University of Akron men’s soccer freshman Joao Moutinho (Lisbon, Portugal) was rewarded for his stellar campaign when Major League Soccer announced on Friday his selection to the 2018 Generation adidas class, confirming the signing of six talented NCAA underclassmen joining professional ranks through the 2018 MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 19 in Philadelphia, Pa.
Moutinho is a member of a talented 2018 class that also includes Mo Adams (Syracuse University), Francis Atuahene (University of Michigan), Mason Toye (Indiana University), Ema Twumasi (Wake Forest University) and Gordon Wild (University of Maryland).
“Joao proved this year that he is one of the best players in the country,” Akron head coach Jared Embick commented. “To accomplish what he did this year as a freshman playing out of position speaks to his talent and level of intelligence. He has the skill, attitude and mentality to become a great pro. It is always a proud moment for the program to continue to be able to recruit and develop talent for the next level. We wish Joao the best of luck and we will be with him throughout his career. No matter where his career takes him, he will always be a Zip!”
Moutinho, a 2017 First-Team United Soccer Coaches All-America honoree, Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year,TopDrawerSoccer.com National Freshman of the Year and First-Team All-MAC performer, started all 24 games for the Zips this season. A keyplaymaker for Akron totaling three goals and five assists, he contributed 19 shots on goal as part of 40 overall shots, totals that ranked third on the squad.
Generation adidas is a joint program between MLS and adidas that is dedicated to developing exceptional domestic talent in the U.S. and Canada in a professional environment. Each year, a handful of top domestic collegiate underclassmen and youth national team players are signed by the league and placed in the SuperDraft. Players who join MLS as part of the Generation adidas program receive the opportunity to develop their game and hone their skills at the professional level by training and playing with one of Major League Soccer’s 23 professional clubs. Generation adidas players do not count against an MLS team’s salary budget.
Akron ranks first in the number of Generation adidas signings from 2006 to present with 12, besting the likes of UCLA (9), Maryland (8), Indiana (6), North Carolina (4), California (4), UCSB (4), Wake Forest (4), and Syracuse (4). Akron’s combined Generation adidas/Project-40 signings from 1997 to present ranks third (12).
Developing players for the next level has become commonplace for the Akron staff as 32 Zips have gone on to play professionally either in Major League Soccer, USL or overseas since 2006, including No. 1 overall pick Steve Zakuani in 2009, and No. 2 overall picks Darlington Nagbe in 2011 and Darren Mattocks in 2012 – just to name a few. Nagbe was part of a draft class that set MLS draft day records for most players drafted from a single school in the first round (5) and overall (8).