Blast's draft moves make day for two local players


Dreams do come true. At least they did yesterday for UMBC forward Jason Dieter and Towson State forward Joe Layfield, who were selected by the Baltimore Blast in the Major Soccer League draft at the Stouffer Harborplace Hotel.

Dieter and Layfield, whose soccer roots run deep in the Baltimore area, both wanted to be drafted by their hometown team, and they got their wish.

Dieter was Baltimore's second pick in the first round, and Layfield was the Blast's second selection in the third round.

In all, the Blast drafted six players yesterday, including University of Virginia standout midfielder Richie Williams, who was Baltimore's first pick in the first round and the second player taken overall.

Williams helped the Cavaliers win the NCAA championship last season.

"Richie comes from a great program," Blast coach Kenny Cooper said. "They've produced a lot of great players. It's like checking out a person's pedigree. Richie was the player we wanted, even though we rated Gerell Elliott and him about even."

The Blast (21-31 last season) had the second pick yesterday behind the Dallas Sidekicks (20-32).

Dallas made Elliott, a midfielder from Fresno State, the top player chosen in the draft.

Elliott, 5 feet 11, 153 pounds, was the second-leading scorer in the nation last season, with 20 goals and 13 assists, and was named a first-team Division I All-American.

Sidekicks coach Gordon Jago said: "Billy Phillips [Dallas assistant] has been with Gerell all week during the College Showcase. We thought he was the best player here."

For Baltimore to get Dieter and Layfield in the draft, Cooper had to do some wheeling and dealing and fast talking.

First, Cooper had to engineer a trade with the St. Louis Storm for its seventh selection in the first round to draft Dieter.

"I know Dallas wanted Jason as its first pick in the second round," Cooper said. "So I went to Don Popovic [Storm coach] and proposed a one-for-one player trade, in addition to us getting his seventh pick in the first round. He has been after one of our players [believed to be defender Emil Dragicevic]."

Cooper and the Blast were expected to announce today who they had traded to St. Louis.

The Blast said it had promised Popovic it would not announce the deal until he had a chance to inform his player involved (believed to be forward Godfrey Ingram).

Then Cooper had to remind Popovic that the St. Louis coach owed him a favor from a few years ago and should not take Layfield as the Storm's sixth pick in the third round.

For Dieter, it turned out to be a perfect day all around, as he celebrated his girlfriend, Karen's, birthday, Valentine's Day and being drafted by the Blast at a quiet dinner in a White Marsh restaurant last night.

"This is unbelievable," said Dieter. "Karen was afraid I was going to be drafted by a team a couple of thousand miles away and I'd be leaving her. She thought it might turn out to be Doomsday."

Layfield had to wait longer than Dieter to fulfill his dream and said: "I was getting a little antsy. There weren't any players from the Showcase being drafted, and I was waiting to hear my name. I'm going to go out and give it my best."

Layfield had two goals and Dieter had one goal and one assist, as the East defeated the West, 7-6, in overtime Thursday night in the USAir College Soccer Showcase at the Baltimore Arena.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad