CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte FC scored a top MLS SuperDraft pick, taking in a top midfielder from Maryland at the start of the day.
Ben Bender was the team's pick during the draft, in which they were able to select the very first player overall. After the draft concluded, the club shared more about Bender's history on the field.
Bender is currently a sophomore at the University of Maryland and was able to close out his season with seven goals and five assists, leading the Terrapins to a 12-4-2 overall record. He was named a United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American and the Big Ten's Midfielder of the Year. Before he was drafted in, Bender was also one of eight collegiate underclassmen signed to a Generation Adidas contract, which will not be charged against Charlotte FC's annual salary budget.
As a freshman, the 6-foot 165-pound Baltimore native started for all 11 games with the Terrapins, finding the net twice. He was then named to the All-Big Ten Second Team and All-Big Ten Freshman Team. Before getting to college, he prepped at Calvert Hall College High School in Towson, Maryland. There, he was named a 2019 Allstate All-American during his senior year of high school. He also played club soccer for Baltimore Armour.
Bender would not mark the end of picks for Charlotte FC, however; the club also scored two picks from colleges in the Carolinas.
Wake Forest forward Kyle Holcomb was also selected to play in the Queen City. Lauded as finishing a strong four-year career, the California native tied for seventh in career goals in the program's history. As a senior in 2021, Holcomb was named a United Soccer Coaches Second-Team All-American and All-ACC First-Team, leading the team to an NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance with 12 goals and four assists.
Clemson's George Marks, meanwhile, will be moving back a bit closer to home. The goalkeeper from Raleigh started full-time for the Tigers for three years, leading the team to a 2021 NCAA National Championship as a senior. He notched 47 wins, 21 shutouts, and more than 6,000 minutes on the field, all good for 3rd all-time in the program's history. He also attended two U-20 U.S. National Team Camps and was a member of the North Carolina FC Youth Academy.
The addition of Marks, Holcomb, and Bender now means Charlotte FC has 23 members on the roster: three goalkeepers, nine defenders, seven midfielders, and four forwards.
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