The Seattle Sounders selected Kalani Kossa-Rienzi with the 23rd pick in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft. The 21-year-old from Berkeley, Calif. spent four years at the University of Washington where he was a key part of the teams that were the No. 2 seed in the NCAA College Cup in 2021 and 2022, including a trip to the College Cup Final in 2021 where the Huskies fell to Clemson 2-0. He reunites with former UW teammate Dylan Teves, which should only help in his adjustment to the team.
Kossa-Rienzi wore the No. 6 jersey for UW, and joins a crowded midfield corps with the Sounders. In Travis Clark’s summary of the top draft prospects in each position, he came in second among defensive midfielders, but Clark also noted that he could potentially play back a line in MLS: "Kossa-Rienzi has been a massive part of UW’s success and is a tough and tenacious player who could get a look at right back.” The Sounders were evidently high on Kossa-Rienzi, and their likely familiarity suggests that they’ll have a plan for him when he joins the club.
Should Seattle see him as a midfielder, he’ll likely see a majority of his minutes in 2024 with Tacoma Defiance where there is a path to First Team minutes. While there are plenty of promising and talented midfielder in the ranks, most of them profile more as an 8 than as a 6. If he can show himself capable of playing that role at an MLS level, filling the spot as a clear option behind João Paulo rather than another option to play beside him would be a huge benefit to the club and a less crowded path to the field.
Kossa-Rienzi wasn’t the most productive player, although six goals and 11 assists in 6,262 minutes isn’t too shabby for a deep midfielder, but he does have the occasional banger in his back pocket. He seemed to have a particular penchant for pulling them out against San Diego State University - something guys like Blake Bowen, Jacob Castro and Elias Katsaros will surely give him a hard time over.