The Earthquakes went local and filled a need by selecting Stanford midfielder JJ Koval with the ninth overall pick of Thursday's MLS draft in Philadelphia.

Koval, who is 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, is thrilled to remain local as a pro and likes the fit with the Quakes.

"Just very excited to hear my name called," Koval said. "I really had no idea where I was going to end up, and I was just really hoping for an opportunity. For the San Jose Earthquakes to give me that opportunity is just a dream come true."

The Quakes also selected UCLA central defender Joe Sofia in the second round with No. 28 overall pick.

Koval is regarded as a strong, steady player who sees the field well and is a force in the air. The Quakes recently parted ways with mainstay midfielder Rafael Baca but agreed to terms with French central midfielder Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, captain of AC Ajaccio, a Corsican team in Ligue 1, France's premier division.

So Koval will be surrounded by veterans as he adapts to the pace of MLS play.

"We're real excited to have JJ, someone we know a lot about having played at Stanford," Quakes coach Mark Watson said of the Stanford captain. "He fills a positional need on the club, and he has a chance to be a really good pro, He's the guy we wanted.

"He has a chance to be an excellent two-way midfielder."


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Koval, who says he likes to get "stuck-in" and win the ball on challenges, is eager to learn from midfielder Sam Cronin, a role model and the Quakes' team MVP in 2013.

"I've looked up to him for a long time," Koval said of Cronin. "Back when he was playing at Wake Forest even, I remember watching him play in the College Cup. A very good player, and I do look up to him. I'm excited to learn from him."

Quakes general manager John Doyle said they watched Koval play at least 20 times at Stanford last season, They selected forward Adam Jahn of Stanford as a supplemental pick in 2013, and he showed promise as a rookie.

Koval started all 21 Cardinal games last season and was named first-team All-Pac-12 Conference. He thinks his game will work well in San Jose.

"I like to get onto the ball a lot and get forward, so I think that I'll be able to help in many ways," he said. "I want to contribute as much as I can to the club. I also like to win the ball in the air, and I know the Quakes are good at that. They've got a lot of tall guys on the front line, including Adam Jahn. It will be good to be a part of it."

Doyle is also excited about landing Sofia, who is 6-2.

"A strong center back who played a lot of games," Doyle said. "Great program, and we're looking forward to see what he can do."

Quakes draft picks
FIRST ROUND
9. J.J. Koval, midfielder, Stanford
second ROUND
28. Joe Sofia, defender, UCLA
Final two rounds are
Tuesday.