By Ryan Maquiñana
Special to S.F. Examiner
The San Francisco Glens have been a fixture in the local soccer community for nearly 60 years, but they’ve never enjoyed a moment quite like the one on Friday in Chicago.
Sam Junqua and Roy Boateng became the first Glens in club history to hear their names called in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft when they were selected in the first round.
Fellow Glens forward Shinya Kadono, who led the Pac-12 last season with 12 goals for Cal, is also projected to be picked in Sunday’s later rounds.
“It’s a great day for San Francisco soccer,” said Glens team president Mike McNeill. “I’m really proud of Sam and Roy. This is something tangible for our youth players to aspire to as they start getting opportunities to get called up to our USL League Two team in the future.”
Junqua, a six-foot defender from Saratoga, shocked many observers when he was taken eighth overall by Houston Dynamo. Originally pegged to go after the second round, he saw his stock skyrocket with a strong performance as a left back at last Wednesday’s MLS Combine Games in Orlando. The Cal alum’s versatility was on display with the Glens when he played both defender and midfielder with adept skills on the ball.
“I kind of flew under the radar, but I’m glad to have an organization that believes in me,” Junqua said. “I’m excited to get started.”
Boateng, a 6-foot-2 central defender, was chosen by the New York Red Bulls with the 16th overall pick. Sporting a 36-inch vertical leap and 3.98-second 30-yard dash, the Rohnert Park resident by way of Ghana earned back-to-back Big West Conference Defender of the Year honors with UC Davis. Boateng had a vital role in helping anchor the Glens’ back line during their first season in the USL Premier Development League, now known as USL League Two.
“It means a lot,” Boateng said shortly after being drafted. “The Glens have been like a home now to me. The people have rallied behind us and it means the world.”
Founded in 1961 as an amateur club in the old San Francisco Soccer Football League by Dr. Michael McFadden with the backing of the Irish community, the Glens have since opened their doors to everyone. After adding over 70 youth teams and approximately 1,300 active players in the past decade, they are currently the largest soccer club in The City.
Harboring ambitions to enter the professional ranks, the Glens established a franchise in the lower-division USL League Two, where despite being an expansion team in 2018, they finished the season on a four-game unbeaten streak.
With Friday’s news serving as a ringing endorsement of the Glens’ talent level on the field, the club appears to be on a trajectory toward something bigger heading into their second year at Boxer Stadium in Balboa Park.
“I’m very excited to see Junqua and Boateng get drafted so high,” said Glens head coach Javier Ayala-Hil. “USL League Two is a great platform and we’re happy to keep giving players opportunities to reach their full potential.”
Of course, now the Glens must replace their two stars, a task that partially falls to new technical director Jimmy Conrad. The former U.S. National Team captain and San Jose Earthquakes All-Star has already traveled to multiple combines to scout for the team before the Glens hold their own tryouts at Beach Chalet on Feb. 24. The Glens’ preseason starts in April.
“We need to make sure that we’re uncovering all of the incredible talent that we know exists in this part of the country as we look to build upon what we put together last season,” Conrad said. “But no doubt, to see Sam and Roy get drafted in the first round is a very proud day for our club.”