Another Cal Men’s Soccer alum may be joining Major League Soccer soon. Recent graduate Sam Junqua was the 8th overall pick by the Houston Dynamo in the 2019 MLS Draft on Friday afternoon. The Cal defender was the team leader in minutes in 2018. He also joins a relatively long list of Cal players being selected in the 1st round of the Super Draft in recent years - Steve Birnbaum at 2nd overall by the DC United and Christian Dean at 3rd overall by the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2014 as well as Connor Hallisey was the 10th overall pick by the Sporting Kansas City in 2015.
Cal also has had more players selected in the later rounds of the MLS Super Draft in recent years (Christian Theirjung 2 years ago, Joshua Morton last year), but they did not make the MLS rosters.
At #8, @HoustonDynamo choose defender Sam Junqua out of @CalMSoc. #SuperDraft pic.twitter.com/s842m09DWY— Major League Soccer (@MLS) January 11, 2019
Here are some video highlights of Junqua from the Pac-12 Network.
.@HoustonDynamo fans say hello to Sam Junqua out of @CalMSoc. #BackThePac pic.twitter.com/JNw2JcCDat— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) January 11, 2019
Below is more info from the Cal Men’s Soccer release:
RELEASE: Junqua Picked No. 8 Overall In MLS SuperDraft https://t.co/uSAG5pv4gK #CalMSoc #CalFamily— Cal Men's Soccer (@CalMSoc) January 11, 2019
Junqua, an All-Pac-12 honorable mention pick as a senior, was the anchor of the Bears’ defense and led the team with 1,666 minutes played. He had nine shots and an assist and was the Bears’ primary option on corner kicks.
”Sam being drafted eighth overall in the MLS draft culminates a great four-year career for him,” Cal head coach Kevin Grimes said. “He came to Cal looking to improve his game and gave himself an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of many other Cal players drafted in the first round over the years.”
Junqua becomes the seventh former Golden Bear to be drafted in the top-10 of the MLS SuperDraft and the highest since Steve Birnbaum went No. 2 and Christian Dean No. 3 in 2014.
”Sam has a great opportunity in Houston, who plays a really good brand of soccer, to continue to grow and have an excellent career as a professional,” Grimes said.
Fellow Cal alum Shinya Kadono, the reigning Pac-12 leading goal scorer, may hear his name called on Monday during the MLS Superdraft’s round 3 and 4.