Vancouver Whitecaps FC selected centre back Cole Seiler and strikers Christopher Hellmann and Thomas Sanner on Thursday in the first two rounds of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
Here are some notes and quotes on each of the players.
CENTRE BACK COLE SEILER: 16TH OVERALL
Started 86 of 87 appearances with Georgetown University
- Seiler is one of three Georgetown defenders who were drafted in the first round on Thursday. His centre back partner Josh Yaro went second overall, while right back Keegan Rosenberry went third. “Going into the combine, I was a little nervous,” Seiler said. “I wasn’t really sure how many teams actually knew who I was.”
- The ‘Caps knew. They were one of the three teams who scheduled interviews with him at the combine – and they liked what they heard. They also liked what they saw. “We thought he was the best centre back in the combine,” Robinson said. “He’s different than the other guys that get all the attention, but he’s a smart one.” Robinson and the ‘Caps had Seiler high on their list. Very high. They were exploring opportunities to trade up in the draft to make sure they got him. “Sometimes you get a little bit lucky,” Robinson said. “We stuck with our pick because the team did another deal with someone else, which is fine, and we got the player we wanted.”
- Like Tim Parker, Vancouver’s first-round pick in 2015, Seiler played in the NCAA’s Big East Conference. “I actually really try to emulate my game after his,” Seiler said of Parker. “He’s a bigger guy, but when it’s time for a tackle he doesn’t shy away and gets stuck in. But he also wows people with his foot ability and skill, so I definitely try to emulate my game after his.”
- Seiler did not attend the draft on Thursday. His father is a doctor and one of his business partners recently passed away, so he was unable to clear his schedule. Seiler’s mom offered to drive him up to the draft, but he opted to stay at home to be with his parents. “I thought it was kind of important since the fact that my mom and dad sacrificed so much for me to get this opportunity,” he said. “I needed to be together with them so I decided to stay at home.”
STRIKER CHRISTOPHER HELLMANN: 29TH OVERALL
49 goals and 29 assists in 45 appearances with Lynn University (NCAA Division II)
- Prior to the SuperDraft, MLSsoccer.com analyst Matthew Doyle ranked Hellmann as the third best forward in the draft. Here’s what Doyle had to say after the combine, where Hellmann had two goals and an assist in three games: “His movement has been excellent – he plays the game like a veteran.”
- Robinson said the ‘Caps were aware of Hellmann well before the draft through WFC2 head coach Alan Koch, who saw the German play a number of times as the manager of SFU. “He scores goals, very smart, needs to get fitter,” Robinson said. “But he knows how to put the ball in the back of the net and he’s a different type of player. He’s a smart, thinking player.”
- Hellmann said he had a “really good talk” with Robinson and Koch at the combine and was hoping to get picked by the ‘Caps. His wish was granted.
- Asked how much he knows about the City of Vancouver, Hellmann said: “I only know so much about the city because I’m a huge hockey fan and I follow the Canucks … I’ve never been to Vancouver but everybody has been telling me how amazing it is.” Hellmann said his brother is a hockey player so he spends some of his free time playing ice hockey in the winter. He's also a big fan of The Mighty Ducks movie series.
STRIKER THOMAS SANNER: 36TH OVERALL
32 goals and 15 assists in 64 appearances with Princeton University
- Sanner was the unanimous choice for the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year award in 2015 after leading the league with 13 goals and five assists.
- Sanner was teammates with Montreal Impact forward Cameron Porter at Princeton University. They were actually together at Princeton when Sanner’s name was called on Thursday – he was back at school for exams. “I was in a big room with a bunch of school friends, a bunch of guys on my soccer team,” Sanner said. “I actually didn’t hear the announcement. I was on the phone with my agent, who was talking with Carl Robinson. I just heard all of my friends erupt in the room … it was an incredible experience.”
- Robinson said he sought the opinion of New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch, who previously coached Sanner at Princeton, and he got a “very positive” review. The ‘Caps coach also sang the praises of Sanner’s character: “We know he’s had a good upbringing … his character is second to none.”
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