Former Cal Poly men’s soccer player George Malki was selected by the Montreal Impact in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft on Thursday.
Keenan Donath and Stephan Teodosescu
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With all eyes fixed on former Cal Poly forward Mackenzie Pridham, it was George Malki who stole the spotlight in Thursday’s Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft.
The former midfielder was selected late in the second round with the 37th overall pick by the Montreal Impact, making him the highest-drafted player in program history.
Meanwhile, Pridham wasn’t selected in the first two rounds and will have to wait until Tuesday’s third or fourth round to hear his name called.
The selection was a surprise to many, leaving even the usually chatty ESPN draft commentator Alexi Lalas at a loss for words. Even Malki said he didn’t expect it all.
“I had no idea the call was coming,” Malki said. “I was actually sleeping. I watched the first 15 picks of the first round and then I took a nap because I had trained earlier around 6:40 with the Poly team. And I woke up from a call from Bernardo Silva, the women’s assistant coach. He told me ‘congrats.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘you got drafted in the second round to Montreal.’ I was speechless.”
But for those familiar with the Cal Poly men’s soccer program, Malki’s selection was expected.
A four-year starter, Malki got the nod in all 21 games this past season as a senior, and ranks fourth in program history with 72 career appearances.
While he may not fill up the stat sheet like some of his fellow draftees, Malki has a tremendous all-around game, Cal Poly head coach Paul Holocher said.
“He’s a good overall player who can do a little bit of everything well,” Holocher said. “He can pass the ball well, he can dribble well, he can cross the ball well. He is versatile. And he can play in the middle of the field well.”
In addition to his on-field talent, George is known as the ultimate team player according to Holocher, who gushed over his “team-oriented” philosophy and said he is “one of the most enjoyable players he has coached in 15 years” after the announcement was made.
Another skill that was likely noticed by MLS scouts was Malki’s ability to come up big in big games. Malki etched his name into Cal Poly soccer lore after he scored the game-winning goal against rival UC Santa Barbara in a 2012 matchup.
As a junior, Malki scored four goals and notched three assists in a breakout campaign and has international experience as a member of the U. S. National Team U-17 player pool. He’s also trained with Swedish side Assyriska Föreningen and Sporting Lisbon of Portugal.
“He has the opportunity to go play with top-level players, and he has got to get really fit and got to play really smart if he wants to stick in the league,” Holocher said.
In talking with Montreal’s representatives earlier in the day, Malki said he expects the Impact to put him at left wing.
“The first year is going to be super tough,” Malki said. “(I’m willing) to help Montreal anyway that I can.”
Montreal is MLS’s newest franchise having joined in 2012. Along with the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto F.C., the Impact are the league’s third Canadian franchise.
Former midfielder Junior Burgos was previously Cal Poly’s highest MLS draft pick when he was selected 44th overall by Toronto FC in the 2011 draft.