Even for draft day, Michigan State had an inordinate amount of success. Having one player go professional in a day is a success for most teams; another player to put on the “Wall of Fame” and show recruits what they could become. The Spartans had two players officially go from player to picture on the wall, as Jay Chapman and Fatai Alashe turned pro yesterday.
Alashe will be headed out west to San Jose after the Earthquakes gambled on the senior midfielder with the fourth pick in the MLS SuperDraft. Although Alashe went higher than many expected, the Earthquakes never thought about anyone else. They were in dire need of a defensive specialist, and Alashe was the best in the draft.
A high pick comes with a lot of pressure, and while there is no guarantee of immediate game-time action, Alashe faces little competition. As San Jose has such a dearth of defensive midfielders, the Earthquakes will be ready to polish and display their new trophy midfielder for all to marvel at.
The now-former Spartan put together another impressive year in 2014, and received numerous awards. A player who is never out of position and has great intangibles, Alashe should be able to step right in, transitioning smoothly into the next level.
Asked about his future in the MLS, Alashe set his sights on another accolade, the prestigious MLS All Star selection.
Alashe will be joined in the league by MAC Hermann semifinalist, Chapman, who signed his first professional contract with Toronto FC. As a homegrown player (one who came up through the youth ranks of the team), Chapman was not drafted, but his promotion is equally impressive.
Chapman has a nice trophy shelf himself, and was the first MSU First Team All-American since 1970. Smart and skilled, Chapman can drive at a defense before deciding the right course of action, and is always aware of the runs being made by teammates.
Chapman was just a junior, but it is no shock that he was picked up before he finished his four years. Chapman has been monitored by teams in multiple countries, and impressed scouts when he helped Canada’s U-17 squad to the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
Chapman will not break into the first team immediately, but has promising potential and the ability to become a name known by pundits of the pitch in a couple of years.
Toronto will get a player who can change the tone of a game and create chances, for himself and others, that other players could not even perceive. Chapman gets an opportunity to impress for his long-time club and make his country proud.
For the Spartans, it is a bittersweet moment. Both MSU prospects have contributed significantly and are now fulfilling their dreams, but men’s soccer head coach Damon Rensing has the impossible task of replacing both. However, their future success may pave the road for Spartan soccer to break through into the nation’s elite.
Adam Montague will hope to be called upon Friday as the SuperDraft continues, and join his teammates in the big leagues. Regardless, the Spartans will be represented well over the next few years.
Isaac Constans is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports
Photo: Hannah McEnroe/Impact Sports