Brentwood's Jean-Baptiste drafted by MLS's Portland
The Portland Timbers selected former Brentwood soccer star Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Newsday’s 2009 Long Island Player of the Year, with the No. 8 pick in Wednesday’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft held in Kansas City.
“It’s very exciting,” said Jean-Baptiste, 19, who left UConn after two seasons. He named All-Big East first team and the 2011 Big East defensive Player of the Year this season, playing every minute of every game and anchoring a Connecticut defense that allowed just 10 goals in 25 games. He had two goals and an assist for the Huskies, who set a program record with 16 shutouts this season.
As a member of Generation adidas, Jean-Baptiste will receive a five-year contract with an educational component to cover the cost of completing college in a pre-negotiated time period. Terms of the deal are pending.
Jean-Baptiste said he was “shocked” to be chosen by Portland but had seen various mock drafts. He did not have a chance to speak with Portland coach John Spencer or GM Gavin Wilkinson until after being drafted but was quite pleased with what they told him.
“I got a chance to speak to them after I got drafted and they told me I was their number one choice,” an excited Jean-Baptiste said.
Brentwood coach Ron Eden is in Kansas City for the annual NSCAA convention and was able to congratulate his former All-American defender in person. Eden said Jean-Baptiste is among the best players he’s ever coached and recalled one of his finer moments in high school.
“We were playing against Sachem one game. He got so high for a header his feet were higher than the head of the player he was jumping against,” Eden said. “When he went up I was like ‘oh my God I’ve never seen a player get up so high.’ You don’t see kids do that every day. That’s the one thing that stuck out in the three years that I had him. That was pure athleticism.”
Added Jean-Baptiste, “When I walked out I saw him, gave him a big hug and gave a shout out to Brentwood.”
Brentwood won a state championship and was recognized as national champions in 2008, Jean-Baptiste’s junior year. The Indians lost in the state finals in 2009.
Eden said Jean-Baptiste’s success will serve as an inspiration to the Brentwood soccer community.
“It shows kids that here’s a kid that came from Brentwood,” Eden said. “It’s great. When I get back and I see the kids I’m going to tell them it’s one guy of the last 3,000 kids that I coached to make it.”