SuperDraft Decisions Loom

Payne: with first & third overall picks we can almost do what we want.

If the day is indeed coming for Toronto FC, it is coming soon.

The club holds the first and third selections at the January 17 MLS SuperDraft in Indianapolis and new president and GM Kevin Payne sees those picks amounting to something important.

Just what package of talent the club will come away with becomes more intriguing by the day.

At D.C. United Payne had a history of drafting significant players including Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius, Nick DeLeon and Chris Korb.

Players whose names have been lobbed about as worth watching include Louisville midfielder Andrew Farrell, Creighton midfielder Jose Gomez, Mikey Lopez of the University of North Carolina and Honduran national Alex Lopez.

“With two picks at this level we can almost do what we want,” Payne said. “We can use both picks and reasonably expect to get two players we want the most. I do expect there will be a number of teams who will need to bring in younger, lower-priced talent and will look to the draft as the best way to do that. They may very well be willing to part with starting-calibre players.”

With academy prospects slowly filtering up and the number of Generation adidas players dwindling both in number and in years of cap protection, the selection of GA  players - Farrell comes to mind - is far from a lock.

“Because they usually are paid more money than the typical college players, I call them time bombs,” Payne said. “They bring a benefit for a year or two but in the third year, sometimes the second, they hit your cap at a pretty high number, often a higher number than their relative worth.”

Payne, naturally enough, declined to handicap his plans for the picks but stopped short of calling a trade a remote possibility.

“We’re not sure if we’re going to use both. Because we have needs at a number of positions we will certainly consider the possibility of moving off one of those picks in order to acquire more assets.”

Payne downplayed the possibility of selecting a player whose stay would be truncated by a transfer to a more prestigious league. TFC supporters well remember Maurice Edu, the MLS 2007 Rookie of the Year. Edu, now at Stoke City in the English Premier League, lasted less than two years in Toronto before being sold to Glasgow Rangers.

“Certain players have certain qualities and sometimes those qualities have a value overseas,” Payne said. “If Mo Edu was playing in our league, he would not be a dominating player by any stretch of the imagination. I would argue that a player like Chris Pontius (drafted seventh overall in 2009) continues to be a far more impactful MLS player than Mo Edu would have been.”

The five-day MLS combine of eligible players will be convened in Fort Lauderdale, January 11-15. The combine, Payne said, can be both illuminating and confusing.

“There will be some players at the combine from foreign countries that nobody really knows anything about,” he said. “Those players can be very confusing because the combine is not a particularly apt concept to judge players. In the end what you bring to the table is a combination of what you know of a player, what you’ve seen on your own and what you see on the field at the combine.”