Minnesota United announced today the club has selected midfielder Justin McMaster, defender Nabilai Kibunguchy and defender Sean O’Hearn with the 17th, 18th and 38th picks in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft, respectively.
MNUFC traded $50,000 in General Allocation Money plus $25,000 of conditional GAM to New York City FC for the 17th overall pick if McMaster plays a total of 25 games across the 2021 and 2022 MLS seasons combined. Additionally, Minnesota traded the 25th overall pick and $50,000 GAM for the 18th pick with Toronto FC.
“We always approach the SuperDraft prepared to make moves to get the players we target,” said MNUFC Head Coach Adrian Heath. “We have a track record that shows our success over the past several years in selecting and developing young players out of college. We are really pleased with what we did today. We didn’t think any of the players we took would be available when our picks were up, so at the end of the day, we did what we had to and we are delighted to have landed all of our targets.”
Minnesota United held a media availability to introduce all three draft picks earlier this afternoon. Media can access the full interview HERE.
With the 17th pick, Minnesota selected midfielder Justin McMaster from Wake Forest University. McMaster made 58 game appearances across four seasons at Wake Forest with 12 goals and eight assists. The Jamaican international has represented Jamaica at the youth national team level, most recently joining the 2016 U-18 National Team Camp and participating in the 2013 and 2015 CONCACAF U-15 and U-18 Championships, respectively. Additionally, McMaster played as an amateur for USL Club Bethlehem and as a member of the Philadelphia Union Academy. Any player on the eligible player list is available for selection even if currently playing in a domestic professional league. If they are on the SuperDraft list of players eligible for selection, and a team picks them, their MLS rights go to the MLS club. The MLS club then has the opportunity to potentially negotiate a contract.
“Justin is a player we had our eyes on right away,” said Heath. “We believe in his talent, he’s a player that will fit in with our style of play. He’s extremely athletic, he’s dynamic on the ball, he wants to take players on with the dribble and he’s more than capable of combining with his teammates across the field. It was a tough year for Justin, and we firmly believe if he hadn’t had his injury, there was no way he would have been available to us with the 17th pick.”
Kibunguchy was selected with the 18th overall pick by Minnesota. The defender from California has 52 game appearances across four seasons at UC Davis, including starting all 20 games in the 2019 season. In 2019, Kibunguchy was named 2019 All-Big West Conference First Team and Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week. Internationally, Kibunguchy was selected for the U.S. U-19 Men’s National Team for the Slovakia Cup, helping the U.S. to the title with a 2-1 win over Russia in the finals.
“Nabi is a top-10 talent in this draft”, said Heath. “When we realized he was still available we immediately made a trade to select him. He’s a gifted and versatile player who can play in the center of the defense or as a number six role. We can’t wait to get him here to Minnesota to continue his development and let him learn alongside his teammates and coaches.”
With its final pick in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft, MNUFC selected defender Sean O’Hearn from Georgetown University. O’Hearn has 62 game appearances across three seasons with Georgetown and was an integral part of a defense that posted 13 shutouts in 2019 and was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week in 2019. As a rookie, O’Hearn was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team. In December, he signed with the New England Revolution II of USL League One. Any player on the eligible player list is available for selection even if currently playing in a domestic professional league. If they are on the SuperDraft list of players eligible for selection, and a team picks them, their MLS rights go to the MLS club. The MLS club then has the opportunity to potentially negotiate a contract.
“The coaches at Georgetown couldn’t speak any more highly of Sean,” said Heath. “His coaches told me that he’s the toughest bastard they’ve had. He’s uncompromising, hard-nosed and always up for a battle. What more can you ask for in a defender. We were thrilled he was still available in the second round and we have no doubt he will remember the teams that passed on him in the draft.”
Date of birth: 06.30.1999 (21 years old)
Weight: 165 lbs
Birthplace: Kingston, Jamaica
Date of birth: 01.05.1998 (23 years old)
Birthplace: Elk Grove, California
Date of Birth: 06.11.1998 (22 years old)
Weight: 145 lbs
Birthplace: Mountville, Pennsylvania