Drew Cost wasn’t at the MLS Combine and wasn’t selected in last week’s MLS SuperDraft like teammate Corey Hertzog, but it doesn’t mean the midfielder won’t get his shot at the next level.
After being taken with the 32nd pick of Tuesday’s MLS Supplemental Draft, the senior will be going to Utah as a member of Real Salt Lake.
“I’m just extremely excited,” Cost said. “I was really impressed with their coaching staff and the way they run things out there so I’m just really excited to get the chance to keep playing and show what I can do at the next level.”
While Cost, who started 21 games for Penn State this season, wasn’t invited to the draft combine in Florida, he was able to show Real Salt Lake what he could do. Prior to the draft, the midfielder traveled to a Real Salt Lake pre-draft camp outside of Phoenix, Ariz. with about 30 other players and said he felt he played well.
Under first-year coach Bob Warming, Cost changed his mentality from attack minded to more of a two-way player, focusing on defense and offense equally. As a “box-to-box” type player in soccer terminology, Cost scored three goals and tallied five assists and was one of the Nittany Lions’ top players in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
“Out of all those guys, they picked him so I thought that was terrific,” Warming said. “Drew’s best soccer is ahead of him, he’s continually gotten better. I think the last six games of the year he, in a lot of ways, looked to be our best player. He was fantastic the last six games of the season.”
Though the Supplemental Draft doesn’t carry the same luster as the SuperDraft, it has fielded its share of high caliber players over the years. San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski, the MLS leading scorer last year, was taken as a supplemental pick in 2005. DaSan Robinson, a starting defender for the Chicago Fire, was picked in 2006 and Houston Dynamo and United States forward Brian Ching was a 2003 selection by San Jose.
Despite being a central midfielder his entire life, Cost said he isn’t sure what his role will be at the next level. The senior said he could see himself playing on a wing or even as a forward, but added he’s willing to do whatever the team asks of him, even if it’s to learn a new position.
What is also working in Cost's favor is the reinstatement of a reserve league in the MLS and the expansion of league rosters to 30 players. Warming said the option to play in reserve games will help young players in the MLS because they’ll still get game experience despite not being in the first squad.
“If that’s where guys like me end up then that’s great because it gives us a chance to get some great work in, improve and try to crack the first team in a couple years,” Cost said. “If that’s where I end up then I’ll be happy with that as well. It’s somewhere where I can try to improve and get better.”
Real Salt Lake won the MLS Cup in 2009 and qualified for the 2010 playoffs before losing to eventual runner-up FC Dallas in the first round. Cost said he was very impressed by Real head coach Jason Kreis and assistant coach Miles Joseph and called the team's operation a “professional atmosphere.”
Despite the fact he is joining a playoff team with a talented roster, Cost said he feels like he’s just as good as some of the players taken in the SuperDraft. Going into the professional level knowing other top MLS players have emerged from the Supplemental Draft is a confidence booster for the midfielder and he said if he can just show what he can do, he believes he’ll make it in the league.
“I’m real excited to go to a proven team,” Cost said. “It might be a little bit tougher to make the squad, but if that’s how it has to be, then that’s how it has to be.”