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SuperDraft: Impact chooses defence over offence, Whitecaps get Mattocks, TFC adds to midfield logjam

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Andrew Wenger
The Montreal Impact chose a complete player over high scoring potential.

With the first pick of the 2012 SuperDraft, MLS commissioner announced — in French — that the Impact had selected Duke University defender Andrew Wenger with its first pick, leaving high-scoring University of Akron star Darren Mattocks to the Vancouver Whitecaps, who had the second pick.

Mattocks scored 39 times over the course of two NCAA season with the Zips. And, he scored more collegiate goals in his time with Akron than other former Zip stars Steve Zakuani and Teal Bunbury.

But Wenger, listed as a defender in the draft, can be used all over the pitch. He won the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy as the top played in the NCAA this past season — and scored 17 times after Duke’s coaching staff took him off the back line and made him a forward.

He told RDS that he’s willing to take on any position in the Impact formation — and it’s that complete package that gave Wenger the edge over Mattocks in the minds of the Impact’s brass. And, Wenger went to the same Lancaster County, Pa. high-school as Impact teammate Zarek Valentin.

“I like to make a difference, I like to make things happen, I like to have fun,” Wenger told RDS.

Later, Mattocks told MLSsoccer.com that Vancouver fans can expect to see “lightning pace and a lot of goals” in his rookie season. The kid is not short on confidence.

Toronto FC promised that it would take the best players available in the draft, regardless of position. And the Reds stayed true to their word, as they selected Luis Silva, a playmaking midfielder from the University of Calfornia-Santa Barbara, with the fourth overall pick. The centre of the 4-3-3 is arguably TFC’s most crowded spot, with Julian de Guzman and Terry Dunfield already there. Joao Plata can be used as a playmaking midfielder. But, Silva was the player TFC felt had the most talent of anyone at No. 4.

Aaron Maund
TFC also had New York’s No. 12 pick, and addressed the area of greatest need — the centre of defence. Aaron Maund was a starter in the centre of defence throughout his collegiate career at Notre Dame, and the six-foot-one centre-half may actually get more of a chance to play with TFC in his first MLS season than Silva, even if Silva is a better long-term prospect.

In the second round, the Montreal Impact pleased headline writers across North American with the selection of Marquette’s Calum Mallace, the 2011 Big East Midfielder of the Year. He’s more of a holding midfielder. Looking at the Impact’s line up so far, this is a team that has one proven MLS goalscorer (Brian Ching) but who is on the wrong side of 30. Justin Braun is a streaky scorer. And it’s hard to see from where goals will come after those two players. The Impact surprised many by not going for any pure offensive talents with its picks.

Chris Estridge
The Whitecaps took University of Indiana defender Chris Estridge with their second-round pick. He was a unanimous selection as a defender on the all-Big Ten team in 2011.

“In our opinion, Chris Estridge is one of the best right backs in the draft and we’re pleased that he was still available for selection,” said Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie in a release. “Chris can play with both feet on either side of the field and he brings a lot to the table. We needed a bit more depth defensively and I really wanted to make sure that we got a defender out of this draft. I’m very pleased that we got Chris.”

While a potential trade that would see Portland send striker to Kenny Cooper to the New York Red Bulls for future draft picks and allocation money was rumoured at the start of the draft, it has yet to be officially announced. If it doesn’t happen, we can conclude that, as a PR exercise, the 2012 SuperDraft was moribund.

But the perceptions of the impact of the 2012 draft will change if either Wenger or Mattocks can live up to their promise.

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