by Kali Korbis, Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake made a statement for the future in Thursday’s SuperDraft, selecting Enzo Martinez, Diogo de Almeida, and Sebastian Velasquez as the team looks to add depth ahead of the 2012 MLS season.
Despite not picking until #17 in the first round, RSL’s coaches and staff were quite pleased with their picks.
The team’s official Twitter page reported that GM Garth Lagerwey was “giddy” over landing Martinez, a Generation Adidas midfielder from the University of North Carolina.
Likewise, Andy Williams tweeted about Martinez:
“I am a very happy camper right now. He absolutely gets my stamp of approval.”
Nor did Real’s second-round selections seem to disappoint.
Head coach Jason Kreis said of de Almeida, a left-sided defender out of Southern Methodist University,
“We feel Diogo could be the left back that we’ve been looking for for several years now.
He’s got good size and is a good technical player that’s coming from an established program at SMU and, on top of that, he was one of the best athletes at the combine this year.”
RSL’s selection of Velasquez was one of the biggest surprises of the day, as many draft insiders seemed to have little information on the Spartanburg Methodist College midfielder.
“This was an interesting one; we got some inside information through a connection about the player. We got some rave reviews from several people, so we started by looking at his highlights on the internet, and we really liked what we saw.
Then we followed up with some more people before inviting him to our combine last month. He played in front of our staff and they were very, very impressed by him, so we’ll see how he pans out.
He’s a dynamic midfielder with attacking tendencies, but also a kid who had a fantastic interview and seems to be a fantastic person and is very hungry to succeed.”
Integrating the draftees into the team will be RSL’s next challenge. While Martinez’s salary will not count against Real’s salary budget thanks to the Generation Adidas program, Martinez and de Almeida will be considered International Players under MLS regulations although Velasquez is a US citizen and will not.
On the other hand, the club needs more depth at the attacking midfielder and outside back positions, and Martinez and de Almeida in particular may be brought into the rotation quickly.
All three are expected to join the team on January 25 in Salt Lake City before spring training begins in Arizona in February.