Three upperclassmen from the Pitt men’s soccer team will be available in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft, as Nico Campuzano, Alexander Dexter and Jasper Löeffelsend have all decided to test the waters at the professional level. In addition, former Pitt forward Edward Kizza has also entered the upcoming draft, according to an announcement from MLS on Thursday.
In 2020, Pitt went 7-1, and all three of the draft entrants played vital roles on the team. Campuzano was the team’s starting goalkeeper and played in all eight of Pitt’s games. He came up with 31 saves, allowed 12 goals and finished with a goals-against average of 1.47. Löeffelsend led the Panthers with six assists in seven games but suffered an injury late in the season that forced him to miss the ACC championship. And Dexter chipped in two goals and three assists for a total of seven points in eight games.
Campuzano and Löeffelsend are both graduate students, and Dexter is a senior who has played at Pitt for four years. So none of them are entering the draft early. However, all three players would have been granted eligibility for another season as fall-sport athletes, and it appears they will forgo that extra year. With that said, if they are selected in the draft, they will have the option to remain with Pitt and finish the 2020-21 season. That is an important detail for Pitt, which last took the field as the No. 1 team in the nation and closed out 2020 with a 2-1 loss to Clemson in the ACC championship. As a result, the team will likely be awarded a high seed in the 2021 NCAA tournament in the coming months.
The announcement from MLS also saw the re-emergence of Kizza, who abruptly left the Pitt team before the start of the 2020 season without explanation. After his exit, Vidovich noted that Kizza had left on good terms with the team but no other details were provided. Kizza finished his college career as one of Pitt’s all-time greats. Between 2017 and 2019, he came up with 31 goals and seven assists for a total of 69 points in 53 games. And for his efforts, he earned first-team All-ACC honors after the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
As one of the best strikers in the nation at the time of his departure from Pitt, Kizza is highly likely to come off the board quickly in the draft. Löeffelsend also showed immense promise during his time at Pitt — albeit in a brief seven-game window — and could earn a shot in the league as well. But Pitt's most coveted prospect behind Kizza may well be Dexter, as both Kizza and Dexter have been floated as potential first-round picks by SBI Soccer.
Pitt’s only previous selections in the MLS draft were Pol Planellas and Javi Perez, both midfielders who played under Vidovich and were selected by the Los Angeles Football Club. Planellas was selected in the 2018 draft, and Perez was selected in the 2019 draft. The 2021 MLS SuperDraft will get underway next Thursday at 2 p.m. ET, and it will be available to stream on MLSsoccer.com.