D.C. United today announced that the club has selected University of California defender Steven Birnbaum with the 2nd overall selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. Birnbaum, a fifth year senior, is United’s lone selection from today’s event in Philadelphia and will join the Black-and-Red in the nation’s capital after an All-American campaign at California. United traded its first overall pick to the Philadelphia Union in exchange for the second overall selection and allocation money.
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An Irvine, Calif., native, the defensive standout made an immediate impact for the Golden Bears during his freshman season, seeing action in 17 games while starting eight of them, a school record at the time. His sophomore year he started and played in 20 games, career highs, for the Bears tallying one goal while finishing fourth on the team with five assists. Named a co-captain during his junior campaign, Birnbaum earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 First Team after starting 16 games and tallying one goal. The centerback also won a silver medal with the U.S. team in the 2012 Pan Am Maccabi Games in Brazil. Heading into his senior season, the defender was named preseason All-American by College Soccer News, but had to redshirt due to injury after two games. Coming off the injury in 2013, Birnbaum saw tremendous success as he was named one of three team captains and finished the season with 19 starts in central defense while leading the team in goals scored (10) and recorded one assist. For his efforts, he was named NSCAA First Team All-American, NSCAA First Team All-Far-West, College Soccer News First Team All-American, All-Pac-12 First Team, Soccer News Net College Boot Player of the Year Finalist and a Missouri Athletic Club (MAC) Hermann Trophy Semifinalist.
“Steve has all the tools to have a long career as a professional,” said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper. “He reads the game very well, has a dominant aerial game, makes intelligent decisions with the ball and is a ferocious competitor. We congratulate Steve and welcome him to the Black-and-Red.”
“I’m looking forward to watching Steve grow to be a starter in this league,” said D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen. “Physically and mentally he is ready for the pro game and possesses love for defending that centerbacks need.”
In 2008, Birnbaum competed for the U.S. U-18 and U.S. U-20 national team squads in Portugal and Mexico and was also a finalist in the 2008 Milk Cup, facing Manchester United in the final. The centerback was named to the Southern California Starting XI for the USSF Development Academy, and for nine years was the captain of the premier team for the Irvine Strikers and Pateadores.