Los Angeles FC started off the 2018 MLS draft with a bang Friday, selecting Akron defender Joao Moutinho with the first overall pick before trading for the No. 3 spot to take Pacific fullback Tristan Blackmon.
Moutinho, a Sporting Lisbon academy product, turned heads as a freshman at Akron, displaying impressive technical quality and a feel for the game. Though used mostly as a central defender at Akron, he's been projected as a potential left back or defensive midfielder in MLS.
Moutinho scored three goals and added five assists in 24 games during his only season at Akron and was named Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year.
"It's a roller coaster of emotions to be honest," Moutinho said after being selected. "It's something I never thought about when I came here. To be the first pick in a great group of players is an honor for me."
LAFC continued to build its back line, selecting Blackmon after sending $100,000 in general allocation money and $100,000 in targeted allocation money to D.C. United in exchange for the third pick.
Blackmon entered the draft as the top-rated right back after a stellar four-year career at Pacific, where he had a pair of goals and assists during his senior season. The 21-year-old was named West Coast Conference Defender of the Year in 2017.
Moutinho, 20, was a member of this year's six-player Generation Adidas class, which features the most highly regarded underclassmen in the draft. As a Generation Adidas player, Moutinho will see his wages not count against LAFC's salary budget.
Moutinho, a Portugal native, will take up an international player spot on LAFC's roster. Each MLS team is allowed to have eight foreign-born players, although those slots can be traded.
Despite the draft featuring more talented attackers than past years, the first three picks went to defenders, as the LA Galaxy used the second selection on Stanford University junior Tomas Hilliard-Arce, who won three national titles during his collegiate career.
Rounding out the top five, FC Dallas traded up to select Michigan winger Francis Atuahene with the fourth pick and the Chicago Fire moved up to the fifth spot to take striker Jon Bakero, the winner of the Hermann Trophy.
1. LAFC: Joao Moutinho, D
2. LA Galaxy: Tomas Hilliard-Arce, D
3. LAFC: Tristan Blackmon, D (from D.C.)
4. FC Dallas: Francis Atuahene, M (from Montreal)
5. Chicago: Jon Bakero (from Montreal)
6. Orlando: Chris Mueller, F
7. Minnesota: Mason Toye, F (from Montreal)
8. New England: Brandon Bye, D (from Philadelphia)
9. New England: Mark Segbers, D/F
10. Chicago: Mo Adams, M (from Real Salt Lake)
11. FC Dallas: Ema Twumasi, M
12. San Jose: Paul Marie, M/D
13. Sporting KC: Eric Dick, G
14. Atlanta: Jon Gallagher, F
15. Minnesota: Wyatt Omsberg, D (from Chicago)
16. Red Bulls: Brian White, F
17. Vancouver: Justin Fiddes, D
18. Sporting KC: Graham Smith, D (from Portland)
19. NYCFC: Jeff Caldwell, GK
20. Houston: Michael Nelson, GK
21. Columbus: Ben Lundgaard, GK
22. Seattle: Alex Roldan, M
23. Minnesota: Carter Manley, D (from Toronto)