Photo: (L-R) Andrew Farrell, Carlos Alvarez & Kyle Bekker.
After five days at the Player Combine that included six matches, multiple interviews, marathon negotiations in person and over the phone with MLS counterparts, Toronto made a big decision on the eve of SuperDraft (Noon ET on Toronto FC TV).
The Reds traded the first overall pick to New England for allocation money and the fourth selection. Toronto now holds the third and fourth picks on Thursday in Indianapolis. Who the Reds will select or if they'll continue to move spots remains to be seen.
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One option will be to simply grab the best players available. The consensus top pick - depending on who you ask - is either Andrew Farrell or Walker Zimmerman, both centre backs. One of them could drop to the third spot because Chivas USA is targeting a creative midfielder. Toronto already has a combination of experience and youth in the middle of defence that was strengthened in the offseason by acquiring Danny Califf and Gale Agbossoumonde, which could make passing on either Farrell or Zimmerman tempting.
The sentimental selection is Kyle Bekker. The midfielder from Oakville, Ontario raised his profile at the Combine scoring twice, including from a set-piece in the third match. Bekker is strong on the ball, appreciative of his teammates and it doesn't hurt that he could train in the morning and get a home cooked meal at night if he so chooses. Though he would be an instant hometown favourite, Bekker is guilty of being a central midfielder, a position where Toronto added veteran Brazilian Julio Cesar this week to complement Torsten Frings, Terry Dunfield and Luis Silva.
One of Silva's high school teammates, Carlos Alvarez, has been a hot topic heading into SuperDraft. Chivas USA has confirmed that it will take him with the second pick. Alvarez is passionate about Chivas, his father having played on the Guadalajara side. Those who followed their high school exploits in Los Angeles salivate at the thought of a Silva-Alvarez pairing in MLS, which is a possibility should the Goats opt for Mikey Lopez, who came into the combine with big expectations and held his own.
Other midfielders that made an impression are John Stertzer, Blake Smith and Dillon Powers.
One weakness of the 2013 class is its lack of wide players. That may have made it more enticing for Toronto to trade the top selection for allocation dollars in order to bolster its current squad with more experience out wide. Of the midfielders currently on the squad, only Reggie Lambe may be considered a natural winger. Quincy Amarikwa, Andrew Wiedeman and sometimes fullback Jeremy Hall played the flanks in 2012 though all were slightly out of their natural element.
Goalkeepers and strikers have been the least talked about positions at the Combine. Nottingham-born English keeper James Belshaw turned some heads early. Most intriguing options up top are Deshorn Brown, Ryan Finley and Erik Hurtado, who helped Canadian Emery Welshman to find the back of the net this week.