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Philadelphia Union draft pick Aidan Apodaca signs with Steel FC

The purest goal scorer in NCAA last year gets a USL deal

Matt Ralph

Perhaps unlike a big USL name like Brandon Allen, Aidan Apodaca’s signing with Bethlehem this morning won’t be met with league wide hype or fanfare. We’re not used to talking at length about MLS SuperDraft third round picks, we don’t know a ton about smaller college schools, one of which Apodaca played at. That being said, his accolades and more importantly his work ethic stood out both in college and to the Steel FC staff.

Aidan spent last year terrorizing the PacWest. Not content with just earning a Division II player of the year nod, Apodaca put in an NCAA best 29 goals in 21 games. Four years at Cal Baptist saw the crafty forward leave with numerous school records both over his career and last year. Last year he set the goal record with 29, points record with 108, shots record with 143 and also put up 4 hat tricks and 11 total multi-goal games.

For every record career, there’s a banner year and 2017 was that for the California native, with the aforementioned hat tricks, multi-goal games and total goals setting school season records last year. He also added a single-game record with five goals in one match.

All this is great but how does Aidan fit into the Steel role, especially being a somewhat diminutive striker? I’ve always liked Brendan Burke’s ability to change his squad’s look in given weeks with pacier guys. I’d expect Apodaca to fit in up top much like Chris Nanco did at times last year, including a great game at Lehigh against Red Bull II where Nanco absolutely tore the Red Bull back line to shreds with pace. The combination of Santi Moar, Chris Nanco and Brandon Allen up top is already a handful, but imagine the change up for the last half hour or so with a smaller, speedier guy like Apodaca coming on. That and for his size he’s remarkably strong on the ball, probably enabling him to find layoff runs and feed assists to teammates almost at will.

Quote from the man himself:

“It’s pure excitement because I’ve been playing this game for almost 15 years so being able to get that first contact doing what I love is amazing. Joining Bethlehem Steel FC is the first step and given the transition from the college game into a professional environment, I think coming to Steel FC will be very beneficial. The ultimate goal is to progress through the organization toward the Philadelphia Union that drafted me.”

Apodaca is the first of the Union’s three 2018 SuperDraft picks to sign with the organization. His signing brings the Steel roster to within one of meeting the league minimum (12).

If you’re around at all today come see the new boys Aidan, AJ Paterson and Prosper Chiluya take on USL rivals Penn FC at YSC Sports near King of Prussia at 1:30 p.m.