PHILADELPHIA – The LA Galaxy added to their center back depth on Thursday by drafting New Mexico defender Kyle Venter with the 23rd overall selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
Venter was a four-year starter with the Lobos and ended his illustrious college career as school’s all-time leader in minutes played as well as the only player in school history to make an All-American team three times. The 22-year-old is also the ninth defender selected by Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena in the last six years and will join an LA center back corps that includes Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, Kofi Opare, and Tommy Meyer.
“It’s an amazing day and I couldn’t be happier,” Venter told LAGalaxy.com. “I’ll get to play with world class players like Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane and I’ll hopefully get to use them as resources, I just can’t wait…I’m excited to learn from the [defenders] that [Bruce Arena] has already cultivated like [Omar Gonzalez] because it is going to be an unbelievable experience.”
The Galaxy head coach was first alerted to Venter by new team assistant Kenny Arena, who coached against the draft pick in October while serving as head coach of Florida International University. In that match, Venter shined defensively and aided in the game-winning sequence as the Lobos defeated the Golden Panthers 2-1 in overtime. After Venter put forth a strong showing at the 2014 adidas MLS Players Combine, Arena grew captivated with the center back and made no qualms about picking him when LA’s lone draft choice of the evening came up.
“He’s a big, strong center back and athletically he’s good in the air. He’s going to give us depth in that center back position,” Arena said after selection. “We were well aware of him before the draft and quite honestly, didn’t think that he was going to be around, so we’re pleased to get him.”
In 2014, Venter will have a chance to hone his skills under the tutelage of Gonzalez, but his connections to the 2012 MLS Cup MVP do not end there. After a successful high school career with Smoky Hill High in Colorado, Venter was heavily recruited by Gonzalez’s alma mater Maryland to serve as his heir apparent while the Galaxy stalwart was preparing to declare for the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. Although Venter eventually opted for New Mexico, he may fill in for the defender if he’s named to the U.S. National Team roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup this summer.
“We think that with Omar likely to be at the World Cup, we’re going to need cover at that position,” said Arena. “There’s certainly going to be competition [at center back] … There’s going to be competition for a lot of spots this year.”
Later this month, Venter will get to work on carving out a spot in a deep Galaxy roster once the club opens up preseason training, but for now, he’s simply planning to bask in the glow of the realization of a dream to become a professional soccer player
“I’m just excited to get to [Southern California] and meet the guys when I get there,” Venter said. “I can’t wait to get started and make this next step as a professional. I couldn’t be happier coming to L.A.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com