Preview: Whitecaps FC set for 2015 MLS SuperDraft

VANCOUVER, BC – What are Vancouver Whitecaps FC looking for in the upcoming MLS SuperDraft?

It’s not rocket science. They want “some more talent,” according to head coach Carl Robinson.

Robinson will look to bolster his young squad on Thursday when the 2015 MLS SuperDraft takes place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The draft will be streamed live on whitecapsfc.com at 9:30 a.m. PT.

Here’s everything you need to know about the draft.

WHITECAPS FC SUPERDRAFT PICKS

Pick

Round

How Acquired

13th

First

Natural

38th

Second

From DC United in a trade for Alain Rochat

54th

Third

Natural

58th

Third

From DC United in a trade for for Long Tan

61st

Third

From New England Revolution in a trade for Brad Knighton

72nd

Fourth

From Portland Timbers in a trade for Michael Nanchoff

74th

Fourth

Natural


Note: Rounds 3 and 4 of the draft will take place via conference call on January 20.

Barring a trade, Vancouver’s first-round pick (13th overall) would be their lowest since joining MLS. They also have one pick in the second round (38th overall).

“Over the last couple of years, someone told me we’ve picked one, two, three, four, and five,” Robinson said. “We don’t have that at the moment unless we decide to trade up or down, which I don’t know if we’re going to do. Having a later pick in the first round, we’ll let the other clubs fight for the top picks but we want to bring someone in that will contribute in MLS.”

Despite having a lower first-round pick than in previous years, Robinson said the draft is still “an important piece of the puzzle” for the club.

“Without a doubt,” he said. “Look at last year, there are a number of players that came out and played regular minutes in MLS. You look for players that will help you. Now more clubs are going down the Residency academy route as well, which I think is important, but it’s about having different avenues to get good players within your team and the combine/draft is certainly one of them.”

DRAFT BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE OR BY POSITIONAL NEED?

“A bit of both really,” Robinson said. “We spoke about it as a group and if it comes to our pick and the best player available is a number 10, we have Pedro Morales, we have Nicolas Mezquida and Marco Bustos, so would you pick the best player available or would you pick the next best player that you think is a position specific player? We’re still looking for the answers on that one.”

HISTORY

The ‘Caps have a total of seven former MLS SuperDraft picks on their roster: Steven Beitashour, Christian Dean, Jordan Harvey, Erik Hurtado, Kekuta Manneh, Darren Mattocks, and Andre Lewis. Aside from Beitashour and Harvey, each of these players were selected by Whitecaps FC.

FINDING A GEM

Former Whitecaps FC women’s head coach Alan Koch, now the head coach at SFU, has been supporting Whitecaps FC’s SuperDraft scouting efforts this year. And he believes there’s “definitely some talent” available in this year’s draft class.

“The interesting thing with the draft is that everyone knows about the higher-ranked players,” Koch said. “However, we have a bunch of lower picks this year and we’re hoping that with the work we’ve done, we’re going to be able to identify players that other teams have skipped over. We’re hoping to get a few diamonds in the rough later that could turn out to be big-time players for us.”

Read more about how Koch has been helping out with the club’s SuperDraft preparations.

DRAFT CLASS

Major League Soccer has signed five players to Generation adidas contracts ahead of Thursday’s draft. Generation adidas players don’t count against a team’s salary budget, making them much more attractive to prospective teams. From MLSsoccer.com:

2015 Generation adidas class

GK Alex Bono – Syracuse (Baldwinsville, N.Y.)
The junior goalkeeper had a standout 2014, earning an NSCAA first-team All-American nod and netting the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award to help the Orange to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

D Conor Donovan – North Carolina State (Fuquay-Varina, N.C.)
Just a freshman, Donovan notched one goal and one assist in 15 total appearances for N.C. State. The US youth international is currently with Tab Ramos and the US U-20s at the CONCACAF U-20 Championships in Jamaica.

F Cyle Larin – UConn (Brampton, Ontario, Canada)
The American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year, the sophomore led UConn with nine goals in 2014. Like Donovan, Larin is in Jamaica for the CONCACAF U-20 Championships, where he’ll play for his native Canada.

M Cristian Roldan – Washington (Pico Rivera, Calif.)
The sophomore midfielder enjoyed a strong career at Washington, earning the 2013 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors and a 2014 NSCAA All-American third-team nod while recording 10 goals and seven assists in 41 career games with the Huskies.

F/M Romario Williams – Central Florida (Portmore, Jamaica)
A back-to-back first-team all-conference selection and a Jamaican youth international, Williams bagged seven goals and three assists in 17 appearances in 2014. 

The league has also signed 12 college seniors in advance of the draft:

Saad Abdul-Salaam (D – Akron)
Fatai Alashe (M – Michgan State)
Akeil Barrett (F – Tulsa)
Nick Besler (M – Notre Dame)
Andy Craven (F – North Carolina)
Connor Hallisey (M – California)
Boyd Okwuonu (D – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Otis Earle (D – UC Riverside)
Ramon Martin Del Campo (D – University of California, Davis)
Dan Metzger (M – University of Maryland)
Khiry Shelton (F – Oregon State)
Andy Thoma (M/D – University of Washington)

Click here to see the list of other MLS Combine invitees. 

Participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver! 2015 Whitecaps FC Season Tickets are on sale now. In addition to Season Tickets, Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, Student Half-Season Tickets, and a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket. For more information on 2015 Season Tickets, visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.

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