Walker Zimmerman spoke to several teams before draft day. None of which drafted him. Jordan Harvey had to wait a week longer than he thought to find out where he’d begin his professional career.
The only constant surrounding draft day in MLS is to expect the unexpected.
“It was nerve racking,” Harvey said of his draft day experience. “I was 20-21. Going into that day I was pretty nervous. You hear teams are interested but you’re not really sure. And back then, I believe it was four rounds in the SuperDraft and then it goes to the secondary draft. I didn’t get picked up that first day, which is tough to swallow.”
As a four-year starter at UCLA, Harvey played under the watchful eye of professional scouts countless times in his collegiate career. A member of youth national teams as well, getting selected in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft seemed a foregone conclusion for the defender at the time. Not hearing his name on the first day was humbling.
“I remember the moment the SuperDraft happened and I wasn’t picked up,” Harvey said. “Obviously, there was the Supplemental Draft but I had high hopes to be picked up. And I was like, ‘Where am I going today?’ To not have that locked in or be picked on that day, it was tough.”
After not being picked during the four rounds of the SuperDraft, Harvey had the daunting task of waiting for the Supplemental Draft to learn his fate. But the Supplemental Draft wasn’t for a week after the SuperDraft. The wait was something the defender would never forget.
“It was very humbling and at that moment I knew if I was going to make it, I’m going to have to grind and going to have to work harder than anybody else on the team,” Harvey said. “That stuck with me. And will stick with me the rest of my life. Honestly, that’s one of the things that has driven me throughout my career is that moment.”
Relief came by way of the Colorado Rapids with the ninth pick in the first round of the Supplemental Draft.
“It was pretty emotional. I’m an emotional guy. There were tears shed and we definitely celebrated to a certain extent,” Harvey said. “I was there with my mom and dad, who have been there with me every step of the way. I gave them both a big squeeze. They told me they were super proud of me and they supported me since day one. Especially in California, you have these parents driving all around to places like Bakersfield, Fresno, Diamond Bar, just all these little tournaments. To come from doing that with them and then coming to fruition to being a professional was one of the best moments.”
For Zimmerman, draft day moved a lot quicker but with no shortage of mystery.
“The draft day is so unexpected,” Zimmerman recalled while at USMNT camp. “I think what I walked away from it with is that you can hear all the opinions from agents, front office people, and media, and you can think that everything is all figured out but you just never know until you hear your name called.”
The No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft by FC Dallas, Zimmerman hadn’t heard from Dallas at all leading up to the draft. In fact, he was pretty sure he’d end up somewhere else. In hindsight, the defender admitted it’s best to embrace the uncertainty.
“All the signs before [being drafted by Dallas] were about getting drafted by another team. So you just never really know where you’re going to end up. Just enjoy the moment,” Zimmerman said.
With LAFC holding unto the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, Harvey and Zimmerman had some words of advice to the possible first SuperDraft pick in Club history.
“Come in with an open mind and be completely open to different things. Work as hard as possible,” Harvey advised. “Stay behind late. The typical stuff of being a good pro … it’s just another step up in work ethic. In college you can get away with certain things but at the professional level you have to work at it. You have to get better each year. I’ve been in the league 13 years now, and I’ve had to get better each and every year.”
Zimmerman echoed the sentiment.
“Understand you are a No. 1 draft pick, all that grants you is an opportunity,” Zimmerman said. “Nothing is given to you. It’s all about coming in with the right mindset and coming in ready to work. Also, recognize that there is going to be a lot of people on that roster who have been there. So it’s coming in with the right attitude and ready to work. If they do that, they’re going to fit right in.”