Real Salt Lake selected FW Ricky Lopez-Espin with the 33rd overall pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft after trading the club’s first round pick (10th overall) to the Chicago Fire in exchange for $85,000 in General Allocation Money.
“It’s a childhood dream come true and I can’t be more thankful,” Lopez-Espin said. “I’m going to give everything I can to the club. They gave me the opportunity. I’m excited to win. I love winning and I look forward to playing in front of their passionate fans.”
Lopez-Espin, 22, played four years at Creighton University, scoring 30 goals to go with seven assists in 74 appearances, 61 of them in a starting role. That includes a standout season of 12 goals in 18 matches during his senior season. Prior to college, he was USSDA’s leading scorer in his final season at Shattuck St. Mary’s when he scored 21 goals in the 2013-14 season.
“We’ve actually watched Ricky for quite a while. I actually scouted him when I was coaching college,” RSL General Manager Craig Waibel said. “We like his size and athleticism. His touch on the ball for being as big as he is quite impressive. We are looking for him to transition into the pro game.”
Originally, RSL held the 10th overall pick, but traded the selection to the Fire for General Allocation Money – which is money that a club can use in addition to its salary budget. After already signing Real Salt Lake Academy products Aaron Herrera (University of New Mexico) and Corey Baird(Stanford University), RSL now has three incoming college standouts to bolster the roster.
“We feel that we got our No. 1 and No. 2 pick already. Aaron Herrera is a top-three pick in this draft this year and Corey Baird is a first-round draft pick and we got them as Homegrowns,” Real Salt Lake Head Coach Mike Petke said. “We were looking for one or two players that if they fell through to our position we would have taken and they were drafted already. We got some general allocation money and we are very happy with Corey Baird and Aaron Herrera.”
Real Salt Lake will conclude the SuperDraft on Sunday with two picks in the third round (51st and 56th overall) and fourth round (79th overall).