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Austin FC boosts defense with top center back Kipp Keller, two others in MLS SuperDraft

Saint Lousis University's Kipp Keller was selected as Austin FC's first pick in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. (SLU Men's Soccer/Twitter)

Austin FC has signed Generation Adidas center back Kipp Keller as its first pick and the fifth overall pick in their MLS SuperDraft.


Keller was regarded as one of the potential top picks in the SuperDraft, which gives teams the opportunity to bolster their roster with young standouts, including college seniors, Generation Adidas players, and players that waived their college eligibility by signing to go pro since the end of the 2020 college soccer season. It's the same draft that gave Austin starting midfielder Daniel Pereira as the first overall pick last year and has brought MLS greats like Team USA players Daryl Dike and Miles Robinson.

Austin went fifth this year and chose Keller, one of eight top-notch Generation Adidas signees this year. Generation Adidas allows the best of freshman and sophomore classes to sign with MLS through a special contract.

After losing veteran Matt Besler and struggling to find an identity in the center back role, many Austin FC fans are sure to be pleased with Keller, who may be not only the best center back but also one of the best players in the draft.

Dressed in Verde and Black, Keller took a break from celebrating with his ecstatic family members to tell MLS's Suzanne Collins it was a "dream come true" to go pro and sign with Austin FC.

"It feels amazing... I'm just so grateful to be here," Keller said. "I feel like I'm ready to take the jump and I'm grateful that Austin gave me this great opportunity."

Keller played as a sophomore in the spring 2021 season at Saint Louis University and was named the 2021 Atlantic 10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He started in all 2021 games of his sophomore season and helped the team finish in the top-15 of the NCAA goals-against-average (0.81 goals per contest).

Keller earned second-team All American honors after the season and helped lead the team to their first undefeated regular season in 50 years before finishing the season at the NCAA quarterfinal.


With the seventh pick in the second round, Austin armored their defensive line further with Clemson defender Charlie Asensio as their next recruit. Asensio was a solid left back throughout his time with the Tigers, starting in all but three of his 82 matches with the team and helped Clemson win the 2021 National Championships. Asensio was also named to the TopDrawerSoccer.com Postseason Top 100 list and earned Second Team All-ACC honors in 2019 and ACC All-Freshman honors in 2018.

For their final pick in the fifth slot of the third round, Austin FC chose 21-year-old midfielder Michael Knapp from United Soccer League side New York Red Bulls II. Knapp made eight appearances in the 2021 season with the second-tier professional team.

Before the Red Bulls II, Knapp spent two seasons at Montclair State University and was named both the New Jersey Athletic Conferences' Rookie of the Year and Midfielder of the Year, scoring three goals in 35 total appearances.

After promoting midfielder Alex Ring and signing striker Maxi Urruti and Ethan Finlay in the offseason, it's clear that Austin FC was looking for strong defensive potential as the fight for a starting center back remains up in the air.

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