Homegrown Talent: Utahns Drafted
Last season Justin Braun grabbed national attention by getting invited to Chivas USA camp by non other than the manager of Chivas himself, Preki. The former Skyline High School standout made the most of his opportunity to impress, earning a consistent spot in the Chivas lineup and even scoring for the Red-and-White in the playoffs - ironically against Real Salt Lake.
Every time I saw something on Braun I thought there had to be other Utah-based players playing beyond their high school careers. Those thoughts have lead me to watch for exceptional players from the state.
The folks over at the Utah Youth Soccer Association have made the initial search quite easy with their recent story on three former UYSA players who were drafted in this years Major League Soccer and Womens Professional Soccer drafts. As I like to consider myself a gentleman, we'll start with the ladies first.
Katie Larkin, Los Angeles Sol
An All-American standout at Brigham Young University, Draper native Katie Larkin was the 19th selection in the first WPS Draft. The Los Angelos Sol picked up the Midfielder/Forward who was a Hermann Trophy candidate her senior season at BYU. Larkin was also in the US National Team Player Pool from 2002-2004. Among her teammates in Los Angelos will be three-time FIFA Women's Player of the Year Marta.
Larkin also holds several offensive records from her days at Alta High, where she also received NSCAA High School State Player of the Year honors in 2004.
(Photo courtesy of Geoffrey McAllister)
Allison Martino, Boston Breakers
Another Alta graduate was also taken in the WPS Draft. Allison Martino headed south after high school to play in the Big XII with Texas A&M. Playing in one of the nation's toughest conferences for women's soccer, Martino stood out as one of the top talents in the conference earning All-Big XII honors her senior season in 2007.
Following her days as an Aggie, Martino spent 2008 playing for the Boston Renegades of MassPremierSoccer. It appears that she won't be needing to move as she was picked up by the Boston Breakers.
(photo courtesy of Texas A&M)
Kyle Christensen, Chivas USA
Following a standout career at Layton High School, Kyle Christensen jumped over the Rocky Mountains to continue his playing career at the University of Denver. Christensen capped his extremely successfull college career by leading the Pioneers to the school's first ever Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title in 2008, as well as DU's first appearance in the NCAA tournament. His efforts led Christensen to receive MPSF Player of the Year honors in that same season.
While at the University of Denver Christensen did not play during the 2005 and 2006 seasons while he served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during that time.
Christensen also played two seasons with the Ogden Outlaws, of the Premier Development Leauge. While with the PDL side, he netting 10 goals and 4 assists in 20 games.
Preseason has already started for Chivas USA and Christensen has wasted no time making in impression, as he has already found his way on the scoresheet for the Goats. The Layton native scored the fifth and final goal in the Red-and-White's 5-1 trouncing of Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C. of the Chinese Super League.
(photo courtesy of University of Denver)
Hat tip to @RSLSoccerPod