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Inter Miami CF takes Clemson’s Robbie Robinson with top pick in 2020 MLS SuperDraft

Robbie Robinson was the 2020 MAC Hermann Trophy winner. Nashville SC drafted Jack Maher No. 2 overall.

Robbie Robinson was taken No. 1 overall by Inter Miami CF in Thursday's 2020 MLS SuperDraft. (Image courtesy Major League Soccer, Clemson)

With the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s MLS 2020 SuperDraft, expansion side Inter Miami CF made Clemson’s Robbie Robinson the newest addition to the club.

A forward with a high-ceiling, Robinson won the MAC Hermann trophy this year, an award given to the top player in college soccer. He scored 18 goals this past season and helped lead Clemson to an appearance in the ACC title game and the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.

“I’m super excited to be apart of this organization. I think it’s going to be great,” Robinson said. “I’m ready to work really hard for the team and I can’t wait to get started. My expectations are just to go in there and work.”

Robinson, 21, is the latest inclusion in the attack of a still-growing Inter Miami roster. He joins fellow forwards Juan Agudelo, Julián Carranza and Jerome Kiesewetter.

“If Inter Miami does it the exact way they want to, they’re not relying on Robbie Robinson on Day One to be their No. 9. But injuries can happen, he can fill in the gaps,” ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman said during the draft. “I think Paul McDonough looks at Robbie Robinson as a depth piece.”

This isn’t the first SuperDraft rodeo for McDonough, Inter Miami’s sporting director. He helped decide on draft picks for Orlando City SC and Atlanta United FC in his previous MLS stops.

Most notably, those clubs had success with Cyle Larin — selected by Orlando No. 1 overall in 2015 — and Miles Robinson and Julian Gressel, both drafted by Atlanta in 2017. Larin scored 43 goals across three seasons for Orlando before being sold to a Turkish club in 2018. Gressel was integral to Atlanta United winning MLS Cup in 2018, and Robinson was a Defender of the Year finalist and named to the MLS Best XI this past season.

Inter Miami supporters are hoping Robinson will have similar success to McDonough’s previous picks.

“He scores goals every which-way. Right foot, left foot, head, getting inside the defender, one-touch finishes” MLSSoccer.com’s Matt Doyle said on the ESPN stream of the draft. “He wants to make guys look bad. You hope there’s some Cyle Larin in him.”

Shortly after he was drafted, Robinson had a Skype call with Inter Miami owner David Beckham.

Robinson is a Generation Adidas signee. In three seasons for Clemson, the Camden, South Carolina native scored 24 goals and dished out 10 assists. The 6-foot-2 forward has played professionally briefly, appearing in a 2017 U.S. Open Cup game with the Charleston Battery. Robinson was on an academy contract with the USL Championship side.

Inter Miami also had the third overall pick in the draft after acquiring the selection in a trade with FC Cincinnati. With the pick, they went to the opposite side of the pitch, taking Georgetown fullback Dylan Nealis. He is the younger brother of Sean Nealis, who plays for the New York Red Bulls.

Dylan Nealis of Georgetown was taken third overall by Inter Miami CF in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. (Image courtesy MLS, Georgetown)

Nealis was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 and helped lead the Hoyas to a College Cup title. He started 76 matches in four seasons at Georgetown and had seven goals and 14 assists over his collegiate career.

“You love his mentality. There’s a chip on his shoulder,” Twellman said of Nealis. “I think he may have a huge say in the starting XI.”

Doyle added: “He’s an overlapping right back. You can plug and play him.”

The second overall pick in the draft was held by fellow MLS expansion side Nashville SC. But the club didn’t announce their draft pick at a podium or in front of an ordinary backdrop. General manager Mike Jacobs and a bus-load of supporters drove to the house of Jack Maher, a centerback from Indiana University, to immediately welcome him into the club.

“It’s a dream come true,” Maher said. “To come to a team and a city like Nashville, the sky is the limit for us. This is really special… It means the world. Mike Jacobs is here and he’s an incredible guy.”

Indiana’s Jack Maher was taken second overall in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft on Thursday by Nashville SC. (Image courtesy MLS, Indiana)

Maher, 20, is a Generation Adidas signee and was regarded as one of the top defenders in this year’s draft class. In two seasons at Indiana, the Caseyville, Illinois native started in 46 games. This past season, the 6-foot-3 defender notched four goals and two assists and helped the Hoosiers win the Big Ten title.

Doyle called Maher “maybe the most pro-ready guy in this draft.” Maher has played professionally, albeit briefly, before. He has appeared in three matches with USL Championship side Saint Louis FC, playing on an amateur contract. Maher has also been called into U.S. national team youth camps.

“He’s very mature for his age. He’s got to get better with his feet, because we all know that centerbacks at this stage need to be able to pass between the lines and read the game,” Twellman said of Maher. “But this is the kind of mature kid that Nashville needs in their inaugural season, because they’re going to count on him.”

The third and fourth rounds of the 2020 SuperDraft will take place Monday at 3 p.m. ET.

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