The Seattle Sounders drafted two midfielders on the first day of the MLS SuperDraft Friday, selecting the Air Force Academy’s Tucker Bone with the 20th overall pick and Creighton’s Joel Rydstrand with the 44th. Rydstrand will report to the Sounders immediately for pre-season training, but Bone will be unable to report until around May due to his ongoing military service requirements.
Bone scored 13 goals and had six assists his senior year for the Falcons and was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-American First Team. The midfielder posted the second-fastest agility time at the MLS Combine, completing the drill in 3.98 seconds.
Still, concerns about Bone’s military service requirements may have scared other teams away from drafting the 22-year-old. Bone is on a pilot’s training path, which requires at least 10 years of service. To play professionally, he will need to be granted an exemption under the Department of Defense’s World Class Athlete Program. Bone told Pro Soccer USA before the draft that he was confident of being granted an exemption.
Bone was excited to return to his birthplace as a professional.
“I’m coming home,” Bone said Friday. “I was born in Tacoma, Washington, so I’m excited about that to get to know the city a lot more considering I grew up in Sacramento. Growing up and playing club soccer, getting recruited to the Academy, that whole experience — there’s a lot of hype around the developmental academies these days and there’s just as much room for club players, young talented guys that can go to the college level and develop into professional athletes.”
Rydstrand was Creighton’s assist leader for the last three seasons. A starter since his freshman year, the Swedish midfielder started all but one of his 82 matches as a Bluejay. Finishing his college career with seven goals and 23 assists, Rydstrand was named the Big East’s Midfielder of the Year and a spot on the USC All-East Region Second Team.
Rydstrand said he had been hoping to wear Rave Green as a professional like several Swedes that had come before him.
“It was a great sense of happiness,” Rydstrand said. “I was really hoping for the Sounders and I’m so happy that it was Sounders that picked me. Obviously, we’ve had four Swedes there before with (Freddy) Ljungberg, (Erik) Friberg, (Adam) Johansson and now (Gustav) Svensson who’s a pretty big name back home. I would like to continue that tradition at the Sounders.
“I’ve seen many Seattle games. The fans are the number one thing that when you think about Seattle as a football club, it really excites you. When you see them in the stadium, even though it’s a football stadium they do a really good job of filling it and making the environment amazing and one of the best in the US, I would say.”
Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said the two draft selections will have the same chance too fight for a spot as their academy products currently developing on USL Championship contracts with Sounders 2.
“Picking at 20 in a flat draft where we didn’t feel there was that much exceptional talent—we brought back 22 guys this year, we’ve got a lot of money tied up in the cap already—we didn’t feel we were in a position to move up in this draft,” Lagerwey said. “With Tucker, we really wanted to get somebody with good character and work ethic. I think his resume speaks for itself in that regard. Throw in that he was born in Tacoma and has a connection to some of the military presence in Seattle, I think it’s a really good story and he’s an awesome kid. I think we can’t possibly lose by inviting a kid like that into our club, into our culture and giving him a chance. It may work, it may not. As I said, we have 10 kids signed now from the Academy to S2, if you throw in these two draft picks and potentially a third-round guy coming in, you put those 14 guys out there and let them sort it out. We’ll see who’s worth it and who wants it the most.”
The Sounders still hold the 68th overall pick in the third round of the draft, scheduled to take place via conference call Monday.