After a busy day in Philadelphia, former Cal defender Steve Birnbaum took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down with me for a quick Q & A session:
Mitchell Northam: How would you describe the process of the combine and the draft?
Steve Birnbaum: "Both the combine and the draft have been great experiences. It's been cool to meet the guys I have been playing against in college. Everyone was excited and all the guys were having a good time; I got to room with my old roommate Christian Dean too. It was a little nerve racking at times, but mostly I had happy vibes."
MN: How happy were you to see Dean drafted just after you were picked?
SB: "It was awesome. We both knew we were going to get picked so we're both excited for each other. I can't say enough about him, he's a great player and I'm excited to play against him. That's going to be fun."
MN: You said you knew you were going to get picked, so at what point in your life did you know that you were going to play in MLS?
SB: "Coming into Cal I knew I wanted to play, but I think my freshman year of high school I really made it my goal to become a professional soccer player. I really committed to soccer as a person with the club and national team aspect of it. I really just wanted to make that next jump."
MN: Did you have an idea of where you were going to go in the draft?
SB: "I heard rumors about things, but you never know with trades and everything going on. I figured I would be one of the top picks, but really I'm just super stoked to be coming to DC. It's a great organization."
MN: Did you see D.C. United as one of the teams that might draft you?
SB: "Definitely. We kept in touch with each other throughout the combine, so I knew they were interested. I'm just happy that they picked me."
MN: What was your first impression of Ben Olsen?
SB: "He's awesome; great guy. He's passionate about his team, the sport, and everything that he is doing; and that's how I am as a player. I'm excited to start working with him."
MN: Do you think that there is a lot of pressure on you as the first round pick of a team that struggled so much last season?
SB: "I try not to think about the pressure. I'm going to try and go in there and just do what I've done throughout my career, which is to work hard. I'm all about helping the team right now, so whatever I can to do help the team is what I'll try to do and make that my goal."
MN: What are you looking forward to most about playing with D.C. United in MLS?
SB: "Just the opportunity to play with some great guys and to be a pro. That's what I've always dreamed of doing. I couldn't have asked for anything better. I'm so happy right now and I'm ready to just get out there and get going."
D.C. United selected Birnbaum with the number two overall pick in the draft after completing a trade with the Philadelphia Union which brought DC allocation money. The former Cal defender was regarded as one of the top players in the draft and many see him as MLS-ready. Playing the position of CB, he'll look to compete with veteran Bobby Boswell and newly acquired Jeff Parke for playing time.
Here's how the rest of the Super Draft went on day one:
|1. Philadelphia Union||Andre Blake, GK||Brotherly Game|
|2. D.C. United||Steve Birnbaum, D||Black and Red United|
|3. Vancouver Whitecaps||Christian Dean, D||86 Forever|
|4. New England Revolution||Steve Neumann, M/F||The Bent Musket|
|5. Montreal Impact||Eric Miller, D||Mount Royal Soccer|
|6. FC Dallas||Tesho Akindele, M/F||Big D Soccer|
|7. Whitecaps||Andre Lewis, M||86 Forever|
|8. Seattle Sounders||Damion Lowe, D||Sounder at Heart|
|9. San Jose Earthquakes||J.J. Koval, M||Quake, Rattle and Goal|
|10. Toronto FC||Nick Hagglund, D||Waking the Red|
|11. New England Revolution||Patrick Mullins, M/F||The Bent MusketBurgundy Wave|
|12. Colorado Rapids||Marlon Hairston, M||Burgundy Wave|
|13. Chicago Fire||Marco Franco, D||Hot Time In Old Town|
|14. Crew||Ben Sweat, D||Massive Report|
|15. Union||Pedro Ribeiro, M||Brotherly Game|
|16. Houston Dynamo||A.J. Cochran, D||Dynamo Theory|
|17. Portland Timbers||Schillo Tshuma, M/F||Stumptown Footy|
|18. Real Salt Lake||Ryan Neil, D||RSL Soapbox|
|19. Rapids||Grant Van de Casteele, D||Burgundy Wave|
|20. Chivas USA||Thomas McNamara, M||The Goat Parade|
|21. Seattle Sounders||Jimmy Ockford, D||Sounder at Heart|
|22. New York Red Bulls||Chris Duvall, D||Once a Metro|
|23. LA Galaxy||Kyle Venter, D||LAG Confidential|
|24. Toronto FC||Daniel Lovitz, M||Waking the Red|
|25. Union||Kevin Cope, D||Brotherly Game|
|26. Timbers||Taylor Peay, D||Stumptown Footy|
|27. Union||Robbie Derschang, D||Brotherly Game|
|28. Earthquakes||Joe Sofia, D||Quake, Rattle and Goal|
|29. United||Victor Munoz, M||Black and Red United|
|30. Whitecaps||Mamadou Diouf, F||86 Forever|
|31. Revolution||Alec Sundly, M||The Bent Musket|
|32. Dynamo||Mark Sherrod, F||Dynamo Theory|
|33. Rapids||Jared Watts, M||Burgundy Wave|
|34. Red Bulls||Eric Stevenson, M||Once a Metro|
|35. Rapids||John Berner, GK||Burgundy Wave|
|36. Timbers||Aaron Long, M||Stumptown Footy|
|37. Impact||George Malki, M||Mount Royal Soccer|
|38. Sporting Kansas City||Adnan Gabeljic, F||The Daily Wiz|