Center back Stefan Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson) became the first player in Valparaiso men’s soccer history to be drafted into Major League Soccer on Tuesday, as he was selected with the fifth pick of the third round of the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft by Sporting Kansas City.
“This is a dream come true, especially for me,” said Antonijevic. “My life has been about soccer as long as I can remember, and I’ve been working towards the goal of having the chance to play professionally for a long time. To be faced with that opportunity today truly is a blessing. As a soccer player, you can’t ask for anything better than to go to a well-supported club with a history of success, and Sporting KC is like that. Their fans are passionate about their team, and I can’t wait to see that passion for myself.”
“We’re very proud of Stefan for being our first pick into MLS,” said Valparaiso head coach Mike Avery. “We think he will be the first of many to come in the future, and he’s a great representative of what our program aspires to be. I’m really most proud of the person that Stefan has become over his time here, watching him mature both on and off the field.”
Antonijevic played three years for the Crusaders from 2009-2011, earning Second Team All-Horizon League honors in each of his first two years while playing in the midfield. This past season, as a senior, he moved back to center back and earned Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year honors as well as being selected to the All-League First Team and the NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region First Team. Antonijevic anchored a back line which surrendered a school record-low 14 goals in 20 games and won the Horizon League regular season championship.
“Even though he was a supplemental pick, I think Stefan has a good shot to making Sporting KC’s main roster,” said Avery. “He’s got all the tools to succeed at the next level – not just his size and his athleticism, but the fact that first and foremost he is a very good soccer player.”
Sporting Kansas City, previously known as Kansas City Wizards, are one of ten charter clubs of MLS, having competed in the league since its inception in 1996. Sporting KC won the MLS Cup in 2000 and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2004. This past season, Sporting KC finished the MLS regular season atop the Eastern Conference table and advanced to the semifinals of the MLS Cup.