Union take Penn's Brandt, Princeton's Hoppenot in Supplemental Draft

The Union selected Penn's Thomas Brandt in the first round of the Supplemental Draft. (Photo courtesy of Penn Athletics)

The Union took Penn defender and team captain Thomas Brandt with the first of their four selections in this year's Supplemental Draft.

Brandt is a native of Palmyra, Pa., near Harrisburg. He attended Palmyra Area High School before coming down the Pennsylvania Turnpike for college. The center back was a first team all-Ivy selection in his junior and senior seasons.

"Just to play professional soccer is something I've always wanted," Brandt told me. "But to go to a team that I've followed since they started in MLS, that has been the team I've watched the most, it's an unbelievable opportunity that's been presented to me."

In the second round, the Union selected Marist forward Krystian Witkowski. The Rochester, N.Y., native played for Poland's Under-18 national team at one point, which I suspect might have gotten Peter Nowak's attention. 

In the third round, the Union picked up Princeton forward Antoine Hoppenot. As you all know, I profiled him before the SuperDraft last week. You can read that story here.

Coincidentally, Penn's Christian Barreiro was selected by the New York Red Bulls with the pick right before the Union drafted Hoppenot. It so happens that Barreiro is a member of the River End. I wonder if the Red Bulls knew that.

(I could get into the Penn-Princeton rivalry dynamics too, but I'll spare you that for now.)

By the time I talked to Barreiro, he was ready to move on from the team he supported to the team that drafted him.

"I love the New York Red Bulls organization," Barreiro said. "I'm really excited to get started with them next week and embrace the experience."

This will be the first season in a while that Barreiro and Brandt aren't playing for the same team. In addition to having played - and lived - together at Penn, they were teammates on the Baltimore Casa Mia Bays club team and in ODP Region I.

"I'm really happy that [Brandt] got the pick from the Union," Barreiro said. "I have played with him for a number of years now and he's such a competitor."

Penn coach Rudy Fuller couldn't hide his delight at seeing two of his players drafted in one year for the first time in Quakers history. But he said he prides himself as much on the character of his players as on their talents.

"We just want to produce good kids and good pros that people want in their programs," Fuller said. "Guys that coaches want on their teams."

Fuller has quietly steered his program to the upper echelons of college soccer in recent years. Over the last six years, Penn's season-ending rank in the RPI index - it's the same formula that's used for basketball - has been 68.83.

If the Quakers' men's basketball team had been at that level, those of you who follow college hoops would certainly know about it.

(That's also a discussion for another day. Indeed, it's a discussion for another blog entirely. But you might have heard it's a subject I know a few things about.)

The Ivy League as a whole has been strong in recent times. Over the same six-year period, the Ancient Eight's top team in the RPI has finished the season with an average ranking of 18.83. That's been Brown three times, Dartmouth twice and Harvard once. So there hasn't just been one strong program. 

It's not easy to balance pursuit of an Ivy League education with pursuit of a career in professional sports. But Fuller says the league's success in recent years shows it can be done.

"You don't have to sacrifice one to get the other," Fuller said. "The top two or three teams in our league can compete with anybody." 

The Union made one more selection on the day. In the fourth round, they Union selected Santa Clara midfielder Brandon Zimmerman. In addition to being a key player on one of the better teams in college soccer last season, he is the brother of recent newsmaker Preston Zimmerman.

Preston, who played for the U.S. Under-20 national team at one point, made headlines last month for a Twitter rant regarding Jurgen Klinsmann's player selection policy. 

In addition to Barreiro, a few other players with local ties were selected in the Supplemental Draft.

The first was Delaware forward Evans Frimpong, taken by the Chicago Fire with the ninth pick in the first round.

In the third round, New England picked up Villanova defender Kevin Garcia, and Montréal picked up Colgate forward Steven Miller, an Ivyland native who attended Council Rock North.

In the fourth round, Vancouver selected Penn State defender Mark Fetrow, a West Chester native who attended West Chester Henderson.

The full list of Supplemental Draft selections is here.