The first round of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft was a busy one, with movers and shakers all making their mark early on in MLS' collegiate draft. Not to be left out, D.C. United moved up two spots in the first round, and picked Syracuse University midfielder Julian Buescher with the 11th pick overall.
Buescher, originally from Germany, will use up an international roster spot for United. The midfielder spent two years at Syracuse University, playing in 45 games, notching 8 goals and 17 assists. He was signed to a Generation Adidas deal before the draft, making him the first GA player picked by United since Perry Kitchen in 2011.
For manager Ben Olsen, Buescher was just the guy he was looking for, a player who can play several roles in the midfield.
"He's versatile. He's one of the best players in college soccer," Olsen said to reporters after the pick. "He can play underneath, he can play wide, he can play as a number 8. He's very comfortable on the ball, has a nose for goal. He can play forward passes, he has a nice arrogance about him."
"I'm a box to box guy, a creative guy, who likes to dictate the rhythm of play. I hope I can do that for DC," Buescher said in his first interview as an United player. "It's awesome to be going to DC. The coaching staff was great to me. I appreciate them changing the draft pick and trusting me to get me."
United came into the day sitting with the 13th pick in the first round. But as the round progressed, Olsen and company saw a chance to move up to ensure they could get their guy. United sent Targeted Allocation Money to Sporting Kansas City for the 11th pick, and then traded the original 13th pick to Orlando City SC for TAM and the 12th pick in the second round.
"We didn't think he'd make it to our pick, so we had to move down a few spots," said Olsen.
According to Olsen, United recouped most of the TAM sent to Sporting from Orlando, meaning that United was able to turn the 13th pick into the 11th in the first round, the 12th in the second round, at a small price.
Olsen also made it known that the Buescher selection wasn't a move to replace lost assets this offseason. Seemingly confirming earlier reports that the Black-and-Red had moved on from trying to sign Perry Kitchen to a new deal, Olsen said Buescher wasn't a replacement, and that Kitchen's replacement was already on the roster.
"We didn't get him to fix a hole or fill a void that Perry [Kitchen] left. We have Markus Halsti," Olsen said emphatically. "This is an attacking piece. A number ten, a second forward, or maybe out wide, maybe as an 8. We like what he is about. We are looking forward to getting him into the group as quickly as possible."
In Germany, Buescher played for VfL Bochum, Preussen Muenster and Sportfreunde Lotte youth teams. The midfielder also played for the U16 and U18 Germany sides, but once he made the move stateside, going back to Germany wasn't part of his plan.
"I've gotten so many open doors here, over time that I played here," Buescher said. "It's been going in a good direction, and I'm happy about that."
After an impressive start to his college career as a freshman, in which he was named to the All-ACC Second Team and the ACC All-Freshman team, Buescher came on strong as a sophomore, scoring 8 goals and adding 11 helpers in 25 games. As a result, the German was named to College Soccer News' All-America First Team, and was also a MAC Hermann Award Trophy semifinalist.
All of that put Buescher on United's radar, and the combine allowed the two parties to get to know each other better. While Buescher hasn't been to DC before, he came away from meetings with the Black-and-Red with the knowledge that the team had belief that he could help out in year one.
"It's a great coaching staff. That's the greatest part - to have someone to trust you and to believe in you. Going from there makes it a little bit easier."