Comets select three players with local ties in MASL College Draft

by Nathan Dunn

The Kansas City Comets drafted three players in the inaugural MASL College Draft Tuesday afternoon.

With the ninth overall pick in the first round, the Comets selected Atlantic-10 Conference co-Offensive Player of the Year John Klein III out of St. Louis University. The Comets also selected Kansas City area college players Arne Neufang out of UMKC and Jakib Jones out of Park University in the second and third rounds.

All three picks recently concluded their collegiate soccer careers and have local ties.

Klein, a graduate of Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Missouri, was drafted out of the prestigious soccer program that is St. Louis University. Klein’s decorated collegiate resume includes winning A-10 Conference Freshman of the Year in 2018 before receiving All-Conference nods in 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022 as well as A-10 co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2022. Klein also spent time in the Portland Timbers Academy and started 83 games in 88 appearances for the Billikens, recording 29 goals and 27 assists as a midfielder. The Klein name is familiar to the Comets because his father played one season for the Comets in 1990-91 and six seasons for St. Louis.

Comets managing partner Brian Budzinski has high hopes for Klein, “John Klein in our opinion is the top college forwards in this country after playing under coach Kevin Kalish at Saint Louis University. I’ve personally watched John play numerous times and his game is built for the indoor game.”

Neufang, a native of Saarbrücken, Germany, played two seasons with the Kansas City Roos as a midfielder. Neufang was named to the Summit League All-Conference Second Team in 2021 and academic All-Conference in 2022 with a 4.0 GPA. Before coming stateside, Neufang attended Universität des Saarlandes.

Arne has grown tremendously under Coach Ryan Pore at UMKC. His mentality and technical ability are something that has stood out during our evaluations of him,” Budzinski said.

Jones is a recent graduate of Park University, where the forward earned All-Conference honors in 2019 and 2022, ending his career with 34 goals and eight assists in 65 games for the Pirates under head coach and former Kansas City Attack player Efrem Shimlis. Before college, Jones attended Park Hill High School.

“Jakib is a goal scorer pure and simple. He possesses tremendous pace and is a high volume striker. We think Jakib has the potential to contribute right away,” Budzinski added.

Drafted player rights will be protected for the player to go to contract with the team until December 1, 2023.