TFC adds 'project' in draft

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

Toronto FC director of soccer Mo Johnston thinks he might have found a diamond in the rough.

TFC did not have a first-round pick in the MLS Superdraft in Philadelphia yesterday, but the team was satisfied to scoop up U.S. under-17 defender Zach Herold with the 24th selection overall.

"We are very happy, we think he's fallen through the cracks down to 24," said Johnston. "A lot of coaches here were looking for immediate help, but we have a project, and we think he'll do very well for us. He's one of the best young kids in the country."

Johnston likes the fact that Herold can play in a variety of spots on the backline.

Toronto had only one other pick in the four-round draft; with the 53rd selection, the Reds took Nane Joseph, a defensive midfielder from Cameroon who attended Old Dominion University.

"He can be a defender or a midfielder, and he's a lefty," Johnston said. "We'll see what he can do at camp and see if he has what it takes to make it."

Johnston had said earlier in the week that he would like to move up in the draft, but no deals materialized. The fact Toronto has a limited number of allocations for American players makes it tough to make deals on draft day, he said. As well, the prices teams were asking for first-round picks were too steep.

Plus, he said new coach Predrag (Preki) Radosavljevic is satisfied with a lot of the returning group, even though it fell short of the playoffs last season.

"We feel we have a good mix of experienced and young players."

The Reds did not have a first- or a third-round pick in this year's draft. Their No. 6 pick overall was shipped to FC Dallas last season as part of the deal to bring defender Adrian Serioux to Toronto. Dallas ended up moving that pick to the expansion Philadelphia Union in exchange for allocation cash.

The Union was the big wheeler and dealer. The expansion club, which already had the No. 1 pick, grabbed No. 6 from FC Dallas after earlier getting No. 7 from D.C. United in a deal that also saw Philly get midfielder Fred. D.C. got the Union's No. 1 spot in the allocation order, which it used to repatriate American goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who spent 2009 with Valerenga of the Norwegian League.

Philadelphia took Oregon State striker Danny Mwanga with the top pick. Mwanga is a former Pac-10 rookie of the year, and features a mix of speed and power that had scouts salivating. UCLA midfielder Amobi Okugo and 17-year-old phenom John McInerney were the Union's other first-round picks.

The top Canadian prize in the draft, Hamilton-born striker Teal Bunbury, went fourth overall to the Kansas City Wizards. The Wizards were the final pro team of his father, Canadian national-teamer Alex Bunbury.

MLS SUPERDRAFT TOP PICKS

THE FIRST FIVE PLAYERS CHOSEN YESTERDAY

1. Philadelphia -- Danny Mwanga, Oregon State. The 18-year-old had established himself as the best striker in the Pac-10.

2. New York -- Tony Tchani, Virginia. A midfielder who is very offensive-minded; the key figure in an NCAA championship.

3. San Jose -- Ike Opara, Wake Forest. Massive central defender, who a lot of experts think is ready to play in the MLS right away.

4. Kansas City -- Teal Bunbury, Akron. Top scorer in the NCAA. Winner of the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy. And Canadian.

5. FC Dallas -- Zach Lloyd, UCLA. Defensive midfielder, could address FCD's lack of steel in the middle of the park.

STEVEN.SANDOR@SUNMEDIA.CA


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