With the fifth-overall selection in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, Columbus Crew SC pick defender Lalas Abubakar out of the University of Dayton.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound center back was a three-year contributor, playing 61 gamesm starting 60, scoring four goals and registering six assists.
Head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter said before the draft that he wanted to find players that could contribute this year and that’s what he believes he’s got with Abubakar.
“With Lalas, he’s a very competitive guy,” Berhalter said. “A lot of resiliency, very physically strong. We expect him to help out on the back line.”
In 2014, Abubakar was named Third Team NSCAA All-Midwest Region and Second Team All-Ohio. He was also named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team, UAB All-Tournament Team as well as the Dayton Defensive Player of the Year.
He was part of a Flyers defense that recorded seven shutouts and posted a 0.89 goals against average as a sophomore.
As a junior in 2015, Abubakar was First Team NSCAA All-Midwest Region, First Team All-Ohio, First Team Atlantic 10 All-Conference Team and once again named the Dayton Defensive Player of the Year. He was also on the Academic All-Ohio team.
Perhaps most impressively, Abubakar only picked up one card through 23 games played during his junior season.
In his final year of college, Abubakar was Second Team NSCAA All-Midwest Region, First Team Atlantic 10 All-Conference and the Atlantic 10 Conference Defender of the Year.
The Ghanian joins his countrymen on the back line in Columbus right back Harrison Afful and newly signed center back Jonathan Mensah. He becomes the fifth defensive addition for Crew SC this offseason, after the Black & Gold conceded 58 goals in 2016.
“I want to thank Columbus Crew SC for believing in me and then giving me a great opportunity,” Akubakar said at the podium after his selection. “I really appreciate it and I can’t wait to start with the club.”
Gregg Berhalter will be available for a conference call later and Massive Report will have more information following the chance to speak with the Crew SC boss.