The MLS SuperDraft contains some of the top soccer prospects in the country, and while United have made impressive selections in the past, they have also acquired players that have launched successful careers after being selected by other teams in previous years' SuperDrafts. Patrick Mullins, Kofi Opare and Darren Mattocks were drafted by New England, Los Angeles and Vancouver, respectively, and have all made their individual stamps on Major League Soccer. Although the three made their professional debuts for other clubs, each player has showcased their quality in the league which led to an eventual trade to D.C. United.
Here's a look at how these players used the SuperDraft to spark their MLS campaigns.
Selected by New England with 11th overall pick in 2014 SuperDraft
School: University of Maryland
Mullins didn't start his professional career with United, but received his opportunity to play in MLS when he was drafted by New England with the 11th overall selection in the 2014 SuperDraft. The forward enjoyed a fruitful collegiate career at the University of Maryland, scoring 47 goals in 84 appearances on the way to winning two MAC Hermann trophies (2012, 2013). His goal-scoring record at Maryland had MLS coaches salivating over the prospect, and since his transition to professional soccer, the 26-year-old has notched 23 goals and recorded nine assists in 90 MLS appearances. United acquired Mullins from NYCFC on July 20, 2016, and the forward has scored 13 times in two seasons with the Black-and-Red. He's notched two hat tricks in 24 regular season starts for the club with the most recent coming when he became the first player in MLS history to score four goals in a half on Sept. 23, 2017, against San Jose.
Selected by Los Angeles with the 24th overall pick in 2013 SuperDraft
School: University of Michigan
Opare was drafted by Los Angeles in the second round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. The defender impressed during his time at the University of Michigan and his athleticism and strength caused the Galaxy to take notice of the center back. Opare was traded to United in 2014, but enjoyed a breakout season last year when he scored twice and recorded an assist in a season-high 26 appearances. Opare was a pillar of the Black-and-Red backline and provided the offense with an additional aerial threat on set pieces. He made a habit of blocking shots and putting in last-ditch defensive challenges to prevent goalscoring opportunities for the opposition, earning him the honors of United's 2017 Defensive MVP. After a string of dominant performances in 2017, fans will be optimistic that Opare can continue his upward trajectory as a center back in Major League Soccer.
Selected by Vancouver with the 2nd overall pick in 2012 SuperDraft
School: University of Akron
United's new signing and Jamaican National Team forward Darren Mattocks got his foot in Major League Soccer's door when he was selected by Vancouver with the second overall pick in the 2012 SuperDraft. Mattocks was in the same SuperDraft class as United veteran Nick DeLeon, with both players ending up as finalists in the 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year competition. Since making his MLS debut on March 10, 2012, the 27-year-old has scored 25 goals and recorded 11 assists in 75 MLS starts. With preseason on the horizon, Black-and-Red fans will be hoping that Mattocks can replicate his goal scoring form in the Eastern Conference.
While D.C. faithful will be fixated on which collegiate prospect United select with the third overall pick in this year's SuperDraft, fans never know which other top draftees could ultimately go on to don the Black and Red.