Did Caps Draft a Starter and a Seller?
by Steve Pandher, Vancouver
The Vancouver Whitecaps came into the 2013 Superdraft with an idea of picking two players in the top ten. However after making a trade with TFC on the draft floor they ended up picking their two players in the top five. They traded an undisclosed amount of allocation along with their tenth pick to move to the fourth spot which was previously owned by the Revolution.
It was clear what the Whitecaps wanted to increase the pace in the attacking ranks with the selections of Ketuka Manneh and Erik Hurtado. Both players have speed and while they are listed as forwards they have the ability to move out wide in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. However each player took a different path in their development as they were join their first professional club.
1.(4th Overall) Kekuta Manneh FW-MF/Austin Aztex (PDL)
The Whitecaps traded up with TFC and took the youngest player available in the draft as the Gambian born player just recently turned 18. Having moved from Gambia in 2010 Manneh joined and trained with a couple of academies before joining Austin last year where he scored 10 goals in 12 games. Before he moved to America he played professionally in Gambia which made him ineligible for NCAA schools.
While pace is the most obvious aspect of his game, Manneh has a goal scoring touch around the net and is a strong player relative to his age and size. He has the ability to play multiple positions including both wing spots but he primarily played as a striker with his youth teams.
An added bonus for the Whitecaps is that the Texas native since 2010 is in possession of a green card which will make him a domestic player and not take up an international spot. He has trained with a number of professional teams but there will be a learning curve for the youngster when it comes to the every day life of a professional especially in the strength department.
2.(5th Overall) Erik Hurtado FW-MF/Santa Clara (NCAA)
With the second of back to back picks the Caps continued to add pace to the attack with the selection of Hurtado. The native of Beaverton Oregon spent the last four season with Santa Clara of the West Coast Conference and played with the Timbers U23 team in the PDL.
Portland had attempted to put a claim in for the WCC player of the year but were denied by MLS as he only played for them after he enrolled in college. Once it was denied Hurtado moved up the draft boards and it was clear he would be a top ten pick.
During his time in college Hurtado played as a striker but he has all the attributes that could him the ideal winger in Rennie’s system. He has the ability to score from the wide parts of the field in addition to the pace and energy to the pitch. If he is able to add the ability to provide service from the wing, which he displayed at times while at the combine, then Hurtado could start from day one.
The Whitecaps were clearly going for speed and athleticism with their two picks and it was a trade with TFC that helped Rennie secured the players they wanted. Hurtado is the more polished player that should contribute immediately and be more of a long term MLS player for the Caps if he meets his potential.
Manneh could end up being the best player in the draft as he has the highest upside in the draft as well as being the youngest. Having already stated that he wants to play in Europe the Whitecaps may look at this selection as an opportunity to develop and sell which would give them ten times the amount of allocation money they spent to trade up for the pick.
The addition of Brad Rusin seemed to lessen the need for depth at CB but another factor could be the impressive play of residency alum Daniel Stanese in his first year of NCAA play. The creative midfield player that everyone wanted in the draft will obviously come through the transfer market.
It is clear from this draft that Rennie isn’t gun shy when it comes to identifying then acquiring the players he wants even if it means giving up assets. The next step for the club is now to find those final couple players, especially a creative midfielder, who can help these picks excel in their first year.
Whitecaps Draft News:
Rennie: I’ve drafted a ‘Natural Goalscorer’ and a ‘Solid Goalscoring Record’
Adding Manneh and Hurtado, Whitecaps Already Look to be Likely Draft Winners
Young CB and Pace on the Right Top Whitecaps’ Needs
Cascadia MLS Draft News:
Sigi: We had Eriq Zavaleta in the top four
Zavaleta: “I let Sounders know how honoured I would be to be a part of the organisation.”
Sounders Acquire Draft Pick Ten and Select Eriq Zavaleta
Rapids Fill International Slot with Chilean Winger
Timbers Trade Fucito and Boyd Seems to be Leaving