It was a surprise to many, but Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie had a hunch Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks would fall to No. 2 in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
“I think I was less surprised than everyone else was," Rennie said of the Montreal Impact’s decision to overlook Mattocks and take Duke's Andrew Wenger with their No. 1 pick. "Going around our table before the first pick, we did a little straw poll and I did say that I thought Wenger would go first. Everybody else thought that Mattocks would go first and I think a lot of other teams here thought that Mattocks would go first. We had a lot of interest from other teams once we secured his rights.”
But once it was clear that Mattocks, the player most observers had projected as the No. 1 pick in this year's SuperDraft, was available, there was only one choice for Whitecaps FC.
With 39 goals in 47 games at the college level for the University of Akron Zips and a NCAA Division I championship in 2010 – current ‘Caps midfielder Michael Nanchoff was also part of that team – Whitecaps FC selected the 21-year-old, despite his MLS Combine performance, not because of it.
“I think the Combine didn’t show his strengths," Rennie said. "He’s not a great back-to-goal player. He’s much better going in behind with his movement and his quality and pace, so I don’t think that we saw anything at the Combine that made us think more about him, it was things we’d seen before and things we heard about him already.”
Vancouver also continued to bolster their backline, adding left-footed Indiana University fullback Chris Estridge with the 21st overall pick in the second round.
“He can play with both feet on either side, so he brings a lot to the table," Rennie said. "I think we need a bit more depth defensively, so I really wanted to make sure that we got a defender out of the draft and I’m very pleased that we got Chris."
Rennie seemed to enjoy the draft experience and is looking forward to getting more hands on with his players when preseason starts later this month.
"I had fun with it, getting a better understanding of how it all works and what went with it, with the combine, the draft and everything else," Rennie said. "I had a great time and now I’m just looking forward to working with the players, getting into training camp, and getting started.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com