Josh Drack’s journey to the professional ranks saw him selected as the 16th overall pick by the Los Angeles Galaxy in last Thursday’s 2021 MLS SuperDraft. Now, the real work begins as he tries to earn his way into the first team in an entirely new position.
After wrapping up a college soccer career that saw him play at Grand Canyon University and the University of Denver, the 21-year-old is ecstatic about being among the top picks in this year’s draft, especially for one of the most decorated team’s in the league.
“There were a lot of emotions running through my mind when I was picked,” Drack told SBI Soccer. “Obviously, I was happy and excited, but most of all I was proud of my journey of how I’ve gotten to the point I’m at now. I couldn’t be more happy that the Galaxy picked me. Been a fan of the team since I was a little boy in the Beckham days and I believe there’s no better place to be.”
Words can’t describe how I’m feeling in this moment in time. Grateful for everyone who has been a part of my journey. Thank you @LAGalaxy for the opportunity and I can’t wait to be Blue, White, and Gold 💪 pic.twitter.com/vTR90y2skc
— Josh Drack (@JoshDrack) January 22, 2021
In a time when American soccer’s top young talents are signing homegrown contracts with MLS clubs or heading to Europe, the Chandler, Arizona native came through the college ranks before pursuing a professional career. The MLS Draft has continued to produce impact players, such as Daryl Dike and Henry Kessler from the 2020 draft, and Drack believes his time in college has prepared him to follow a similar path to success.
“College soccer has helped me immensely in my development as a player. Jamie Franks and the staff as well as my teammates at the University of Denver have pushed me to be the best person, player, and leader I can be and there are no words to describe how thankful I am for them,” Drack said.
“College soccer has allowed me to grow mentally and take ownership of whatever happens with the team and if things aren’t going as planned it is up to me as a leader to get things fixed so the team can be successful.”
"A player like @JoshDrack really makes sense for us…We're excited to add him in."
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) January 21, 2021
Drack is no stranger to MLS, and counts it as an early inspiration as he came up as an aspiring player. During his high school years, Drack had the opportunity to head to the Pacific Northwest to train at the Portland Timbers Academy. He noted that playing at that level compared with his high school team gave him perspective on what it would take for him to reach the professional level.
“At the time, I was very young and naive and definitely wasn’t ready to take the next step to be a pro,” the Hamilton High School alum said. “Playing with better players and having high-level coaches obviously improved my game but the biggest thing that stuck out to me was that I had to grow up mentally.
“I was living on my own without my family and felt lonely at times and I know that that will happen when I get to the pro level,” Drack said. “It was high standard playing in an MLS academy because of how close we were to the USL and first team. Each day was an opportunity to get better and prove that one day I can play in the MLS.”
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) January 22, 2021
Now, after honing his skills at the youth and the collegiate levels, the former Gatorade Arizona Soccer Player of the Year is headed to the big stage with five-time MLS Cup champions. He will do so playing in a completely different position as he is expected to be converted to a left back.
Drack’s first true taste of the position came during the College Invitational Combine in Kansas City last November. His lack of familiarity with the left back role didn’t stop him from being one of the more impressive prospects on display, delivering a performance that helped boost his draft stock and turn him into the highest-rated left back prospect in the draft.
“As a modern left back I know I need to be able to defend first and foremost but also get in the attack and give an option on the wings to take players one on one as well as combine and put in a final product to create chances for my team,” Drack said. “I look forward to growing as a player more and more as I play the position full-time and continue to learn from the coaching staff in front of me.”
Newly-hired LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney went into the draft looking to add some depth at left back, despite having recently signed veteran Jorge Villafana to be the team’s starter.
“One of the spots we don’t have a lot of depth at coming through the academy part and looking more long term is at left back, which is where a player like Josh Drack really makes sense for us in the short-term but also in the long-term. So we’re excited to have him in,” Vanney said in an interview after the draft.
Drack is not low on confidence as he prepares to head to Los Angeles to compete for a spot on the Galaxy’s first team. With the team in rebuilding mode following a dismal 2020 season, Drack will be hoping to help the team he followed as a child return to prominence while also helping his pro career get off to a flying start.
“This opportunity is what I’ve been working towards my whole life and that is to be a professional footballer and make a great career out of it,” Drack said. “I’m going to take it day by day and I’m so pumped to bring my winning mentality and hard work to give my all to the club and city of Los Angeles to bring MLS Cup back to where it belongs.”