Home MLS Montreal Impact De Santis assesses Impact’s four draft picks

De Santis assesses Impact’s four draft picks

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The Montreal Impact was unable to improve its draft position between Wednesday afternoon and noon ET Thursday and, as a result, missed out on the best Canadian available, picking up a quartet of U.S. collegians instead.

The team now has three goalkeepers from Ohio but only a pair of Canadian players.

Drafting eighth, the Impact chose midfielder Blake Smith, born 22 years ago today in Boeme, Tex. The 5-foot-10 midfielder spent his college years at the University of New Mexico. On Wednesday, De Santis said the Impact coveted Canadian Kyle Bekker and would try to move up in order to select him. But Bekker went third overall — to his hometown team, Toronto FC.

“Blake Smith was our second choice. From all the reports and all the work that has been done by our staff and the feedback we got from different coaches in college, we’re extremely happy with the pick,” said Impact Sporting Director Nick De Santis after mentioning that he had tried last night to obtain the first or second draft position and that this morning was devoted to going after the third and fourth. “His qualities are his technical skills, the quality of his centering passes. He’s a player who can find room for himself one-on-one or getting into the middle of the pitch to make decisive passes. Now it’s a matter of taking a look at him with the first team and figuring out how long it’ll take him to adapt.”

Fernando Monge was the second acquisition made, using the 18th overall. An offensively minded midfielder who studied at UCLA, he appeared in 15 games with the Seattle Sounders U-23 side last summer, spending over 1,200 minutes on the pitch.

“When we talk about the types of players that we want developing in our academy and on our first team we want soccer players with good technical abilities,” De Santis declared when asked what prompted Montreal to choose the 22-year-old San Diego native. “He’s a second forward, an offensive midfielder that has qualities of making final pass and has the ability to get in the box as well. He’s got good size too, so now it’s what it looks like at the next level. “

The only one of the four men drafted that may not be in camp when it opens on Monday is yet another midfielder, Paolo Del Piccolo, taken with the team’s first pick in the second round, 27th overall. A Lakewood ,Col. native, Del Piccolo played youth soccer with the Colorado Rush, also a stop on Jeb Brovsky’s road to Montreal.

“He’s another player with a lot of qualities as a midfielder. He reads the play well and plays well both offensively and defensively. He’s presently trialling with Eintracht Frankfurt. He was invited to the Combine but decided to go that route when he wasn’t offered an MLS contract beforehand. Now it’s up to us to see if we can bring him to the first team’s camp,” said De Santis.

“He’s a player we followed. We re-read all our reports on him and spoke with his coach just before making the selection and they all say the same thing. He’s a player who is very strong technically, a player who covers a lot of ground and also has a good comprehension of the game.”
Possibly convinced that there’s something in Ohio water that produces superior goalkeepers, the Impact used the 32nd spot on the board to pick up a third Buckeye Stater at the position, 6-foot-3, 180-pounder Brad Stuver.

“He trained with us for a week last summer,” began de Santis when asked about the former Cleveland State player’s chances. “In terms of our third goalkeeper, behind Perkins and Bush, we have Max Crepeau but this season he’s going to be on the U-20 team and we hope they qualify for the U-20 World Cup and that we lose him for a while. Brad has good qualities but it’s also up to the academy players to compete for the slot.”

With only a pair of Canadians on the roster, De Santis is looking inward to reach the mandatory three Canucks he must have on his squad.

“The two best Canadians, Bekker and Emery Welshman, were both taken by Toronto,” he began. “So with that we have to look at our academy. Some of the players will be in camp. Wandrille Lefevre will definitely be there. So will other guys like Maxime Tissot so there will be opportunities for players from the academy to be our third Canadian player.”

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