Toronto FC got a package deal Friday when it took Indiana University winger Griffin Dorsey sixth overall in the MLS SuperDraft in Chicago.
Dorsey, a U.S. under-20 international, brought a friend – eight-year-old Caleb Anderson of McCourtsville, Ind.
Anderson was born with common variable immune deficiency, chronic sinusitis, irritable bowel syndrome and recurrent Clostridium difficile, as well as reactive arthritis. He wears a mask because his white blood cells are decreasing, and his Immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels are dropping.
After his name was announced at the draft, Dorsey took the stage at McCormick Place.
Quoting U.S. hockey coach Herb Brooks from the film Miracle on Ice, Dorsey said: “Great moments are born from great opportunity.”
“This quote describes today,” Dorsey continued. “My entire life I’ve been blessed with great opportunities that have led to this great moment – (U.S.) youth national team, Indiana University, and (Colorado) Rush Academy – I’ve so many people to thank for those opportunities.”
Dorsey then asked Anderson to stand up in the audience.
“Caleb has been an inspiration to me over this past year,” Dorsey said. “He was born less fortunate than most as he was born with a tough diagnosis including immune deficiency. He is a fighter and has shown me how to stay positive and energetic even during tough times. I play for you Caleb.
“Finally, I would like to thank Toronto for drafting me and giving me this great opportunity. I can’t wait to create great moments.”
Dorsey is an underclassman who signed a Generation Adidas contract with MLS, an attractive deal in that it does not count against a team salary cap.
The 19-year-old native of Evergreen, Colo., played two seasons for the Hoosiers with eight goals and 11 assists in 42 games.
Caleb’s mother Sue Anderson e-mailed Indiana University head coach Todd Yeagley before a game against Maryland in early October. She told him about his medical condition, saying while her son loved soccer, his health kept him from playing.
“We’re so proud of our son because he faces a lot of stuff that’s not easy,” Sue told the Hoosier Network. “He’s constantly having scans done, needles injected into him. It’s really hard for a child to go through that at such a young age.”
The soccer team invited the family to see the match, made him honorary captain and brought him into the locker room before the game.
A bond developed. The team sent Caleb videos and invited him to more games including the Big Ten tournament and NCAA College Cup, where Indiana lost in the semi-finals.
“It was pretty cool for them to make him part of the family,” Indiana assistant coach Zac Brown said in an interview.
“He’s a fighter,” he added. “He’s a really awesome kid. He always comes with a smile when he’s around and he inspires all of us associated with the program.”
As for Dorsey, Brown describes him as “an athletic dynamic player.”
Dorsey played on the right side of midfield for Indiana but says he can play on both sides, as well as forward and outside back.
“I can play whatever the club needs,” he said.
A winger able to deliver crosses was part of Toronto’s wish list going into the draft.
“We saw a player that’s versatile … Depending on our needs we’ll see where he fits in,” said Toronto GM Ali Curtis.
Dorsey said he was looking forward to coming to Toronto, where he will reconnect with fellow U.S. under-20 international Ayo Akinola.
The six-foot, 160-pounder has never been to Canada before but said he felt a connection with Toronto officials at the MLS Combine.
“I thought I showed pretty well at the Combine and they put their trust in me,” he said. “I’m excited to get started.”
Vancouver and Montreal had traded away their first-round picks.