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Johnson a likely MLS draft pick

Had he put his full attention to it, Sean Johnson could have been quite a basketball player. Tall, athletic and active around the basket, he started for Brookwood as a sophomore.

Coaches saw his potential in that sport, but Johnson and others knew his future was even brighter on the soccer field.

So he jumped at every opportunity to further his soccer career, even if it meant missing time from basketball. He accepted an offer to play for Jamaica's under-17 national team (his parents are natives), and recently played for the U.S. Under-20 World Cup championship team, satisfying a dream to play for his home country.

Another of his soccer goals could become reality today. The 20-year-old is an expected early selection in the MLS SuperDraft.

"Obviously the higher you go, the better," Johnson said from the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., MLS Combine, which concluded Tuesday. "Hopefully I just end up with a good team and a good situation."

Johnson is one of 172 players in the league's draft pool -- that also includes Norcross grad Steven Kinney -- and he is considered one of the top prospects. Athletic enough that he played forward for his high school teams at Brookwood, his size and reach make him an ideal goalkeeper.

While some in the draft pool are eligible because their college careers are ending, Johnson is in a more elite group. He is one of 12 players signed by MLS as its 2010 class of Generation Adidas, which signs promising players (who don't count against MLS teams' salary budget) and gives them grants to continue their college education. All 12 players are between the ages of 18 and 20.

Nine Generation Adidas signees, including MLS rookie of the year Omar Gonzalez and No. 1 pick Steve Zakuani, were selected in the first round of last year's draft.

Johnson, who will attend today's draft at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, has a good chance to follow that path today. He left Central Florida early for the opportunity.

"I could only say I've dreamed about this since I was a little kid," Johnson said. "You dream of getting your name called and signing a professional contract. It's all close to becoming a reality so it's kind of surreal. I'm just going to soak it up and enjoy it."

Kinney, who graduated from Elon College in December, is more in limbo at today's draft. He isn't sure if he'll be selected, but his chances were improved by the MLS Combine, where he was one of only 76 players from the draft pool to earn an invitation.

The former Norcross standout is a steady defender. He played center back in college, but can play all across the back line.

"I'm not too sure about the draft," Kinney said. "Hopefully the combine will improve my chances. I'm just hoping for the best and we'll see how it goes."

If pro soccer doesn't work out, the 22-year-old has a good backup plan. He graduated from Elon last month with an accounting degree.

The first hour of today's MLS Draft will be aired live on ESPN2, while the remainder of the coverage will be on www.MLSnet.com. Another coveted prospect in the draft also is a Georgian, Jack McInerney. The 17-year-old Alpharetta resident joined Johnson on the under-20 national team and in the Generation Adidas class.