Photo courtesy of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Athletics
After being selected by FC Dallas in the Third Round of the 2017 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, standout Des Moines Menace defender Austin Ledbetter agreed to a contract with the United Soccer League's Saint Louis FC, pending league and federation approval, on Monday.
Born in Saint Louis, Ledbetter played collegiately at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE) from 2013-2016, scoring 6 goals and providing 2 assists over 79 appearances. He also played three seasons in the Premier Development League, suiting up for FC Tucson from 2014-15 and for the Menace in 2016.
“Austin is someone who we are familiar with,” Saint Louis FC General Manager Jeremy Alumbaugh said in a release. “He is a product of the SLSG Development Academy and carried that into a quality four years at SIUE where he lead them to the NCAA Tournament. He is first and foremost a quality person and his leadership has been a trait since a very young age. He has tested himself during the summer months by playing in the PDL and has grown as a player and person because of those experiences. Sometimes things have a way of working out for all involved and to have Austin in a Saint Louis FC uniform is one of those things. We are excited to have him with STLFC.”
Ledbetter played 19 games for FC Tucson in two seasons, helping the club record back-to-back Mountain Division titles. The talented defender earned 2016 PDL All-Central Conference Team honors with the Menace after guiding them to a Heartland Division title. Ledbetter played 11 games for the Menace during the 2016 regular season, helping the franchise record seven shutouts.
As a member of SIUE, Ledbetter earned multiple honors, including 2016 NSCAA First Team All-West Region honors, 2016 Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year honors and the 2016 Missouri Valley Conference Defender of the Year award.
Ledbetter is the latest PDL alum to earn a professional contract in 2017. Menace teammate Sam Brotherton is among the numerous alums to have signed a contract after playing in the PDL in 2016, inking a deal with the English Premier League's Sunderland A.F.C.