The MLS Superdraft will take place on January 15th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After a disaster 2014 season the Montreal Impact will have the 3rd overall pick after the two expansion teams: Orlando and New York City. Although the Impact put a lot of emphasis on their Academy players, the MLS Superdraft is still an important avenue for clubs to improve.
What do the Impact need?
Although Montreal currently have a plethora of midfielders, they are very thin at the back. With the departure of both Matteo Ferrari and Heath Pearce the Impact are in desperate need of fresh defenders. Last year the Impact made a good pick with Eric Miller and selecting another big physical defender could be in the cards.
A New "Big O" in Town?
So who could this big defender be? One of the top defenders that is slated to go in the 2015 draft will be Oumar Bello also known as the "Big O". The defender from UMBC is 6'2 and described as, "athletic, tall, strong in the air and always first to 50/50 balls" by one MLS scout. These traits could be a huge boon to an Impact team that has been abysmal on set pieces over the last few seasons.
The same MLS scout noted that, "He's got really good speed and good reactions". Klopas has claimed that he wants to get faster and more athletic at the back and drafting a player with the profile of Ballo could be just what the Impact need. Although the Impact have not gone after defenders during the off-season to this point, the draft is an opportunity to change this.
Another interesting point to consider is Ballo's longevity. Going into 2013 Ballo had started 42 straight games for UMBC. Alex Schaffer of BennettRank states that, "He never leaves the pitch for UMBC, he is their talisman". For an Impact team that has gone through a torrent of injuries at the back (see Rivas / Lopez) having a workhorse at the back would be a welcome change.
Although Adam Braz has his work cut out for him re-building the backline, the "Big O" could be an important first step in the right direction.
Oumar Ballo Profile:
Weight: 190 lbs
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Favourite Professional club: Barcelona
(Information from UMBC Athletics website)
Youtube video of Ballo scoring from a corner kick at 1:29 for Reading United AC (USL Premier Development League) this past May.