Improving via the 2013 MLS SuperDraft: Where Should The Montreal Impact Improve?

Ashton Bennett scoring a goal in the 2013 MLS Combine - MLSSoccer.com

The 2013 MLS Draft is in 3 days and the Montreal Impact have a few holes to plug. With new head coach Marco Schällibaum at the helm, what are the needs of the Montreal Impact for the present and the future ?

Matt Jordan, director of Soccer Operations, is leading the charge in the draft aspect for the Montreal Impact. Having been on a few scouting trips in different NCAA games and tournaments, his scouting reports will definitively weigh in the balance in this year's picks.

Goalkeepers

With Troy Perkins (31 year-old) and Evan Bush (26 years-old), there isn't much room for a a young goalkeeper via the draft. With the Academy lining up Maxime Crepeau, Jason Beaulieu and Samuel Dufort, I do expect the Montreal Impact to integrate one of them with the first team as a 3rd goalkeeper.

A debate should start sooner than later whether Evan Bush wants to play the whole year as the 2nd goalkeeper. The talented but still unproven goalkeeper in MLS is thirsty for minutes and we will see how it goes in pre-season.

Defenders

In the central defense, the Impact seems to be very deep even though the injury bug will always hover around Nelson Rivas. With Alessandro Nesta, Matteo Ferrari and Hassoun Camara in the mix, the central defense position seems to be covered, at least in the short term.

note: don't be surprised to see Hassoun Camara in the midfield for 2013

With Karl W Ouimette with the pro team, the academy product would be looking for more playing and he might see some as back-up CB/LB combination. And this is where Montreal might be looking for fullbacks in the draft. With Zarek Valentin holding a CB/RB role and Jeb Brovsky finishing the season as the full-time left back,a natural left back would be need for Montreal.

Dennis Iapichino represents that left back and expect to see the Academy's Maxim Tissot get a look, at least in pre-season. As per the future (along with Maxime Tissot), there are a number of available left backs at the 2013 MLS Draft, including

  • Andrew Farrell, Louisville
  • Walker Zimmerman, Furman
  • Korey Kindle, Cal State Bakersfield
  • Tommy Muller, Georgetown
  • Taylor Kemp, Maryland
  • Shaun Foster, Hofstra
  • Danny Wenzel, Wake Forest

At this point, the combination of scouting and the combine will determine whether and when do the Impact pull the trigger on a left back in the draft. The top talent left backs might already been gone by the 18th pick for Montreal. I would be shocked to see the club go for a defensive player with its 8th pick in the 2013 MLS Draft, especially with the number of talented offensive players.

Midfielders

We never have enough of every position and the midfield is no exception. Once again , the central midfield is clogged by young and older players with Collen Warner and Patrice Bernier holding that area. With Calum Mallace eager for more playing time, the make shift right back in 2012 will definitively be seen as a midfielder.

Will the Montreal Impact offer a contract to the Academy's Wandrille Lefevre? A talented and physical midfielder, he might have something say and has the talent to make the 30-player roster for the season.

Wingers, side midfielders and offensive players is what the Impact looks to be lacking in numbers and quality. The Andrea Pisanu signing takes away a spot but if University of Connecticut star midfielder Carlos Alvarez is still available at #8, I would definitely see Montreal go for him.

unless....

Forwards

In its 2nd year in MLS, it's an understatement to stay that the Impact is lacking some depth in different positions. The forward might be the ''lightest'' of all the sectors with Marco Di Vaio and Andrew Wenger as full-time strikers. Sanna Nyassi is more of a winger and seems to be more effective off the bench. Davy Arnaud shouldn't be Plan B to fill the striker position as he did earlier in the 2012 season. More physical impact, speed and options is what the Impact needs whether they go for a splash in summer transfer market or not.

We look at the opinions of different Draft experts including Matt Doyle/Simon Borg, Travis Clark and Dave Rowaan and also the Montreal Impact's Director of Soccer Operations, Matt Jordan.

Eriq Zavaleta - Indiana University

6-1 / 185lbs 46 games, 28 goals, 9 assists

Matt Jordan

Zavaleta is technically sound for a big man. He scored a lot of goals this year while helping Indiana win the National Championship. He is good at bringing his team into play with his back to goal. His best quality is his presence in the box in crossing situations; his mobility could be a bit questionable at the next level. I think it is still to be determined what position he will play in the pros. He signed a Generation adidas contract with the league.

Travis Clark

Like 2012, one of the members of the Generation adidas class enters with his future position unknown. Zavaleta, a standout forward for national champions Indiana, excelled as a central defender during a strong youth club career. So what's his best position? Good arguments can be made for both when considering his size, ability on the ball and soccer brain. Whoever ends up selecting him in the draft needs to pick one and simply stick with it to get the most out of him.

Simon Borg

A Generation adidas player is just what the doctor ordered for a team that wants to make sure as much of its salary budget is available for its European scouting missions. Their new coach can take his time to decide if Zavaleta is a forward or defender.


Jason Johnson - Virginia Commonwealth University


Matt Jordan

Johnson is a dynamic forward, who is very athletic and physically gifted. He has the ability to play as a winger and as a striker. He has excellent speed and strength and has the ability to put the defence under pressure at all times. He signed a Generation adidas contract with the league.

Dave Rowaan

of Waking The Red gives an excellent in-depth analysis of the VCU forward

Great skills

He has all the skills that are needed to be a very good forward in MLS but he has a few glaring knocks against him as well. In his junior season he started in all 21 of his schools games notching 13 goals and adding 6 assists. It was his best season for the Rams and did a lot to boost his draft stock building on the 11 goals that he tallied as a sophomore. He will leave VCU having appeared in 60 games scoring 28 goals and adding 10 assists.

Motivation?

The big issue with Johnson has always been one of motivation. In an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch he was very candid in discussing the fact that when he arrived at VCU he had a lot of talent but was lacking in motivation. When discussing the pressure his coach, Dave Giffard, places on him to work harder in games Johnson said, "You've got to work hard. When you're tired, you've just got to push through it. Like coach says, if you have talent, sometimes you can cheat and it works out. But you'll get caught most of the time."

Travis Clark

Even though he's coming from a program that has only recently arrived on the national scene, Johnson is a promising and physically talented striker who blossomed the last two seasons at the Richmond school. Forwards usually need to be built in the right way to adapt quickly to MLS, and that's what Johnson has - he only needs to make sure he becomes a consistent force in order to find success.

Deshorn Brown - University of Central Florida

Matt Jordan

Brown is a physical specimen with a good combination of speed, strength and power and has scored a lot of goals over the last two years. Tactically, he still has room to grow but I would anticipate he is taken fairly high in the first round. He signed a Generation adidas contract with the league.

Matt Doyle

He's a pure speed forward, a guy who goes past a static backline onto any through ball the midfield deigns to send. The Rapids could use exactly that. And if he learns to play the flank, that's a nice bonus as well.

Travis Clark

The forward transferred from NAIA program Mobile to UCF for the fall of 2012 after scoring 53 goals in two years at the lower level powerhouse. While UCF didn't enjoy the greatest season, it gave Brown the platform to showcase his talents and show what he can do on the field. A strong, powerful striker who also has blazing speed, Brown might not be able to step in and start right away, but he'll be a good weapon off the bench if he adjusts quickly.


Ryan Finley - University of Notre Dame

Matt Jordan

Finley is a very competitive and hard working forward. He battles for every ball and is very aggressive in the offensive third; he makes hard runs in the box and looks to shoot every opportunity he gets.

Jason Saghini

The Crew could use some depth behind their international pairing up top, and a goalscorer who makes smart runs could pair well with Federico Higuain's vision.

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