Two Tigers picked in top-4 of MLS draft


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Mayaka had multiple projections for No. 1 in the draft previously. (Clemson photo)
Mayaka had multiple projections for No. 1 in the draft previously. (Clemson photo)

Clemson midfielder Philip Mayaka was selected No. 3 overall by the Colorado Rapids and forward teammate Kirmarni Smith went a pick later to DC United in Thursday's MLS SuperDraft.

Clemson senior defender Justin Malou also went in the first round at No. 27 overall to the Columbus Crew.

During his time at Clemson, Mayaka was named a 2019 MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist, second-team All-American, first-team All-South Region, first-team All-ACC, ACC Freshman of the Year, and was a member of the ACC’s All-Freshman team. Before the 2020 season, Mayaka earned preseason All-American honors from College Soccer News.

During his two seasons playing for the Tigers, Mayaka earned the start in 29 of his 32 appearances. The Nairobi, Kenya native contributed two goals and eight assists during his freshman season in 2019.

“Mayaka is the most MLS-ready player I have coached since being at Clemson,” said Clemson coach Mike Noonan in an earlier news release. “He has been a pleasure to coach, and any team would be happy to have him.”

The Nottingham, England native Smith led the nation in points (19) and goals (8) last fall, including a hat trick in the ACC Tournament. He scored 13 goals as a junior in 21 games (16 starts).

Malou, a Senegal native, made the 2020 All-ACC tournament team and started all 33 of his appearances over the last two seasons, also logging action in 24 games as an underclassman.

Mayaka signed a Generation Adidas contract before the draft, becoming the seventh in program history and a second consecutive year that Clemson has had a member of its program sign a Generation Adidas contract (Robbie Robinson). The forward Robinson went No. 1 overall to the Inter Miami in 2020.

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