Gonsalves turning heads at MLS combine

DEAN MCNULTY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

Jeffrey Gonsalves is among the top prospects for next week's Major League Soccer SuperDraft who have been strutting their stuff for coaches the past two days in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Rated third among eligible players in next Friday's draft, Gonsalves has spent the past four years at the University of Rhode Island where he was captain of the Rams men's soccer team.

The 20-year-old graduate of Brother Andre Catholic High School in Markham even could be the first player picked in the draft that will be held in Indianapolis.

Toronto FC, which will make its debut in the MLS this season, has that first pick and it will be tough for them to pass up on the local prospect.

But Toronto coach Mo Johnston -- who watched Gonsalves in action yesterday -- refused to comment on what his team's plans are when it picks from the No.1 spot.

Johnston said the reason for his silence was simple: "I don't want to give any other coaches an advantage by giving away what we plan to do on draft day."

However, Johnston did say there won't be any last-minute surprises at the draft table.

"We made our mind up months ago what we are going to do," he said.

One of the options, of course, is for Toronto to trade its pick for an established player and another first-rounder in the hope that Gonsalves still would be available later in the draft.

Johnston said that the combine was giving him with a chance to see the top players -- mostly from U.S. colleges -- under game conditions.

"We know most of them anyway," he said. "After all, this isn't rocket science we are doing."

With 41 points, Gonsalves finished the 2006 season second among U.S. college players in total points and his 18 goals also tied him for second in the country in that category.

He was a pre-season All-Atlantic 10 selection and was named the 2006 conference offensive player of the year.

The other top prospects at yesterday's camp included the projected No. 1 Robbie Findley, of Oregon State; No. 2. Randi Patterson, UNC ; No. 4 Jarrod Smith, West Virginia and No. 5 Brad Evans, UC Irvine.

The top amateur player in North America, however, is not at the camp.

Charlie Davies of Boston College already has signed a pro deal with Hammarby in Sweden.


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