Soccer players Ikoba ’19 and Donawa ’19 drafted into MLS

by Jake Philhower | 1/25/19 2:00am

Dartmouth men’s soccer team veterans Eduvie Ikoba ’19 and Justin Donawa ’19 were both looking forward to successful senior seasons with the Big Green as two of the team’s top players. Both players faced injuries throughout the season however, and as a result, the team struggled to score goals. Consequently, the team finished with a 4-1-2 Ivy League conference record and suffered its first year without an Ivy League title in the past four years. This marked the only year in which the ’19s class did not bring home an Ivy League title. 

January brought new excitement for the veterans, however. They were both invited to the Major League Soccer combine to be judged by scouts in the US’s premier soccer league. Donawa and Ikoba both had strong tryouts and were curious to see if anyone would take a chance on them at the professional level. Then, at the 2019 MLS Superdraft in Chicago, Ikoba and Donawa were drafted 63 and 66 overall in the 3rd round to FC Dallas and the Columbus Crew respectively. 

“I had a pretty rough senior season in regards to injuries,” Donawa said. “So I knew my chances of getting drafted were slimmer. However, I was still very excited to see if anyone was going to take a chance on me. Thankfully, Columbus Crew SC did, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity they have given me.“

Ikoba seemed to have a bit of a different experience on draft night however, confident that he put his best effort in front of the scouts.

“Truthfully I didn’t follow the MLS draft.” Ikoba said. “At that point I knew I had done everything I could to put myself in a position to get drafted, so I was okay with whatever happened.”

Ikoba went on to explain that preparing for the draft in lieu of his nagging injuries was incredibly difficult, especially on a stage as unforgiving as a professional soccer tryout.

“A lot of people didn’t know, but I was recovering from a third hamstring injury I picked up in December.” Ikoba said. “Because of it, I was unable to train or exercise for most of the time leading up to the combine. At the combine I didn’t feel fully recovered or fit, but I told myself I would give my best effort and leave the rest to God. 

Both players seem very excited to join their respective teams and try to make it at the professional level in soccer. They will have the honor of playing along sides soccer greats such as David Villa and Zlatan Ibrahimović next year, and they both seem quite excited for the opportunity.

“I’m not sure what to expect right now,” Ikoba said, “But I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be part of a great organization at FC Dallas, while also playing with some of the best players in the league.”

Ikoba and Donawa were both vital leaders on the team who will leave a lasting impact on the Dartmouth men’s soccer program. By being leaders amongst one of the winningest classes in Dartmouth soccer history, Donawa and Ikoba have certainly cemented their legacies as all time great members of the Big Green. Both players seem to be particularly fond of the moments they’ve had as a team.

“There are many memories that I’ll cherish,” Ikoba recalled. “But one of my favorites was winning our fourth consecutive Ivy League title in 2017. Having the opportunity to create history with my teammates from each of those championship years is something that I’ll be able to look back on with pride forever.”

Justin also had fond memories regarding his time with the team. He is a proud man who feels the team has helped him grow a lot as a person.

“I think Dartmouth, specifically Dartmouth men’s soccer, has helped me a great deal in preparing for the next level.” Donawa stated. “We created a positive and healthy culture amongst ourselves in the locker room. We didn’t settle for anything less, and this allowed us to create a winning mentality. This is important at the next level, as your job depends on results and performances.”

Regardless of where their professional careers may lead them, Justin and Eduvie have left their lasting imprint on Hanover and a developing soccer powerhouse. They are a part of one of the successful classes of Dartmouth men’s soccer to ever live, and are on to bigger and better things in the MLS.