In a year of firsts, the Whitecaps will select college players in their first MLS Superdraft and in the week leading up the speculation is running wild. The stories started at the MLS combine that the consensus top prospect, Darlington Nagbe, was not attending the combine as he was told by the Whitecaps that he was assured the top pick. By the end of the camp a rumour was spread that Nagbe did not want to play in Vancouver as it would affect his citizenship in the United States. Vancouver's front office, Sohen and Lenarduzzi especially, have fueled some of this speculation by disclosing to the media that they open to listening to offers and that they had narrowed their choice down to two players.
With the winter transfer window open soon, the Caps will be bringing in a number of veterans to fill in the opening roster against TFC in March. It makes it difficult to identify what players they may select, however they do have three picks in the top nineteen to help fill out the roster. After winning the coin flip last summer against expansion cousins, Vancouver have their own selections at 1, 19 and 37. In addition the Whitecaps traded Nathan Sturgis, an expansion selection, to TFC for their 1st round pick which is 8th overall.
The most pressing need seems to be up front at the forward position as they only have Atiba Harris under contract and that’s assuming that Teitur is looking at playing Harris as a target man. The above mentioned Nagbe would be an ideal pick at the top spot, as he has a striker’s touch, the ability to distribute the ball to others. The most impressive aspect of his skillset is that he can perform his talents at an elite speed. Other options that they may consider are Will Bruin (Indiana), Corey Hertzog (Penn St.) or Omar Salgado (unattached) if the Caps do trade down or one of these players become available at eight.
Their midfield has four players under MLS contracts with Terry Dunfield and John Thorrington in the middle, and Shea Salinas and Phillipe Davies out wide. Nagbe could be an option here again as he is versatile enough to play as an attacking midfielder in addition to forward. The only other option at the first pick is Nagbe’s Akron teammate Perry Kitchen. Although a freshman coming out of college, Kitchen is said to be mature beyond his years and future star in the MLS. At Akron he played as a holding midfielder and is considered ideal at that position, however Kitchen has the versatility to play multiple positions including RB, CB, and even as an attacking MF. At the eighth pick midfielders that may be considered are Micheal Nanchoff (Akron), Michael Farfan (UNC) and international Joao Plata.
The backline is more set for the upcoming season with an expected three of four positions spoken for. Centrally the Whitecaps have Jay DeMerit, Alain Rochat and Greg Janicki under terms for the 2011 season. On the right side, the Caps have Wesley Knight and MLS veteran Jonathon Leathers to battle for a spot on the starting eleven. I don’t see Vancouver selecting a defender unless they trade back from the top spot and even then it seems unlikely. Defenders that might be selected at eight are CBs Zarek Valentine (Akron), A.J. Soares (California), Jalil Anibaba (UNC), RB Kofi Sarkodi (Akron) or LB Michael Tetteh (UCSB).
Vancouver Whitecaps Mock Draft
The Following is an ideal draft scenario in my opinion for the Whitecaps.
1. (1st)- Darlington Nagbe F/MF(Akron): I don’t think a rumour that started in Portland will stop the Whitecaps from selecting the best player in the draft.
1. (8th)- Omar Salgado F(unattached): With impressive showings at the combine for Bruin, Hertzog, and Anibaba, I believe Salgado will fall a little and allow the Whitecaps to acquire a target striker with size and skill.
2. (19th)- Bobby Warsahaw MF/DF(Stanford): Physical and skilled player who will play CDM in MLS and can step in at multiple positions as well.
3. (37th)- Curtis Ushedo DF(UAB): Canadian CB who has good size and skill. Is definitely a long term development pick.