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft.
Nealis was one of three Rough Riders players to be chosen, being joined by defender Robin Afamefuna, taken No. 37 overall (second round) by the Colorado Rapids, and midfielder Manu Ferriol, selected No. 40 overall (second round) by FC Dallas.
“Congratulations to Dylan, Robin and Manu for being selected in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft,” Long Island Rough Riders president Peter Zaratin said. “Their selection continues to add to the storied history of the Long Island Rough Riders franchise and is a testament to our success over the years. We look forward to seeing their careers blossom at the next level as our organization continues to serve as a developmental platform for future talent in years to come.”
Nealis, who won the 2019 NCAA Division I College Cup with Georgetown University, made eight appearances for Long Island (5-1-8) last season. The Massapequa, N.Y., native follows in brothers Jimmy and Sean’s footsteps to Major League Soccer. Jimmy Nealis was drafted by the Houston Dynamo in 2013, while Sean was selected by the New York Red Bulls in 2019.
“I’ve been dreaming of this day since I was a little kid,” Nealis said. “I remember sitting on my couch watching my brother [Jimmy] get drafted and then last year Sean getting drafted by Red Bulls. I couldn’t be happier, especially to fall to a great team in Inter Miami. I’m very excited to head down there. It’s a dream come true today and I’m glad I had my family and friends here to witness it.”
Afamefuna helped guide the University of Virginia to the 2019 College Cup final against Nealis’ Hoyas, losing on penalty kicks. The defender from Wuerselen, Germany, made six appearances for the Rough Riders in 2018. The left back will be invited to Rapids’ preseason camp in the hopes of securing a professional contract.
“Our scouting department were very high on Robin from the beginning, and we had him ranked much higher than the 37th position,” Colorado executive vice president and general manager Padraig Smith said. “He’s a good 1-on-1 defender and an athletic player who has a ton of potential.”
Three picks after Afamefuna was selected, a Rough Riders’ player name was called again as Ferriol was taken by FC Dallas. The Spanish midfielder had five goals and four assists in with Long Island in 2019, being named a Player of the Year nominee.
He carried that momentum into his senior season at James Madison University, being named 2019 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year after leading the Dukes with 16 goals and six assists.
Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft will be conducted via conference call on Monday, January 13.