The men’s soccer team should consider itself forewarned: This could develop into some kind of trend.
For the second straight year a Temple men’s soccer player was drafted by a Major League Soccer organization in the league’s supplemental draft held late last month.
Senior midfielder Tony Donatelli had his name called by the Houston 1836, who selected him with the 32d overall pick. He was the eighth pick of the third round.
Last year former Temple goaltender Patrick Hannigan was drafted in the third round by the MetroStars, who play out of New Jersey.
After leading the Owls last season with 17 points, six goals and five assists, Donatelli caught the eyes of numerous clubs by scoring a goal at this year’s MLS combine. Donatelli said the combine’s high talent level made scoring hard to come by.
Along with his stellar career at Temple, Donatelli led the Philadelphia Soccer Seven in scoring each of the last two seasons. He leaves his collegiate soccer career with the intra-city league’s 2005 Player of the Year award.
But Donatelli said nothing could top having his name called last month at the MLS draft. That was something he called “a dream.”
“I am really excited about [being drafted] and [I’m] grateful for the opportunity,” Donatelli said last week in a telephone interview. “It’s been a dream of mine to play professionally and now I have that chance and I am hoping to take full advantage of it.”
The 6-foot-1-inch, 175-pound Donatelli is in Houston preparing for a preseason training camp. His coach at Temple, David MacWilliams, described Donatelli as “a technical player,” who with hard work has the skills to compete on the professional level.
A former pro indoor soccer player, MacWilliams said that professional teams often look for speed. Though Donatelli lacks swiftness, he makes up for it with his other attributes, Donatelli said.
“The biggest [weakness] of my game is speed,” Donatelli said in agreement with his coach. “I think I am very technical. And I think they also need those types of players in this league. They need things that can be done with the ball and then they need other guys with the speed, so they need both types of players.”
Donatelli acknowledged that speed is something he plans to work on as he makes the transition from a collegiate team to the professional ranks.
Donatelli described the process as “more mental right now than physical, to get prepared.”
MacWilliams said he believes Donatelli will be able to make a rather smooth transition.
“His knowledge of the game is real good,” said MacWilliams, who coached Donatelli for four years. “He’s got great technical ability. He can hit [the ball] with either foot, and his tactical sense and awareness on the field is tremendous.
“I think he reads the game really well and he has a passion for the game.”
Donatelli will be practicing with Houston players like former MLS all-star defender Wade Barrett and goalkeeper Pat Onstad, a former team defensive player of the year.
Donatelli will also get to play under coach Dominic Kinnear, who won league coach of the year honors last season when his team posted an MLS-best 18-4 record. Before being relocated, the 1836 were based out of San Jose.
Donatelli said he spoke with Kinnear after the draft and said Kinnear told him what was expected of him during the team’s preseason training camp. Donatelli said he doesn’t want to let down his new coaches and teammates.
Though Donatelli has not yet been officially signed to the 1836, he said he expects the team to make its decision at the conclusion of training camp, about three weeks from now.
The midfielder said he is aware that there “is no guarantee,” that he will make the team, but he remained confident.
“I am just going to work hard and hope that I get a spot on the team and give them whatever they need,” he said.
Jabari Young can be reached at email@example.com.