2018 MLS Draft: Los Angeles FC Goes Defensive With Joao Moutinho, Tristan Blackmon
Los Angeles FC went into the 2018 MLS Draft already understanding the basic knowledge to succeed. Defense wins championships. In just their first season and their first-ever draft, Los Angeles set the foundation for their future with two picks in the first three selections. With the No. 1 pick, Los Angeles FC drafted Joao Moutinho from the University of Akron. With their next selection via trade, Los Angeles chose another defender in Tristan Blackmon. What these moves provide Los Angeles with is the opportunity to make a name for themselves on the most important end of the field. Moutinho spearheaded a tough Akron defense that only surrendered 14 goals on 77 shot attempts on the season.
With only one season of college under his belt, Moutinho still earned Freshman of the Year honors from TopDrawerSoccer, USC First Team-American, and USC First Team All-Great Lakes Region. However, the accolades didn’t stop there. he would also go on to be named First Team All-Mid Conference, and Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year. Moutinho is not known for his scoring as he only scored three times while assisting on 5. After he was selected, Moutinho had this to say to the Los Angeles FC fans:
“Wherever the coach wants me to play, that’s where I’ll play,” Moutinho said. “I’ll give my best every single day no matter the position. Getting knowledge of the game and playing against some tough opponents, I’m thankful for my journey. It definitely helped growing as a player and as a person. The most important thing is the team. I’ll do whatever they need me to do.”
With their next selection in the 2018 MLS Draft, Los Angeles FC decided to keep the defensive trend going with Blackmon out of the University of Pacific. Blackmon, in four years at Pacific also became one of the top defenders in the country with his hard-nosed play. In 2017, Blackmon was named West Coast Conference Defender of the Year, USC First Team All-Far West Region, and First Team All-West Coast Conference. While labeled as a top defender, the 6-1 Las Vegas, Nevada resident also scored 16 goals during his collegiate career while assisting on 9. Head coach Bob Bradley had this to say about Blackmon after the selection:
“Tristan is a really interesting one. He’s from Las Vegas, he’s grown a lot at the University of the Pacific, and we feel he is someone who, at the next level, will show people that something is there,”
With the picks in, Los Angeles will look forward to seeing what their top draft picks will do once the season opens LAFC March 4 against Seattle.