The heart of the Washington men’s soccer team’s defense will look a little different entering the 2021 season.
Coming off a Pac-12 championship and a deep playoff run, center back duo Ethan Bartlow and Freddy Kleemann — the anchors of Washington’s stingy defense — were selected in the first round of the 2021 MLS SuperDraft on Thursday. Head coach Jamie Clark said he was proud to see both players take the next step in their careers.
“What a great day for Husky defenders,” he said. “Ethan and Freddy had a great defensive partnership here at Washington and to see them get drafted in the same draft is so fitting.”
Bartlow came off the draft board first, selected by the Houston Dynamo as the No. 6 overall pick two days after signing a Generation Adidas contract allowing him to make the leap to the professional level a year early.
A second-team All-American and the first player in UW history to earn Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, Bartlow made 38 appearances for Washington in his two years on Montlake. He was also named to the 2019 All-Pac-12 first team and helped the Huskies keep 12 clean sheets during the team’s championship campaign. Bartlow also scored five goals in 2019 and completed his first career brace in the team’s NCAA tournament win against Marshall.
Selected five picks after Bartlow, Kleemann will also head to the Lone Star State as he was drafted by expansion team Austin FC with the No. 11 overall pick. Arriving on Montlake in 2017, Kleemann redshirted his first season with the Huskies before making his debut in 2018.
Kleemann broke into the starting lineup during the 2019 season, partnering Bartlow at the back and starting 16 games for the Huskies. During his two seasons with Washington, the 6-foot-4 defender recorded 15 clean sheets.
Bartlow and Kleemann are the 21st and 22nd players drafted since Clark arrived to helm the program in 2011. They are also the 10th and 11th Huskies selected in the first round, and the first since Justin Fiddes was drafted with the No. 17 overall pick by the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2018.
Washington, which already had to replace its leading goalscorer after Blake Bodily signed a homegrown contract with the Portland Timbers, now has to replace both its starting center backs as it prepares to defend its Pac-12 title this spring. However, Clark is simply looking forward to seeing Bartlow and Kleemann play at the next level for years to come.
“They both have the ability to play for a long time, so it’s going to be fun to see them take the next step,” he said.
Reach Sports Editor Andy Yamashita at email@example.com. Twitter: @ANYamashita
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