Austin FC chose Virginia Tech midfielder Daniel Pereira with the No. 1 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft on Thursday.
Expansion Austin FC's choice sparked some surprise as many draft experts were pegging Clemson midfielder Philip Mayaka as the top pick.
In fact, Pereira said he was surprised to be the first selection of the three-round draft.
"I wasn't really expecting to be No. 1 because of all the mock drafts," Pereira said. "It's an honor. I'm really happy. My family is crying. It's a moment I'll never forget."
FC Cincinnati chose second and picked Wake Forest midfielder Calvin Harris. The aforementioned Mayaka went third overall to the Colorado Rapids.
The Venezuelan-born Pereira had six goals and six assists in 26 matches over two seasons for Virginia Tech.
Austin FC coach Josh Wolff said Pereira was a good fit for the team's approach.
"For the way we want to play, we felt he fit a lot of the needs we'll expect in that part of the field," Wolff said.
Harris had 10 goals and five assists in 32 matches over two seasons at Wake Forest. He is expected to eventually provide an offensive boost for FC Cincinnati.
"I just want to learn and improve and my confidence will come with that," Harris said. "That's what I'm looking forward to doing coming into Cincinnati."
The Rapids moved up in the draft to select Mayaka with the third overall selection. Colorado traded the sixth overall pick and $200,000 in general allocation money to the Houston Dynamo to acquire the choice.
Mayaka had two goals and eight assists in 32 games over two seasons for Clemson, but was scoreless in 10 matches during the 2020 season.
"Philip is an explosive midfield talent who's demonstrated great ability on both sides of the ball," Colorado general manager Padraig Smith said. "We've shown our commitment to developing young players and believe Philip has the qualities to thrive in this league."
D.C. United had the fourth and fifth picks. The club chose another Clemson player in forward Kimarni Smith with the fourth pick and then chose another Wake Forest player, defender Michael DeShields, at No. 5.
Houston selected Washington defender Ethan Bartlow with the sixth pick, and Real Salt Lake chose Virginia defender Bret Halsey at No. 7.
Orlando City chose forward Derek Dodson (Georgetown), Vancouver selected forward David Egbo (Akron) and Inter Miami CF tabbed forward Josh Penn (Indiana) to round out the top 10 picks.
--Field Level Media