Portland Timbers select Dawson McCartney in MLS SuperDraft

by Olivia Morton and Benjamin Ashley | 2/2/21 2:00am

Source: Courtesy of Dawson McCartney

On Jan. 21, Dawson McCartney, former Dartmouth midfielder and member of the Class of 2021, was selected 43rd overall in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft by the Portland Timbers, becoming the fifth player from Dartmouth drafted to play in MLS in the past four years. 

McCartney spent three seasons at Dartmouth before transferring to the University of Notre Dame in December. During his time at Dartmouth, McCartney was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2017 after finishing the season with two goals and a team-high eight assists while helping lead the Big Green to an Ivy League title with a 6-0-1 record in conference play. He followed up his stellar freshman campaign with six goals and six assists over the next two seasons, earning Second Team All-Ivy honors each year.

McCartney said making it into MLS has been a lifelong goal.

“It’s been one of my dreams ever since I can remember,” McCartney said. “It was an amazing feeling.”

Teammate Tiger Graham ’21 said he was “really excited” to hear McCartney had been drafted into MLS.

“I think it’s a big achievement for him,” Graham said. “I know playing professionally was his big goal, so I’m glad to see he was able to make it happen.”

McCartney looks back fondly on his time at Dartmouth, particularly appreciating his teammates and their impact on his Dartmouth experience.

“I loved all my years at Dartmouth,” McCartney said. “[I] couldn’t have asked for a better three years. I had an amazing group of guys. … Just an amazing experience.”

Before arriving at Dartmouth, McCartney played soccer at YSC Academy, a high school that combines academics with a rigorous soccer program run by the Philadelphia Union Academy, an MLS team development program. McCartney worked his way through the Union Academy onto Bethlehem Steel FC, a United Soccer League affiliate team, and made his professional debut during his senior year of high school.

Graham, who played with McCartney in high school and at Dartmouth, emphasized McCartney’s desire to win as a quality that always stood out.

“Every day in training, he was the hardest working player,” Graham said. “He hates losing. It doesn’t matter how small of a drill [or] game it is. ... [McCartney] will do whatever it takes to be the winner at the end of the game.”

Dartmouth head coach Bo Oshoniyi echoed Graham’s sentiments. 

“Every training session, every match that we played, he always walked off as the best player on the field,” Oshoniyi said. “That was because of his intensity, his willingness to work hard [and] his willingness to pick up teammates as well — he was just phenomenal with that.”

The pandemic-delayed season threw a wrench in what would likely have been a typical ascent to MLS for McCartney. His reporting date is unclear, but he hopes to begin playing in Portland soon.

While McCartney was the only Ivy League player drafted this year, he joins four other former Big Green players drafted in recent years: Matt Danilack ’18, Justin Donawa ’19, Eduvie Ikoba ’19 and Wyatt Omsberg ’18.

For now, McCartney plans to focus on earning a spot on the Timbers roster.

“My immediate goal is to earn a contract,” McCartney said. “Obviously nothing is handed to me. I have an opportunity to go out there and prove myself and earn a spot on the roster. … From there, [I want to] try to be as much of an impact player as I possibly can over the year.”