While no Virginia player was drafted in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, multiple sources are reporting today that star Virginia Cavaliers goalkeeper Diego Restrepo has signed with Colombian soccer club America de Cali. The terms of the contract have not been disclosed and the club has not publicly confirmed this, though Restrepo has already been listed on the club's roster.
The Venezuelan native lived in Colombia until he was 13 before his family moved to the United States. According to the Washington Post, Restrepo was not invited to participate in the MLS combine, though he did attract interest from the Seattle Sounders, having participated in their Las Vegas combine.
En route to the 2009 NCAA National Championship, Restrepo was named the 2009 NCAA College Cup's Defensive Most Valuable Player, allowing only eight goals for a goals-against average of 0.31 in 2009. Notably, he put together a school-record 16 shutouts, including a school-record 11 straight, and set the school record for scoreless minutes (1176:51). In 2009, Restrepo was named the ACC Tournament MVP and a Soccer America MVP.
In 2009, Restrepo finished the season leading the nation in save percentage (89 percent) and ranked second in the nation in goals-against average (.31) This past season, he had a goals-against average of 0.77 (24th in the nation) and a saver percentage of 82 percent (27th in the country).
"I'm very excited to join America de Cali, one of the most historic clubs both in Colombia and in South American soccer," Restrepo told Yanks Abroad. "Since my arrival in Colombia, Coach Aponte, his staff and everybody associated with the club have been first class and have made me feel part of the team. I look forward to helping the club going forward and do my part to maintain the tradition of excellence established at America."
"It's a dream come true for me, I'm very thankful to all the coaches and teammates throughout my career that have helped mold me as a soccer player and as a person."
Restrepo is the only key player that the Cavaliers lost this season, as he and reserve defender TJ Cyrus were the only two seniors. Sophomore forward Will Bates and junior forward Brian Ownby both may have had a real shot in the MLS SuperDraft, but ultimately neither was offered a Generation adidas contract (a program which allows select players to leave college early and be paid while pursuing MLS careers).
Though just a sophomore, Bates was the top scorer in 2010, totaling 20 points, on 8 goals and 4 assists, despite missing three-plus games to injuries. Ownby scored 17 points, on 7 goals and 3 assists, and was named to the all-ACC first team.
The Cavaliers had suffered big losses following the 2009 championship year, but with Restrepo as the only casualty this season -- albeit a big one -- Virginia should be on track to be a title contender again this year.
"I'm specially thankful of Coach Gelnovatch, his staff and everybody associated with the University of Virginia. My time as a Cavalier was amazing, and I will always remember the 2009 NCAA Championship season as a very special time in my life. The University of Virginia and Klockner Stadium will always be home to me, and I look forward to coming back to Charlottesville this summer to finish my degree."