Taylor, Leerman Selected in 2022 MLS SuperDraft

2022 MLS SuperDraft Tracker #UCFamily - Men's Soccer

ORLANDO, Fla. – The UCF men's soccer team had a pair of alumni selected in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft as Nick Taylor was selected by Orlando City in the third round and Yanis Leerman was picked by the Chicago Fire in the fourth round on Tuesday night.

"It's exciting to see that both Nick and Yanis have an opportunity to continue to play this game that they love so much," said head coach Scott Calabrese. "Our staff and Knight Nation will be rooting for them at the next level!"

Taylor and Leerman are the 10th and 11th Knights to be selected in the MLS SuperDraft, and two of four to be taken in the last three drafts. They are the third and fourth draft picks in the Calabrese era.

Taylor was taken with the 18th pick in the third round by Orlando City, which was the 74th overall pick. The fifth-year senior has had quite the journey to the MLS, playing for three different squads on his way through college soccer. He played two seasons at New Mexico before the program closed its doors, which had Taylor on the move to SMU, where he played on the Mustang's back line for two years. It wasn't until this past season that the Coppell, Texas native arrived to UCF and had a season to remember. Taylor posted a career high in points and assists, tallying a trio of goals to go along with nine assists, good enough for a tie of eight on UCF's single season assists list and just three helpers away from a tie of the top spot.

"Nick is versatile player who can play all along the left side at left winger, left wingback and left back," said Calabrese. "He has a strong mentality and is willing to do the work in every phase of the game.  He has an exceptional left foot, the ability to free himself to create the space for a pass or a cross and the quality in the final third to be productive, to generate assists and score goals."

As of Taylor's selection, Orlando City had been responsible for selecting three of UCF's most recent four draft picks, with Hadji Barry being taken with the 13th overall pick in 2016 and Jonathan Dean being nabbed in 2020 with the 39th overall pick.

The evening didn't stop there, as 11 picks later, Leerman came off the board in the supplemental round, being drafted by the Chicago Fire with the 85th overall pick. Leerman had a 2021 to remember, earning All-American honors in the spring season while earning a career high in points in the fall. The Troyes, France native scored the first goal of his collegiate career in the American Athletic Conference semifinals and added three assists throughout the campaign. Chicago had four picks in this year's SuperDraft, selecting a defender with each pick.

"Yanis is very intelligent defender," said Calabrese. "He has the athleticism and mobility to deal with the pace of MLS forwards but also has a deep understanding of the position. To me, his most outstanding qualities come into play when building out of the back. He has the ability to play a range of passes and carry the ball into the midfield to break opponent's pressure."

Leerman is the second Knight to be taken by the Fire in the MLS SuperDraft, the first being arguably the most successful UCF alumnus, Sean Johnson, who was also taken in the fourth round back in 2010. Johnson is one of two Knights to win an MLS Cup and was named the MLS Cup MVP for his performance in this year's final.

There are now eight active UCF men's soccer alumni in professional soccer here in the United States. Johnson and Cal Jennings finished the year on MLS rosters with NYCFC and LAFC respectively. Hadji Barry, along with Dean and Louis Perez were active in the USL Championship this season while Yannik Oettl was a part of the New England Revolution II in USL League One. Taylor and Leerman will be the seventh and eighth former Knights to play professionally in America. Matias Pyysalo, Deshorn Brown and Romario Williams are three additional Black and Gold alumni who are active overseas.

A full list of UCF's MLS draft picks and careers, visit the #UCFamily page attached to this release.
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