The New York Red Bulls completed one of the biggest coups of the 2015 MLS draft, signing Leo Stolz to a contract after landing the Hermann Trophy winner with the No. 18 pick.
Stolz signed his contract Saturday, ending a prolonged saga that saw him turn down contract offers from MLS a year ago, and more recently in the past month.
“In the soccer community, many consider Leo to be the best player in this draft,” Red Bulls sporting director Ali Curtis said in a team release. “We are excited to welcome such an accomplished player to the Red Bull family. We’re confident that our environment, coupled with Jesse Marsch’s coaching and leadership, will allow Leo to reach his full potential as a player.”
Stolz, regarded as one of the best players in college soccer, insisted on playing in New York or Los Angeles, which caused contract talks with MLS to break down and led the UCLA product to consider options in Europe.
The fear that Stolz, a German-born midfielder, would bypass MLS altogether for European soccer scared off teams from spending a draft pick on him. But Stolz paved the way for the Red Bulls to draft him after reaching out to the club in the days leading up to the draft, ensuring that he was very interested in playing for New York.
As a result, the Red Bulls have landed a player who was easily one of the top three most talented players in the draft with the No. 18 overall pick. The move has angered several MLS teams that were high on Stolz leading into the draft but were were scared away by the uncertainty of his future.
Stolz, 23, is a skillful player capable of playing in an advanced midfield role as well as centrally. The Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2014, Stolz recorded nine goals and six assists to earn college soccer's most prestigious award, the Hermann Trophy.