SuperDraft Gamble Works For Toronto

Reds traded away first overall pick yet still found the players they wanted.

TORONTO -- Not only was midfielder Kyle Bekker the best player available in the MLS SuperDraft  in Toronto FC’s rankings but he also filled one of their needs.

“He’s a guy who can play a number of different spots in the middle of the park for us, which is an area of need,” Toronto FC director of team and player operations Earl Cochrane told MLSsoccer.com Thursday before leaving Indianapolis. “But overall we just thought he was the best player available.”

Toronto FC took the native of nearby Oakville, Ont., who played for Boston College, with the third pick. Toronto entered the draft with the first and third selections overall and would have used No. 1 to take him. But they traded the first pick to the New England Revolution for allocation money and the No. 4 spot overall in the draft.  

“You never know 100 per cent, but we had a pretty good idea of who was going to fall ahead of us, so with that we decided to make the play for the cash,” Cochrane said.

The Reds judged Bekker as the player in the draft who was most ready to play as a professional. The 22-year-old had trained briefly with Toronto FC during the summer.

“Kyle was a guy we knew coming into the draft and had rated very, very highly,” Cochrane said. “We had thought coming in that he was probably the most ready to make the jump to the pro game that was available in the draft. The belief that we had was illustrated in the combine, because he had a very good combine.

“Once we saw what he was about in the combine, meshed that with what we had done prior, we knew that we needed to bring him in.”

His technical skills, his ability on the ball and his passing, as well as his intelligence are considered among his strong points.

“His ability to kind of create space for himself,” Cochrane added. “His ability to know what’s going on around him. He’s a very good passer of the ball. Very rarely does he give up possession. But when he gets into the final third, the attacking third, he can create opportunities, he can score goals, he’s a very dynamic kid.

“And I think he’s an underrated athlete. People look at him and they don’t think he’s as athletic as maybe some other guys. But I can argue that he does things with a controlled comfort and he’s far more athletic that people give him credit for.”

It was a satisfying day for TFC. They turned the No. 4 pick into allocation money from Vancouver and Seattle and wound up at No. 16 where they took another targeted player, 21-year-old forward Emery Welshman from Mississauga, Ont., who played at Oregon State.

“We had a very good day,” Cochrane said.” Our goal was to leave here with two players and the ability to add more and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”