In case anyone does not already know, UCSB is a powerhouse when it comes to men’s collegiate soccer. That Gaucho legacy was further enhanced yesterday when two senior UCSB men’s soccer players in defender Peter Schmetz and defensive midfielder Fifi Baiden were drafted in back-to-back picks in the third round of the MLS SuperDraft.
Schmetz was selected with the 41st overall selection in the draft and third pick of the third round by defending MLS Champions Sporting Kansas City. The Columbus Crew immediately followed with the fourth pick of the round, selecting Baiden 42nd overall in the 2014 SuperDraft.
“It’s a dream come true. You do all the hard work and you get rewarded,” Baiden said. “I know the real work lies ahead, but I’m enjoying the moment and enjoying the opportunity that has been presented. I’m very excited right now.”
Schmetz, a native of Germany, finished his three-year career as a Gaucho with quite a number of accolades. This season, Schmetz garnered All-Big West First Team honors despite missing the final five games of the season with injury.
Schmetz was named College Sports Madness Defender of the Year for the Big West. He was sidelined for most of the 2012 season, but was named All-Big West Honorable Mention in 2011 during his first year at UCSB after transferring from Westmont.
Baiden was born in Ghana, coming to California for high school where he caught the eye of UCSB. During his junior season, Baiden garnered All-Big West First Team honors and was selected to the All-Big West Second Team during his senior season.
Despite his 5’8” stature, Baiden played in 78 matches during his four years at UCSB, earning him recognition as the 38th ranked player in Top Drawer Soccer’s 2013 Top-100 College Players list.
“These are pretty high draft picks. Both of these clubs are making an investment in these two players,” UCSB Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “The goal is not to get drafted, but to make the team. It’s a good start for them but now they’ve got work to do to make the squad.”
The duo joins a long list of Gauchos who have gone on to play professionally as 27 UCSB players were drafted by the MLS since 2004.
“That’s why I went to UCSB from the beginning because it’s such a great soccer environment. We have such a great stadium, we have such a great community, we have so many fans at our games, it’s almost already like playing professionally,” Schmetz said. “It’s a great school as well, so it’s just the perfect fit. It just gets you ready to go to the next level.”
Baiden and Schmetz will not have long to celebrate their most recent achievements as both leave Santa Barbara with degrees already in hand. Baiden leaves Thursday to Columbus to complete a physical before traveling with the team for preseason training in Florida on Saturday morning. Schmetz will arrive in Kansas City on Friday for a physical and depart with the team for Tucson, Arizona where preseason training will begin Saturday.
“Both of them have been training on their own hoping to get this opportunity,” Vom Steeg said. “These are two players who have always worked hard during their time at UCSB, and hopefully things fall in place for them.”
A version of this article appeared on page 9 of January 22, 2013′s print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Peter Vandenbelt of The Daily Nexus.