Jan. 18, 2008
BALTIMORE, Md. - Former UC Santa Barbara soccer players Ciaran O'Brien and Andy Iro became the first players in program history to be drafted in the first round when they were taken back-to-back in the 2008 Major League Soccer SuperDraft at the Baltimore Convention Center on Friday. O'Brien was selected by Colorado with the No. 5 overall pick, while Iro went to Columbus at No. 6.
O'Brien and Iro become 11th and 12th players from UCSB to be drafted by an MLS side in the last six years. Prior to O'Brien's selection at No. 5 on Friday, midfielder Memo Arzate (2002-03) had been the Gauchos' highest pick. Arzate was selected by the Los Angeles Galaxy with the 22nd overall pick in 2004.
Other former Gauchos to be drafted in the MLS SuperDraft include Bryan Byrne (2003-06), Tony Lochhead (2001-04), David McGill (2002-03), and Rob Friend (2001-02). Byrne was selected by New England in third round of last year's draft, while Lochhead also went to the Revolution in the third round in 2005. McGill joined Arzate on the Galaxy in the fourth round in 2004 and Friend, the first player in UCSB history to be drafted, was selected in the fourth round by the Chicago Fire in 2003.
Santa Barbara has also had five players drafted in the MLS Supplemental draft.
After earning NSCAA Freshman All-American honors last season, O'Brien proved to be an excellent addition for the Gauchos in his first year in the blue and gold after transferring from the University of San Diego. The native of Federal Way, Wash. was the Big West Conference's leading scorer with 25 points on seven goals and 11 assists and was named the Big West Midfielder of the Year for his performance. O'Brien recorded two assists in Santa Barbara's 4-3 loss at Ohio State in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Dec. 2 and earned Soccer America and College Soccer News national team of the week honors on three occasions. A centerpiece of UCSB's offense last season, O'Brien either scored or assisted on 12 of the Gauchos' last 21 goals in 2007.
Iro, on the other hand, has been a staple in the Gauchos' backfield for the last four years. With the 6-foot-5 defender anchoring the backline, UCSB has posted an overall record of 64-19-9 (.745) since he arrived in Santa Barbara.
One of the most decorated players in program history, Iro was the first Gaucho to be named an All-American in each of his four seasons. The Liverpool, England native earned a second straight NSCAA/adidas Second Team selection after leading Santa Barbara to an overall record of 13-4-4 and to a sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007. A preseason All-American and Hermann Trophy Candidate, Iro led a Gaucho defense that posted a 1.04 goals against average and six shutouts this season and went on to earn the Big West Defensive Player of the Year award for the third year in a row.
A four-year letterwinner, Iro leaves UCSB after scoring 10 goals and dishing out four assists in 87 career matches. He helped lead the Gauchos to two College Cup appearances during his tenure and UCSB won the program's first NCAA National Championship in 2006. Iro was named the College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player and earned College Soccer News First Team All-American honors after Santa Barbara's amazing title run.