Saad Abdul-Salaam was chosen 12th overall by Sporting Kansas City in the MLS Superdraft, here's everything you need to know about the Akron product.
1. He's incredibly multifaceted. By this, I mean that Abdul-Salaam can play multiple positions. Throughout his career with the Zips, he has played as a wing back, in the midfield and as a forward - all with varying success. It appears that Sporting KC has bought him for this reason and intend to use him as either a right back or left back, both positions in which they have little cover.
2. He stayed all four years at Akron, honing his skills and learning under both Caleb Porter and Jared Embick. While he watched many of his fellow teammates, such as Wil Trapp and Aodhan Quinn, declare for the Superdraft or sign Homegrown contracts.
3. He was a walk-on, initially, for the Zips. The MAC has certainly seen some incredible things from walk-ons this season.
4. He is from Gahanna, Ohio. The Columbus suburb is a hot bed of talent in many sports. Abdul-Salaam's high school team, Gahanna Lincoln, is the same school Trapp went to and the two players led the Golden Lions to a State Championship in 2009. He was also named an All-Ohio Honorable Mention during his senior year.
5. As expected, he has had increasingly more time on the field since walking on his freshman year but saw his most minutes senior year where he started 26 games and registered two goals and six assists. One of those goals was a game-winner.
6. He is certainly not afraid to shoot - his time at forward guarantees that - but his conversion-rate isn't great. This season he took 22 shots and only scored twice. That and the fact that he only has three goals in his entire college career, it is expected that Sporting KC grabbed him for his defensive contributions.
7. His creative game is much sharper. Adbul-Salaam created multiple opportunities a game for the Zips during his tenure at Akron and leaves the program with 12 assists to his name. Many of those could probably be credited to the time that he spent higher up the field, but with multiple fine finishers such as Dom Dwyer and Graham Zusi, Abdul-Salaam could make a huge contribution from the wings in Kansas City.
8. He's physically-imposing. Abdul-Salaam weighed in at 185 pounds at the draft and is recorded at 6-foot-4. Many outside backs are smaller and quicker, meaning they can stretch defenses and really impose themselves on the opposition. It will be interesting to see how he works in professional soccer and if, Sporting KC coach, Peter Vermes looks to push him into a more central role where his height and strength would be very-well used.
9. He has the chance to learn from some great players. Sporting KC has some of the best players in MLS; there's a reason they won the MLS Cup in 2013. The person he has the most to learn from is Matt Besler. Besler went to the 2014 World Cup and had a performance-based coming out party. He was a rock at the back, playing alongside Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez during the group stages. Besler decided to stay in MLS after being courted by a few European teams after his performances in Brazil. This could be one of the best things that could have happened in the development process of Abdul-Salaam.
10. He always seems to appear to be in the right place, at the right time. You can see it when he is on the field and in the way he plays. He always seems to be on one of the wings, either pulling the strings or moving off the ball to try and get a look at goal. Regardless of where he plays, it seems like the former Zip has a huge upside and Sporting KC will be hoping that he can prove it in the early goings of the MLS preseason before regular season play starts on Saturday, March 8. Keep an eye out for him on the Sporting KC roster.
All stats provided by gozips.com