Forward James Rogers became the second former Lobo taken in the MLS SuperDraft when Sporting Kansas City selected him 53rd overall Tuesday.
The Sierra Leone native joined former teammate Oniel Fisher as one of the 84 players selected in this year’s draft. Fisher was selected by Seattle Sounders FC with the40th overall pick on Thursday during the second round.
Although only 1/3 of over 250 eligible players were selected during the draft, Rogers’ selection did not exactly come as a surprise.
After Rogers was not chosen in the first two rounds, UNM head coach Jeremy Fishbein said he wasn’t worried. He predicted Rogers would be selected in the next two rounds.
Nate Sulat, a contributor to MLSsoccer.com, also appeared to have faith in Rogers. On an MLS article, Sulat listed Rogers as one of the top 20 players available for the third and fourth rounds.
Sulat described Rogers as a “fast, dynamic attacking prospect,” whose speed made him a “threat on the wings.”
Fishbein said he was excited when he found out his prediction was right and his former player had been selected.
“I am really excited for James,” Fishbein said. “He works really hard and truly deserves this. This is his dream.”
He described Rogers’ as “an explosive player” whose best qualities are his tenacity and his desire.
Rogers’ career as a Lobo is described by the UNM men’s soccer program as one of the most productive in the program history. He ranks in the top 10 in assists, shots, points, goals and starts.
During his four years at UNM, Rogers also helped lead his team to three straight Sweet 16 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including a trip to the program's second ever College Cup in 2013.
Rogers MLS selection was not the only thing he had to celebrate this week.
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On Monday he was named one of 24 semifinalists for the Wooden Citizenship Cup. The award is presented to two athletes from any sport that best display “character, teamwork, and citizenship.”
“James really is a great student, a great player and a great member of the community,” Fishbein said.
In 2013 Rogers was named NSCAA Scholar All-Region and was a two-time Academic All-District honoree during his time at UNM.
Rogers also devoted numerous hours of volunteering with different organizations such as the Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Charities and the American Youth Soccer Organization.
Fishbein said he is proud of Rogers and that he thinks the former Lobo is ready for the MLS.
“All he needs is a chance to be successful. I'm excited to see how his career will turn out."
Isabel Gonzalez is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cisabelg.