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Gorman product, former UNLV player picked in MLS draft

Updated January 19, 2018 - 3:05 pm

The University of the Pacific hadn’t played soccer in 29 years when Tristan Blackmon stepped on campus in 2014.

The Bishop Gorman graduate wasted no time in rebuilding the Tigers program though, with his stellar play putting the team and himself back on the soccer map. The proof came Friday when expansion team Los Angeles FC traded up to take Blackmon third overall in the 2018 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, as the defender became the first draft pick in school history.

He was one of two locals to be taken in the draft, as former Liberty High and UNLV forward Danny Musovski was taken 30th overall by the San Jose Earthquakes.

“It’s amazing. I’m just honored to be able to go to the team and be part of the new atmosphere over there,” Blackmon, 21, said in an MLS video. “I’m ready to go.”

Pacific stopped playing men’s soccer in 1985 but revived the program before Blackmon’s freshman year in 2014. A position switch from forward to left back as a junior paid dividends, as the Tigers made back-to-back NCAA tournaments his final two seasons and he was named the West Coast Conference Defender of the Year in 2017.

It was enough to catch the eye of former U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley, who is now leading LAFC in its first MLS season. After the team took Akron defender João Moutinho with the first pick, LAFC gave up $100,000 of general allocation money and $100,000 of targeted allocation money (strategic funds used in MLS) to get the No. 3 pick from D.C. United and secure Blackmon.

“Tristan is a really interesting one,” Bradley said in an MLS video. “He’s from Las Vegas. He’s grown a lot at the University of (the) Pacific. We really feel that this is somebody that at the next level is going to show people that there’s a lot there.”

While Blackmon was taken quickly in the draft, Musovski had to wait until the second round to hear his name called despite ranking third in career points (117) and goals (47) with the Rebels. He is still is tied for being the highest UNLV player taken in the draft along with midfielder Victor Arbelaez, who was also taken by San Jose with the 30th pick in 2005.

“I was pretty anxious waiting for my name to be called but when they eventually called my name it was a big relief,” Musovski said. “I’m just ready to go there and show them what I can do.”

Musovski now has his work cut out for him to make the team and avoid an unwelcome Nevada homecoming. The Earthquakes are affiliated with Reno 1868 FC of the United Soccer League, so he could return to his home state if he fails to make the first-team roster.

”I was hoping for the first round but he’s got to do the work either way,” UNLV coach Rich Ryerson said. “I think it’s a good fit. They’ve got a new coaching staff and Danny’s actually been to their training sessions and they know who he is and they wanted him.”

UNLV in the MLS SuperDraft

2018: Danny Musovski, F, 30th overall by the San Jose Earthquakes

2016: Bradley Kamdem, D, 58th overall by the Colorado Rapids

2015: Sal Bernal, F, 70th overall by Toronto FC

2006: Rod Dyachenko, MF, 31st overall by D.C. United

2005: Victor Arbelaez, MF, 30th overall by the San Jose Earthquakes

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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