The Seattle Sounders FC have had several firsts in their franchise history as they have progressed toward the MLS Opening Kick on March 19.
Next week they hold the first pick in their first SuperDraft and their options are aplenty.
"We feel pretty good about some of the choices that are out there," Technical Director Chris Henderson said. "We look at what San Jose did last year in trading their pick and getting a veteran player and those opportunities may come for us also, but there are some players who we think can contribute right away as pros."
Last year’s expansion Earthquakes dealt their top pick to Kansas City for veteran defender Nick Garcia. In 2007, Toronto FC used their inaugural SuperDraft pick on midfield standout Maurice Edu, who played just over one season north of the border before transferring to Rangers of the Scottish Premier League.
This year’s class includes several different directions that the Sounders FC could take and a strong class of Generation Adidas players adds even more intrigue to the top selection.
Three of the top prospects that are competing at the MLS Combine this weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, come from the University of Maryland program that took home the NCAA crown in 2008. Leading that group is 20-year-old defender Omar Gonzalez, who was ACC Defender of the Year as a sophomore. His college teammates midfielder Jeremy Hall and defender Rodney Wallace, both 20, are all GA players that have the added luxury of not counting against the salary cap.
"This year the ACC was really strong, so I suspect the ACC might get picked up by team, but there are those players who might be sleepers that you can pick up in the later rounds and develop them into a real good pro," Henderson said.
Hall is among a group of prolific scorers in the deep draft class, alongside Akron striker Steve Zakuani and Michigan’s Peri Marosevic. But with a slew of able-bodied defenders in the mix, too, the Sounders FC will be able to explore several options before stepping to the podium in St. Louis for the draft on Thursday.
"As we shape our roster it will start to become clearer what needs we have," Henderson said. "There’s a lot to consider when you’re going into it. I think if you create the right environment you are going to have players that develop and become very good players in our league."
Another ACC standout, forward Marcus Tracy, reportedly opted to ply his trade overseas with Danish champions Aalborg BK.
In addition to the top pick, Seattle also holds picks 16, 31 and 46.