HAJI SIGNS GENERATION ADIDAS DEAL, ENTERS 2019 MLS DRAFT

RICHMOND, Va. – VCU Men's Soccer junior midfielder Siad Haji has signed a Generation adidas contract with Major League Soccer and is now eligible for selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft held in Chicago on Jan. 11.

Haji is the second player in VCU history to sign a GA contract, joining Jason Johnson, who was selected by the Houston Dynamo with the 13th overall pick in the 2013 MLS Superdraft. Haji is seeking to become the 10th VCU standout to be selected in the MLS SuperDraft, which dates back to 2005, and the seventh Ram selected under head coach Dave Giffard.

Both Rams who have signed Generation adidas contracts were recruited and played under Giffard. Generation adidas is a joint venture between MLS and adidas and identifies a handful of the top collegiate underclassmen and youth national team players each year. The No. 1 overall selection in the MLS Superdraft each year dating back to 2003 has been a Generation adidas class member.

This past season, the Manchester, N.H. native was named a TopDrawerSoccer First Team All-American, as well as the United Soccer Coaches All-Southeast Region First Team. Haji was also named the Atlantic 10 Midfielder of the Year and earned A-10 First Team honors after scoring five goals and adding 10 assists. Haji has also appeared for the U.S. National Team at various youth levels, most recently being called up the U.S. U-20 team last summer.

"The last two years at VCU have been nothing but a blessing. I'd like to thank my coaches Dave Giffard, Matt Cannady and Brett Teach along with all of my teammates. I'd also like to thank the academic staff and tutors for always pushing me to do well not only on the field, but also in the classroom. Finally, I want to thank my family who have always supported me and shown me love since day one and have accepted each obstacle that's been thrown at me on this journey. I'm ready to work and I'm truly excited for this blessing and opportunity that Allah has provided for me," said Haji.

Throughout his tenure with VCU, Giffard has had consistent and proven success developing his student-athletes to reach their ultimate potential, both on and off the field.

Under Giffard, VCU has had a Ram selected in the MLS SuperDraft six times overall in the last six years. Haji would join Rafael Andrade Santos (D.C. United, 2018), Dakota Barnathan (Sporting KC, 2017), Dennis Castillo (Colorado Rapids, 2017), Kharlton Belmar (Portland Timbers, 2015), Jason Johnson (Houston Dynamo, 2013), and Juan Arbelaez (Montreal Impact, 2013) as the Rams recent draft picks. As a collegiate head coach or assistant dating back to 2006, Giffard has helped develop 13 total Generation adidas class members.

Prior to Giffard's tenure, Dominic Oduro was the No. 22 overall pick to FC Dallas (2nd round) in 2006, Stephen Shirley went No. 29 overall (3rd round) in 2006 to Kansas City and Gonzalo Segares went No. 35 overall (3rd round) to Chicago in 2005.

The development process Giffard has been implementing since joining VCU helped land Haji his Generation Adidas contract with Major League Soccer.

"Obviously we are really excited for Siad. He's a young man who has traveled a windy road to get to this point in his career and is ready to begin his journey as a pro. This was our hope a year and a half ago when we began this process with him. We believed that he could get far enough along in that time period to be ready to move on under the Generation Adidas umbrella. It's a great way for young players to begin their journey as a professional player here in the U.S. and Siad is an incredibly talented young man with a bright future ahead of him. As always, we'll be here to support him as we are with all of our alumni in the professional game," Giffard stated.

In his two-year career in the Black & Gold, he scored seven goals and 18 assists, en route to 32 total points, while guiding the Rams to the Atlantic 10 Championship and an NCAA appearance as the No. 16 seed in 2017 and the A-10 Regular Season Title this past season.

Generation adidas player salaries are not charged against an MLS team's annual salary budget and provide an added incentive for the club that selects a GA player to develop them. Eventually, these GA players graduate to senior player contracts and their salaries are charged against a team's budget.