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FC Tucson standouts Musovski & Bakero make the majors, soccer style

Musovski's goal scoring compliment future teammate Wondolowski; versitile Bakero will look for role in strong Chicago midfield

Former FC Tucson players Danny Musovski and Jon Bakero were chosen in the MLS Superdraft on Friday.

Bakero, a graduate of Wake Forest University, had long been touted as a top prospect. He was drafted fifth by the Chicago Fire after a strong performance in the combine held this week.

Although a skilled player, his game intelligence is what made him sought after. His coach at Wake Forest, Bobby Muus, told Joe Tansey of SBI on Thursday:

“His want and ability and understanding that that is a role of the position based off how teams play, but then his movement off the back four, occupying defenders and coming off their shoulders and finding balls in seams and pockets is better than anyone I’ve coached.”

Much of that is likely learned from his father, José Mari Bakero, scored 142 goals in a 17 year stint in the Spanish top flight, a dozen of those with Barcelona. The younger Bakero followed his father through his coaching career, which included times at Mexico’s Puebla and Poland’s Lech Poznań.

Bakero won a bevy of awards in his senior year at Wake Forest, capped off with the MAC Hermann Trophy, the top award in college soccer. In the summer of 2016, he played in eight games for FC Tucson before returning to Wake Forest.

The Fire team he is joining have struggled in recent years but in 2017 they added former Legia Warsawa striker Nemanja Nikolić, German star Bastian Schweinsteiger and American journeyman Dax McCarty. Given the current midfield, what the team’s plans for Bakero is are unknown. There may be clues in some of the team’s other moves. In addition to the draft, the Fire announced that they were trading both David Accam (their top scorer) and goalkeeper Matt Lampson to Philadelphia.

Including the NWSL draft earlier this week, three of Bakero’s fellow alums were also picked: Ema Tuwalsi was picked 11th overall for FC Dallas, Alison Haran will be going to the Seattle Reign and Washington Spirit picked Maddie Huster.

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Squad goals

On the other side of MLS, the San Jose Earthquakes picked Danny Musovski. Musovski played his collegiate soccer at UNLV where he scored 15 goals in his senior season. That was an average of just under a goal a game. The record is even more remarkable given that he missed five games.

He played his 2017 summer season at FC Tucson, sharing time with his brother Adam (also a UNLV Rebel). He helped the team through the playoffs and scored four goals.

Long story short, Musovski is a goal-scorer. But he will be going to a team that, despite their middling performances in recent years, has one of the best scorers in American soccer: Chris Wondolowski. Picking Musovski might be an indicator that the Quakes want to diversify their offensive portfolio.

“This is a player that has proved he can score goals. Everyone is looking for someone who can score goals,” said Jon Pearlman, an assistant coach for Oklahoma Energy FC ,who coached at FC Tucson in 2017. “The Earthquakes are hoping he can develop in a model of Chris Wondolowski. Danny certainly has a high ceiling. It’s exciting that he has this opportunity.”

Musovski’s will be joining a team with a new coaching staff (assistant Steve Ralston is the only one staying on) that, despite Wondolowski’s heroics last season (he scored a third of the team’s league goals), only made the playoffs due to a tie breaker. Since the end of the season, 12 players have moved on. A 13th, El Salvadoran international Darwin Ceren, was traded to Houston on Friday for allocation money.

Musovski will have a bit of a homecoming in a few weeks when the Earthquakes come to Tucson in preseason. Two matches are scheduled for the team: against Portland on Jan. 31 and Real Salt Lake on Feb. 7. Both matches will be at Kino Stadium.

Pinheiro still waiting

A third FC Tucson player, Afonso Pinheiro, is still on the board for rounds three and four of the draft, scheduled for Sunday.

Ted Prezelski writes about all things soccer, fútbol and piłka nożna for TucsonSentinel.com and at the blog How Flair is Punished (mindingthe.net).


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Josh Pearson

Danny Musovski and Jon Bakero during their times with FC Tucson.