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Brookwood's Zimmerman a first-round pick in MLS Draft

Brookwood grad Walker Zimmerman, who just finished his sophomore season at Furman, has signed a Generation Adidas contract with Major League Soccer. He is projected to be a top pick in the upcoming MLS Draft (Photo: Furman University)

Brookwood grad Walker Zimmerman, who just finished his sophomore season at Furman, has signed a Generation Adidas contract with Major League Soccer. He is projected to be a top pick in the upcoming MLS Draft (Photo: Furman University)

It took a little longer than some had predicted, but Brookwood grad Walker Zimmerman was still a high first-round pick in Thursday's Major League Soccer SuperDraft.

Projected to go as high as No. 1 overall, the 19-year-old was selected with the seventh overall pick by FC Dallas. He was the fourth Generation Adidas player, high-profile standouts signed directly by MLS instead of a team, taken in the top seven slots. He is the first Gwinnett product to go in the first round of the MLS draft since Parkview's Jason Moore went No. 1 overall to D.C. United in 1999.

"I'm pumped," Zimmerman said. "It's been a crazy day. You hear one thing and then something else happens. It was just a guessing game to see where we would go. I always wanted to go to the team that wanted me the most and FC Dallas was it. I'm excited about it."

Zimmerman just finished his sophomore season at Furman and signed his Generation Adidas contract in December. That route to MLS soccer has worked well in the past for Gwinnett players like Josh Wolff (when the program was Nike-sponsored Project 40) and Sean Johnson, now the Chicago Fire's starting goalkeeper.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound central defender has played with the U.S. Youth National Team program since the under-14 level. He had six goals and three assists during an All-American sophomore season at Furman and played regularly this year with the U.S. Under-20 National Team that will go through U-20 World Cup qualifying in 2013.

FC Dallas struggled during the 2012 season, but still set a season attendance record for total fans. The club's average attendance of 14,199 also was its highest since 2007 and every crowd reached at least 10,000 fans.

Zimmerman already knows one FC Dallas player — forward Jonathan Top was his teammate on Under-18 and Under-19 U.S. National Teams — and is excited to play alongside star midfielder Brek Shea. Zimmerman expects to join them pretty quickly, with a flight Saturday and workouts beginning next week.

"The past three years (FC Dallas) has drafted defenders and they seem to give their early selections good playing time," Zimmerman said. "Obviously they have some good guys in the defense, so I just want to go in there and compete and learn from the veterans."

Greater Atlanta Christian grad Chris Thomas, who was projected by some to be picked in the first two rounds, went undrafted Thursday. The speedy forward out of Elon earned his second Southern Conference player of the year award last season, when he scored 23 goals. He should be a top candidate for Tuesday's MLS Supplemental Draft.