In the first two rounds of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, Toronto FC selected two players that they see as fitting into the culture of the club.
With the sixth-overall pick in the first round, TFC selected midfielder Griffin Dorsey from Indiana University and in the second round, at 39th-overall, midfielder Adam Wilson from the University of Louisville was chosen.
“Both players have the right personality characteristics,” said General Manager Ali Curtis via conference call as the second round was wrapping up. “We're really excited in terms of getting those guys going, bringing them into camp. Hard working; humble but confident. We think they can be some nice additions to our organization.”
Curtis stressed 'fit' when discussing the selection process: “What is most important is that we find the right player who is a good fit for our club, our community; that fits into the culture of what we're trying to do. Of course, they've got to be able to play the game. We're trying to get the best player for this club.”
The 19-year-old Dorsey, who signed a Generation Adidas contract prior to the draft, has spent two seasons at Indiana, scoring eight goals and registering 11 assists. Though he featured predominantly on the right in college, Dorsey said he was comfortable on either flank and called being selected by Toronto FC, “an honour.”
“I like to think I'm a speedy player, who likes to get around the outside, get crosses into the box,” explained Dorsey of his game. “I can play outside back, forward, whatever the club needs to succeed.”
It is that combination of versatility and talent, mixed in with personality, that caught Toronto's eye.
“Can play on the outside, can be tucked in a bit. At the combine, they played him at the right-back position as well,” detailed Curtis. “Depending upon our needs, we'll see where he fits in. Ultimately it will be up to him. We have a competitive and talented group going into preseason, he's going to have to earn his opportunity. We're not going to slot him into one single position.”
“We're lucky to draft him at the number six spot,” continued Curtis. “Comes from a very good family, good background, and loves playing soccer. The kind of player that is going to show up early and work on his craft after training as well. There is some opportunity for him in the side; we're excited to have him.”
With the second round selection of 21-year-old Wilson, Curtis was again pleased that the player was still available.
“Adam is the type of player we didn't think would drop to us, but that's how the draft goes,” said Curtis. “I just got off the phone with him: a really good young man, he's hungry; we have a need [for depth] at the position. Adds to midfield base that we're looking for.”
Wilson joins the Reds after two seasons at Lousiville | Courtesy Louisville Athletics
Like Dorsey, that malleability to grow into a position as a professional was intriguing.
“We look at him as more of a central player, but with a lot of young players out of the draft, sometimes they've played one position in college and in your environment things change,” said Curtis. “We believe they're good soccer players, have a good base and strong personalities; that they'll be able to adapt to the pro game.”
“The fortunate position we're in is we don't have to decide now. What is most important is that [they] come in, work hard, start to get to know their teammates, the coaching staff, and get acclimated to the city. Right or left, or wherever they play on the field, that's secondary,” explained Curtis. “We'll have to challenge them to let their personalities come through. We're looking forward to taking them out of amateur game and putting them in the pro ranks; taking it one step at a time.”
And now under the umbrella of TFC, they will be given every chance to find themselves a role.
“We want them to flourish,” stressed Curtis. “It's our responsibility now to give them every opportunity, to support them, to give them resources, so that we can help them become the players we believe they can be.”
“We're excited about these two players: good young men; they're hungry, competitive. They want to be first team players. We'll see how that journey goes,” added Curtis. “The important thing is that there is a real pathway that we have as an organization in TFC II as well as the first team. We're going to use our tools to support all our players the best we can.”
Wilson was not in Chicago to hear his name called, but Dorsey took to the stage with his friend, eight-year-old Caleb Anderson, who helped spark Indiana to the semifinals of the 2018 NCAA College Cup, where they lost to eventual champions Maryland.
“He's an inspiration, to the whole team this year,” said Dorsey of Caleb, who battles multiple maladies. “He loves to dance, loves to stay energetic. That brought a different level to the team this year.”
Dorsey was not surprised that TFC would be his destination.
“We had an interview before the second combine game; I thought it went well,” said Dorsey. “We had a connection from there. I felt like it was a good one. I think they were interested. I showed well at the combine and they put their trust in me. I'm excited to get started.”
In Toronto, he will be surrounded by some friendly and familiar faces.
Two other former Hoosiers – Drew Moor and Eriq Zavaleta – are with the first team, both tweeted out their pleasure at a fellow alumni joining the side, while in Ayo Akinola, Dorsey, who scored a goal and chipped in two assists in the tournament, rejoins a teammate from the U.S. U-20 squad that won the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship in November.
“It'll be huge,” beamed Dorsey of having fellow Indiana alums in place. “A different country, definitely a change, but it'll be nice to have Hoosier family around, as they usually always are. It'll be awesome to have that connection.”
“I definitely know Ayo,” added Dorsey. “[We] shared some goals and assists in the Concacaf [Championship]. I'm excited to settle with him as well. Definitely a familiar face.”
And as for the rest of the star-studded squad that includes Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley, and Jozy Altidore, to name but a few, Dorsey called them, “guys I've looked up to my whole life.”
Dorsey, a native of Colorado, is braced for this new challenge in a new place.
“I've never been to Canada, so it'll be my first experience. I'm truly excited,” said the midfielder. Warned of the current cold snap, he laughed: “It's OK. I'm from Colorado. I can get used to the cold a little bit.”