Sporting Kansas City selected two defenders in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft Tuesday. Grand Canyon University defender Esai Easley was taken in the first round at No. 22 overall and University of Maryland defender Brett St. Martin in the second round at No. 50 overall. Sporting KC passed in the third round.
Easley was born and raised in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and made 47 starts with 53 appearances for Grand Canyon University. The 21-year-old helped the Antelopes to two titles in the Western Athletic Conference and three NCAA Tournament appearances.
While at Grand Canyon University, Easley played for legendary former MLS coach Schellas Hyndman for three years and then for former MLS player Leonard Griffin his last season.
He is capable of playing center back and right back and could see time in either spot for SKC or SKC II. “He can handle the ball, he has decent athleticism and good size that we look for in central defenders,” Sporting KC Technical Director and Vice President of Player Personnel Brian Bliss explained after the draft. “We see him as a play it out of the back central defender which in Peter’s (Vermes) system is important.”
Sporting KC was able to see Easley a number of times in person when Grand Canyon and UMKC were in the same conference.
St. Martin, 22, had a successful four years at Maryland, winning the 2018 national championship and helping Maryland to four NCAA Tournament appearances. “Pretty good on the ball, Big 10, Maryland, he has all those good things going for him in terms of what Sash (coach Sasho Cirovski) has been able to produce in terms of players at that program. He’s an attacking right back.” Bliss stated.
Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi played for Cirovski at Maryland and is one of twelve US National Team players to come from the acclaimed Terrapin coach.
Maryland native St. Martin can also play center back and right back.
There did seem to be a theme with SKC’s draft picks. Both were captains for their respective teams, both are versatile and can play in multiple spots on the back line, both are good ball handlers and both come from programs with well-known and accomplished coaches.
Top Drawer Soccer had Easley at 21st and St. Martin at 29th on their big board.
“These are both quality guys in areas that we could use help,” Bliss added.
Capitol? Doesn’t matter. Easley is one of a growing contingent of players with roots in Hawaii. Let’s schedule a friendly in Hawaii for scouting purposes...
Some Easley highlights