Pilot in the Spotlight: A pair of Pilots join the MLS

By Nischal Mali | February 6, 2018 1:13pm


Paul Christensen was drafted with the first pick in the fourth round of the MLS SuperDraft by Atlanta United.

by Brennan Robinson / The Beacon

During the month of January, a pair of University of Portland men’s soccer players, senior goalkeeper Paul Christensen, and senior center back Kris Reaves, signed contracts making them the first UP players to join the MLS in 2018. 

Reaves and Christensen become the 26th and 27th players coached by Carlin-Voigt to play, get drafted, or sign with an MLS team. 

Christensen was selected by Atlanta United FC as the first pick of the fourth round of the 2018 SuperDraft.

“As an organization they’re one of the best in the MLS,” Christensen said. Getting to start his professional career is “awesome” and something that he could have never imagined, he added. 

Reaves, a former FC Dallas academy player, signed a homegrown player contract on January 10th with the team. He joins as the 20th homegrown player in the team’s history  

Kris Reaves signed a homegrown contract with FC Dallas this past January.

by Jeff Braccia / The Beacon

Both players hold an impressive list of accomplishments on the pitch, including winning the Pilots’ first conference championship since 2002. During his time at UP, Christensen served as a starter all four years and was the West Coast Conference Goalkeeper of the Year for his final two. In the 2017 season, he had six clean sheets, bringing him to a total of 20 shutouts during his time at the program in addition to his total 283 saves, making him the number five player in the team’s history in those two categories. 

Reaves earned First Team All-West Coast Conference and was on the All-Far West Region Third Team during his junior year. As a senior, he earned second team all-league, also part of the WCC’s 2017 conference best of six shutouts. 

Reflecting on their time at UP, both players had positive things to say.

“UP has helped me develop as a soccer player by giving me the resources to be able to improve my game,” said Reaves in a press release, citing the university’s coaches and facilities as some of the best in the country. 

He also explained that the nearly 24-7 access to the fields, equipment, and balls allowed him to train more on his own to “sharpen his skills.” Overall, Reaves says that he is “very pleased with [his] time at the University of Portland,” wishing the future men's team good luck and great success.

Reflecting at his time on the Bluff, Christensen said, “My time at UP was incredible, both on and off the field,” and spoke of the close friendships he made along the way. Explaining a reason for his success, Christensen says that he “could not have done it without the help of all [his] teammates, trainers, and coaches at UP.”

On the signings of both players, men’s soccer head coach Nick Carlin-Voigt had words of praise in a press release from the University of Portland. 

“Paul was a class act for the University of Portland and represented the program with the highest levels of integrity, dedication and performance. He leaves The Bluff with a degree and championship ring and will be missed,” Carlin-Voigt said. The coach also commended Christensen’s parents for “raising him the right way,” saying that he couldn’t have asked for a “better leader to champion our culture.” 

Carlin-Voigt says that he is “incredibly proud and thrilled” for Reaves.

“Dallas is signing a great player and even better young man,” Carlin-Voigt said.