Austin FC drafted Pitt senior midfielder Valentin Noel at the No. 20 pick in the 2023 MLS Superdraft Wednesday night.
Noel is the second Panther to earn a draft pick in Round One, with junior forward Bertin Jacquesson going to Real Salt Lake at the No. 16 pick. He earns the second highest draft slot in Panthers history, behind Jacquesson, and seventh Panther to earn a draft pick overall.
The first draft pick saw midfielder/defender Pol Calvet Planellas to the LA Galaxy at the No. 24 pick in the Round Two in 2018. Los Angeles FC drafted midfielder Javi Perez in Round Three at the No. 64 pick in 2019 and New England Revolution selected forward Edward Kizza in Round One at the No. 24 pick in 2021.
It is hard to say that there might be any player better than Noel was at Pitt during his four seasons.
Noel made the First-Team All-American in 2020-21 and Third-Team All-American in 2022. He also made the All-ACC First team in 2020-21 and 2022, All-ACC Second Team in 2021 and All-ACC Freshman team in 2019.
His 35 career goals are second most all-time in program history, and his 83 career points are third most. His 13 career assists are level for the eighth most all time in Pitt history.
He also finishes with a 0.45 goals per game over his career, second best in Panthers history. His 1.08 points per game ranks third best and his 0.17 assists per game ranks seventh best all-time in a career for the Panthers.
Like Jacquesson, Noel played a big part in helping Pitt make it to the College Cup two of the past three seasons.
Noel led the team with 11 goals in 2022, including four in the NCAA Tournament. That included two penalty kick goals in the 3-0 victory over Akron in the Second Round, the game tying goal in the Kentucky match in the Sweet 16 and then the game winner over Portland last Saturday in the Elite Eight. Noel finished first on the Panthers with 25 points this season as well.
He scored a team and career-high 14 goals in 19 games in 2020-21, as his 0.74 goals per game ranks second best in a season at Pitt.