Pacific’s Camden Riley Drafted to MLS
For the second consecutive year, a member of Pacific’s men’s soccer team will be playing professional soccer. Senior midfielder Camden Riley ‘19 was selected by Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City in the second round of the 2019 MLS Draft. Riley is the second player that Pacific men’s soccer has sent to Major League Soccer, following last season’s drafting of Tristan Blackmon by Los Angeles FC. Riley’s drafting comes following a solid season for the Tigers, having made it to the second round of the NCAA men’s soccer tournament for the third consecutive year.
Riley is Pacific’s leading all-time goal scorer with 19 goals scored, tied the season record for most points with 23, and joins a Kansas City squad that finished with an 18-8-8 regular season record and reached the Conference Finals of the MLS Cup. Sporting KC boasts talent that has reached an international scale with World Cup-caliber players such as Graham Zusi and Matt Besler.
“It feels amazing, I mean the pedigree that those players have is just astonishing,” says Riley. “Playing in World Cups and other big games is something that I look up to them for. But what is really cool about them is that they are so accepting and helpful to the young players, helping us by giving tips and teaching us valuable things along the way.”
This major development for Pacific’s men’s soccer program comes off of the heels of another postseason run for the Tigers, who advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the 3rd time in the 5 years since the program’s return to Pacific. “I believe that our postseason runs have really taught me how to handle pressure and how to go out there and just leave everything out there,” explained Riley, “They have helped me gain more trust in my own abilities as well, which is so important at the next level.”
“[Our successes] have brought some eyes to what we’re doing here at Pacific,” explains head coach Ryan Jorden, “and the natural byproduct of that is that our best players are going to have an opportunity to be seen and evaluated and invited to an environment where they have the opportunity to compete against other top collegiate players, and the opportunity to have everyone in pro soccer in America taking a look at them.” This only signals the chance for further growth and recognition on the professional stage as the Tigers continue to be successful in the regular and the postseason, as Coach Jorden notes that, “We’ve just got to continue to be working, and team success will continue to fuel the individual recognition.”
As amazing of an opportunity as this is for Riley, however, it is recognized that this also benefits the Tigers as a whole. “I feel that we have taken this program to the next level and can be producing players for many years to come,” says Riley, “And as Coach always tells us, he’s always trying to improve the team every year and bring in better footballers. And I see the program going on an upward trend, so I am excited for the future of Pacific soccer.”