With their final pick during the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, D.C. United selected Radford University defender Jo Vetle Rimstad. Rimstad, a 6’2” Norwegian center back, finished his college career with two straight All-Big South nods, and was the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. He was a four-year starter with the Highlanders, and will turn 25 later this year.
It’s a bit of a left-field selection for United, as Rimstad was not being mentioned in the various mock drafts that made the rounds in the build-up to today’s big event. He was a late addition to the MLS Combine as well. However, there were rumors during last year’s draft in Baltimore that the Black-and-Red were thinking about picking up a center back early, and they eventually drafted Liam Doyle from Ohio State. Doyle counted as an international at the time, and was released late in the preseason, but the evidence that United is planning for the future at this position is there.
Rimstad also makes history as the first-ever Radford player to ever be drafted by an MLS club:
Still, it will be a tough road for Rimstad. Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare, and Jalen Robinson are all in place as solid center back options, and United is probably hesitant to use an international spot on a reserve unless they really feel like he can contribute in the years to come. This would be a great sort of pick to add to a USL satellite club, but United - who hopes to establish just such a team as soon as they can - have to wait until they move out of RFK Stadium to be able to afford the extra expenditure.
If Rimstad impresses, we could see him end up with the Richmond Kickers. However, the Kickers are an independent USL team looking to lift trophies, so Rimstad will have to be good enough that they’re convinced he’s worth one of their international spots.