VANCOUVER Whitecaps FC selected five players in the final two rounds of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft on Tuesday, including local midfielder/striker Jovan Blagojevic from Simon Fraser University with their first pick of the third round (54th overall).
The club also selected striker Adam Montague (58th overall), goalkeeper Spencer Richey (61st overall), defender Craig Nitti (72nd overall), and Canadian defender Nikola Paunic (74th overall).
Blagojevic, who Whitecaps FC selected with their first third-round pick (54th overall), spent the last four seasons with the Simon Fraser University (SFU) Clan. SFU is the only Canadian university competing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The 23-year-old midfielder/striker is coming off a spectacular senior season, leading the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) with 18 goals in 18 games. He also scored a conference-high seven game-winning goals and led SFU to their third consecutive national tournament appearance.
Blagojevic, who was born in Serbia before moving to British Columbia at the age of two, was named the 2014 West Region Player of the Year and GNAC Player of the Year in addition to earning second team All-American honours. He ended his GNAC career fifth on the conference all-time points list with 90 and tied for fifth in goals scored with 38.
Montague, who Whitecaps FC selected with their second third-round pick (58th overall), spent the last four seasons with the Michigan State University Spartans. The 22-year-old striker recorded 23 goals and 21 assists in 77 total appearances.
Among his accolades at Michigan State include All-Big Ten second team honours in 2011, 2013, and 2014 – in addition an All-Big Ten first team nod in 2012, when he was also named the offensive player of the tournament at the Big Ten Tournament.
The Sylvania, Ohio native captained Michigan State during his junior and senior seasons.
Richey, who Whitecaps FC selected with their final third-round pick (61st overall), spent the last five years with the University of Washington – he was a medical redshirt in 2013 after breaking his leg early in the season.
This past season, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound goalkeeper allowed just 22 goals in 17 appearances, leading the University of Washington to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the second straight season. In total, Richey conceded just 65 goals and posted 30 clean sheets over 71 total appearances at the University of Washington.
A native of Seattle, Washington, Richey is a former U.S. U-20 and U-17 international who participated in the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup. He also spent a year with Portland Timbers U-23 of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL).
Nitti, who Whitecaps FC selected with their first fourth-round pick (72nd overall), spent the last four seasons at Loyola Marymount University (LMU). In total, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound centre back appeared in 70 matches at LMU, contributing 11 goals and four assists.
This past season, Nitti anchored an LMU back line that posted nine clean sheets and a 0.68 goals against average on the season, conceding just four goals in conference play. For his efforts, the California native received All-West Coast Conference first-team and All-Far West Region second team honours.
Nitti was a member of Portland Timbers U-23 in the summer of 2013.
Paunic, who Whitecaps FC selected with their final pick (74th overall), spent the last two seasons at the University of South Florida (USF) after transferring from the University of Toronto. The 6-foot-3 centre back, who has previously represented the Canadian U-20 side, started 40 of his 41 appearances with USF and was named to the American Athletic Conference All-Tournament Team this past season.
Born in Podgorica, Montenegro, Paunic is a Canadian citizen who served as team captain for Toronto FC’s academy for two seasons.
Pronunciation: yo-van blah-go-ye-vich
Weight: 165 pounds
Date of Birth: April 6, 1991 in Belgrade, Serbia
Hometown: Coquitlam, British Columbia
Last Club: Simon Fraser University
How Acquired: Selected 54th overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by Whitecaps FC
Weight: 185 pounds
Date of Birth: October 16, 1992 in Sylvania, Ohio
Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
Citizenship: United States
Last Club: Michigan State University
How Acquired: Selected 58th overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by Whitecaps FC
Weight: 195 pounds
Date of Birth: May 30, 1992 in Seattle, Washington
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Citizenship: United States
Last Club: University of Washington
How Acquired: Selected 61st overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by Whitecaps FC
Weight: 220 pounds
Date of Birth: January 19, 1992 in Van Nuys, California
Hometown: Calabasas, California
Citizenship: United States / Italy
Last Club: Loyola Marymount University
How Acquired: Selected 72nd overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by Whitecaps FC
Weight: 190 pounds
Date of Birth: October 13, 1993 in Podgorica, Montenegro
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Last Club: University of South Florida
How Acquired: Selected 74th overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by Whitecaps FC