Two rounds, 19 teams, 38 players selected and two from Highlands Ranch. That’s the makeup of the 2013 Major League Soccer Superdraft.
Longtime best friends Drew Beckie, who attended Arapahoe High School, and Taylor Kemp have spent the last four years honing their skills at their respective colleges — Beckie at the University of Denver and Kemp at the University of Maryland — but this week each is in Orlando beginning his first week of training camp as a professional soccer player.
The two defensemen, who played club soccer together at Real Colorado throughout their high school careers, were both selected in the Jan. 17 Superdraft. Kemp was taken 17th overall by D.C. United and Beckie was plucked 28th by the Columbus Crew.
“This is a common ground that we’ve always shared and for it to materialize for both of us on the same day is just a dream come true for both of us,” said Kemp, who led Mountain Vista to the 2007 state championship and was named to the All-American Freshman team his first year at Maryland.
The two, who stayed in touch on a weekly basis throughout college, have a friendship that runs deep. Their girlfriends are roommates at Colorado State, and when it came time to head to the draft combine, they traveled together and hung out daily.
“To go through this with him, it’s just been a total blessing,” Kemp said. “We’ve been able to support each other and bounce ideas off each other, to keep each other level-headed. When I saw him drafted I was just so happy. He is an unbelievable kid and he deserves everything that is coming to him. I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do.”
Neither player knows exactly what their respective roles in the pros will be, but both are ready to step on the pitch when their number gets called.
“Getting drafted was cool, and I’m glad I got to be in Indianapolis to experience it firsthand, but now is when the real work starts,” said Beckie, the Centennial League Player of the Year his senior year at Arapahoe. “I don’t expect to go in and play right away, but I’ll do whatever they need. If they need me, I’ll be ready.”
The two friends never played against one another in college, but Columbus and D.C. will square off twice this year; March 23 in the nation’s capital and April 27 in Ohio. As for a homecoming, Columbus will not travel to Colorado this season, but D.C. will appear July 7 in Commerce City to face the Rapids.
“I’ve already marked it down on my calendar,” Kemp said. “That one will be tons of fun. To have friends and family and everyone come see a game, I already can’t wait.”
D.C. United is coming off an Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2012, while the Columbus Crew was the first team outside of the playoff picture in the East. Kemp trained regularly with United in the offseason while he was at Maryland.