1815_isi_donovanconor_usmntu20mj071814198 Michael Janosz/isiphotos.com
MLS SuperDraft

Conor Donovan Signs Generation Adidas Contract

Major League Soccer signed its fifth Generation Adidas player Thursday—six-foot-two defender Conor Donovan, who will miss the MLS Combine because he is playing with the U-20 national team in Jamaica.
BY Brooke Tunstall Posted
January 08, 2015
11:17 AM

When Tab Ramos announced the roster for the U.S. Under-20 national team earlier this week, North Carolina State freshman Conor Donovan was the only current collegiate player listed. But that is no longer the case as Donovan, a six-foot-two central defender, has agreed to terms with Major League Soccer on a Generation Adidas deal, American Soccer Now has confirmed.

Donovan’s signing was first reported by Top Drawer Soccer.

Donovan is the fifth Generation Adidas signing this winter and the third American among the group, joining Syracuse goalkeeper Alex Bono and Washington midfielder Cristian Roldan. The others are Connecticut forward Cyle Larin, a Canadian, and Central Florida forward Romario Williams, a Jamaican.

“He’s going to be a pro for a long, long time,” said N.C. State coach Kelly Findley. “He reads the game really well and is a real student of the game. He’s very vocal and a good leader.”

Donovan’s father, Tom, said his son has always been a student of the game. “He just took to it right away when he started playing at about five years old,” he said. “His sister (Caitlin, a junior on UNC-Charlotte’s team) played, still plays, and soccer was everywhere in our house growing up. This is what he’s always wanted to do.”

Before coming to State, Findley coached at Butler, where for three seasons he coached current F.C. Dallas center back Matt Hedges, who has emerged as one of the top young defenders in MLS.

“They have some things in common. Both are very strong, very good in the air,” said Findley. “Matt is bigger and probably a little more athletic. But Conor is much more advanced for this age than Matt was in terms of reading the game and organizing defenses. Matt has probably grown into that after being in MLS for awhile, but Connor already has that.”

A product of the U.S. U-17 national team’s residency program in Bradenton, Fla., Donovan was recruited by several of the top college programs in the country but ultimately chose to go to school in Raleigh, a short drive from his home in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. In his one year of college soccer, Donovan started all 15 games he played, scoring a goal and an assist and helping a young Wolfpack team post a 1.20 goals-against-average.

Because of his participation with the U-20 team, Donovan, who will be the youngest player in next week’s draft, will not be at the league’s scouting combine, which begins tomorrow in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Instead, he’ll be part of the team that faces Guatemala Friday in Kingston, Jamaica.

Brooke Tunstall is an American Soccer Now contributing editor and ASN 100 panelist. You can follow him on Twitter.

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