Three Pittsburgh Panthers were selected tonight in the MLS SuperDraft, the specific draft reserved for players coming through the NCAA system.
Among those selected were forward Bertin Jacquesson, midfielder Valentin Noel, and midfielder Jackson Walti.
Jacquesson was the first of the bunch to be selected, as the Frenchman was taken 16th overall by Real Salt Lake.
Jacquesson was an important source of offense during his three seasons in the Panther uniform, scoring 19 goals and providing 23 assists as well. He was the 2020 ACC Freshman of the year, as well as a three-time second-team all-conference player (2020, 2021, 2022).
His presence will be missed moving forward, especially his creativity in the final third.
Selected just a few picks after him was Valentin Noel, who was drafted 20th overall. The 20th pick changed hands a few times over the last few days, but it was MLS newcomer Austin FC calling Noel’s name on draft night.
Noel played four seasons in the blue and yellow, starting all 77 games that he made appearances in. Playing in more of an attacking role out of the midfield, Noel was a font of offensive talent too, with 35 career goals and 13 assists.
Noel’s list of awards is long. He was named to the 2019 All-ACC rookie team, the 2020 and 2022 All-ACC first team, and the 2021 All-ACC second team. 2020 was his magnum opus, as he was named the ACC offensive player of the year, as well as earning a place as a finalist for the Mac Hermann Trophy, the award given to the best collegiate men’s soccer player.
Among all of his goals, his last may be his most memorable. Noel found himself on the receiving end of a Jacquesson cross that he headed into the back of the net in the 117th minute of a 1-0 victory over Portland, a goal that would send the Panthers to the College Cup.
Jackson Walti was the last of the three Panthers drafted, picked 56th overall by the same Austin FC that selected his Pitt teammate.
Walti served as the captain of the Pitt team this past season and was a stalwart in the lineup during his five years in Pittsburgh. The midfielder made appearances in 101 games, 98 of those being starts. Those both register as records, no player in Pitt history has ever worn the jersey more than Walti.
Serving in a more defensive midfield role, Walti does not have the eye-popping offensive statistics that the prior two players did, but he was equally impactful.
In terms of awards, Walti was a three-time second-team All-ACC player (2020,2021,2022) during his career.
If you developed an affinity for watching soccer following the World Cup and were searching for a team to latch on to, Austin FC seems like the place to be now that they’ve added some Panthers to the roster.