Just over a month ahead of their debut, Charlotte FC selected Maryland midfielder Ben Bender with the No. 1 overall selection in Tuesday's MLS SuperDraft.
Bender was first-team All-American in 2021 and the Big Ten midfielder of the year after amassing seven goals and five assists in 18 games forthe Terrapins.
"Every time there's a new team that enters the league, I think that the whole city is just super excited and ready to go," Bender said after his selection. "I know the fans of Charlotte are going to be itching to see the team win and win right away, and I think that coming into an expansion club is a good scenario for me. I think I have the ability to make an impact, so I'm just really excited to hit the ground running."
Charlotte FC currently have 10 international players on their roster, with Bender giving the club some domestic talent with a budget-friendly general-allocation status.
Bender is the third Maryland product selected with the top pick in the MLS SuperDraft, joining Maurice Edu in 2007 by Toronto FC and Leo Cullen in 1998 by the Miami Fusion.
Charlotte FC will play their first ever MLS regular-season game on Feb. 26 at D.C. United. They will make their home debut in front of what is expected to be a crowd in excess of 70,000 at Bank of America Stadium on March 5 against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
FC Cincinnati had the second pick in Tuesday's draft, and they selected goalkeeper Roman Celentano out of Indiana University, and FC Dallas selected forward Isaiah Parker out of Saint Louis University with the No. 3 pick. The Houston Dynamo selected forward Thorleifur Ulfarsson out of Duke with the No. 4 pick, while Austin FC picked defender Kipp Keller out of Saint Louis at No. 5.
A total of 78 picks were made across three rounds Tuesday, with 11 picks being voluntarily passed over by clubs. The results of the first round:
1. Charlotte FC -- Ben Bender, M, Maryland
2. FC Cincinnati -- Roman Celentano, GK, Indiana
3. FC Dallas -- Isaiah Parker, F, Saint Louis
4. Houston Dynamo -- Thorleifur Ulfarsson, F, Duke
5. Austin FC -- Kipp Keller, D, Saint Louis
6. FC Dallas -- Lucas Bartlett, D, St. John's
7. New York Red Bulls -- Matthew Nocita, D, Navy
8. San Jose Earthquakes -- Ousseni Bouda, F, Stanford
9. Inter Miami -- Ryan Sailor, D, Washington
10. Nashville SC -- Ahmed Longmire, D, UCLA
11. Chicago Fire -- Kendall Burks, D, Washington
12. Columbus Crew -- Patrick Schulte, GK, Saint Louis
13. San Jose Earthquakes -- Oskar Agren, D, Clemson
14. FC Cincinnati -- Ian Murphy, D, Duke
15. CF Montreal -- Jojea Kwizera, F, Utah Valley
16. Vancouver Whitecaps -- Simon Becher, F, Saint Louis
17. Minnesota United -- Tani Oluwaseyi, F, St. John's
18. Orlando City -- Jack Lynn, F, Notre Dame
19. Atlanta United -- Erik Centeno, F, Pacific
20. New York Red Bulls -- O'Vonte Mullings, F, Florida Gulf Coast
21. LA Galaxy -- Farai Mutatu, F, Michigan State
22. Sporting Kansas City -- Esai Easley, D, Grand Canyon
23. Colorado Rapids -- Mohamed Omar, M, Notre Dame
24. New England Revolution -- Jacob Jackson, GK, Loyola Marymount
25. Columbus Crew -- Philip Quinton, D, Notre Dame
26. Colorado Rapids -- Anthony Markanich, D, Northern Illinois
27. Portland Timbers -- Justin Rasmussen, D, Grand Canyon
28. FC Dallas -- Tsiki Ntsabeleng, F, Oregon State
--Field Level Media