Steve ‘Cub Reporter’ Pandher previews the draft from a Whitecaps perspective.
Young CB and Pace on the Right Top Whitecaps’ Needs
by Steve Pandher, Vancouver
The Vancouver Whitecaps will conduct their third Superdraft since joining the MLS. It will be the second under Martin Rennie.
Once again they will select early in the draft, 5th overall, with this year’s pick coming courtesy of a trade for their allocation spot with Philadelphia.
Their last two drafts have had mixed results with good choices at the top of the draft but an inability to find a hidden gem in the later picks.
There is a chance that Rennie uses one of the first rounders for a veteran midfielder who can play an attacking and holding role in the center of the pitch.
They may also use the draft to unload a couple of players like Martin Bonjour or Michael Nanchoff whose rights they still hold for a pick in the second.
With the arrival of Brad Rusin, they now have three quality centre halves after Jay DeMerit and Andy O’Brien.
2012 – Caps Draft History
A surprising selection by the Impact at the draft allowed Darren Mattocks to fall into Rennie’s lap and if it were not for a freak injury, Vancouver’s leading scorer may have hit double digits in goals. There should be no doubt the Jamaican international will have a spot in the starting eleven from day one against TFC.
With YP Lee penciled in as the starter the Caps were looking to have a young RB behind the vet so they drafted Chris Estridge. However the defender was released when he was out performed by supplemental draft pick Greg Klazura.
If the Whitecaps are looking to contend for a playoff spot and trophies then anyone they draft shouldn’t be expected to start from day one. The players they acquire should be considered rotational players who could develop into starters in a year or two.
CB- This seems like a position of strength especially with the recent signing of Brad Rusin but the two starters are on the north side of 30 and it seems like Bonjour might be moved. The plan would be to groom a young central defender, who would be fourth on the depth chart, but learn from the vets before taking over in a year as a starter would be ideal.
RM- With Dane Richards moving on this preseason, the Caps need to replace significant speed on the right side.
It would be a bonus if the player can also slide into a central attacking role and play multiple positions.
Striker– The Caps have the pace with Mattocks but need a physical forward as a change of pace to score those ‘garbage’ goals in the box. If Rennie decides to play more 4-4-2 this season then they will need more depth at forward.
LB- The Caps currently have Rochat and Harvey on the depth chart but Rochat is getting older and may be moved to a holding midfield role while Harvey has yet to prove that he can be an everyday starter. There are limited options for this position at the top of the draft but a pickup in the second round, assuming they can acquire one, or in the supplemental draft could work for them.
IDEAL CAPS DRAFT
1. (5th Overall) Eriq Zavaleta DF/Indiana
The son of an El Savador pro player, Zavaleta is capable of playing a number of positions similar to last year’s top pick Andrew Wenger. In addition to other positions his two main spots are forward and center back because of his ability to read the game and dominate the game in the air.
While he will see the pitch due to his versatility, he will spend most of the first season learning from a number of veterans like DeMerit and O’Brien.
Other options: MF Mikey Lopez, DF Walker Zimmerman, MF Kyle Bekker
2. (10th Overall) John Stertzer MF/Maryland
I originally had Kyle Bekker in this spot but it looks like the Canadian midfielder is moving up the board since his combine. It also looks like the Caps are shopping this pick for a veteran MLS midfielder but if they keep the pick then Stertzer might be the selection.
A player with size, Stertzer could play as an attacker or in a holding role in the central midfield. The Maryland grad is comfortable with the ball at his feet and the ability to score like he did often in 2011.
Other options: MF Erik Hurtado, MF Dillon Powers, MF Emery Welshman