TORONTO - Toronto FC addressed a pair of positional concerns Thursday, selecting UC Santa Barbara’s Luis Silva and Notre Dame’s Aaron Maund fourth and 12th overall at the MLS SuperDraft in Kansas City.
“We are very pleased with what we got,” director of team and player operations Earl Cochrane said. “We came in with a number of different plans depending on who was going to go (before us). Silva was always our target at four ... and we’re very pleased with getting him.
“Depending on how the rest of the board fell, we were toying with what we were going to be doing with the 12 pick. And when Aaron was available, we made sure we grabbed him quickly.”
After acquiring Bermuda international Reggie Lambe last month, Silva is expected to push the Bermudian winger and Eric Avila for a spot in Toronto’s 4-3-3 attack — and provide immediate depth at a spot where there once was a considerable drop off after the newly re-signed Joao Plata.
“Silva’s a guy that we think can step in pretty early and contribute,” Cochrane said. “We wanted a guy who wasn’t going to take (years) to step into a role — a guy we thought was capable of playing the system we play.”
The Reds passed on Generation Adidas and University of Connecticut prospect Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who was taken eighth by the Portland Timbers, and drafted an older, more experience collegiate standout in Maund.
Physically ready and good in the air, the 21-year-old is fearless in his pursuit and has the confidence and quality on the ball to potentially emerge as an important piece for the club moving forward.
“There’s no question that we lacked depth at the back,” Cochrane said. “We wanted to get a talented, athletic guy who was comfortable on the ball, and that’s what we got with Aaron.”
The expansion Montreal Impact selected Duke utility man Andrew Wenger first overall while the Vancouver Whitecaps used the second pick to add to an already crowded attack with Akron’s Darren Mattocks — a pair of Generation Adidas prospects who were the overwhelming favourites to go one and two.
Windsor’s Babayele Sodade, 21, of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, was the lone Canadian taken Thursday when the Seattle Sounders used the 34th pick to select the athletic forward. Mississauga midfielder Evan James, 21, will remain on the board until the clubs select in the coming four-round MLS Supplemental Draft next week.
“We looked at those players,” Cochrane said, when asked if TFC was looking at Sodade or James. “We’ve still got four rounds to go and we’re going to figure just what it is we’re going to need ... We’re not necessarily going to take a player because he’s Canadian, but because (they’re) Canadian we may have a deeper look.”
While it appears Silva fills an empty void, Maund enters a program that’s saturated with uncertainty in the centre of defence.
As of now, Cochrane expects each of Toronto’s five central defenders — Andy Iro, Ty Harden, Adrian Cann, Dicoy Williams and Doneil Henry — to be back this season, leaving someone on the outside looking in.
“As it stands right now they’re all back,” Cochrane said. “People are always calling and always investigating about players ... but as it stands right now we’re comfortable with all the guys we’ve got in those spots.”
In four seasons in the Big East, Maund started 77 matches and most recently represented the U.S. at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2009. He was named to the All-Big East Conference first team as well as the All-Great Lakes Region first team.
A strong final season at UC Santa Barbara saw Silva score 17 goals and add 10 assists in 22 matches while being named to the NSCAA all-America first team.
Born.: Oct. 12, 1988
Hometown: Los Angeles,
Weight: 174 pounds
College: Santa Barbara
Acquired: Selected by TFC fourth overall
Head coach Aron Winter: “Luis is a very strong technical and tactical player. His movements with and without the ball convinced us he will fit in well at Toronto.”
Larson: Silva is a player that the club believes can step in and compete for playing time. Club officials have gone as far to call him a true number 10 who will push Eric Avila as TFC’s only true withdrawn attacker playing in behind Danny Koevermans.
Born.: Sept. 19, 1990
Hometown: Dorchester, Mass.
Weight: 185 pounds
College: Notre Dame
Acquired: Selected by TFC 12th overall
Head coach Aron Winter: Aaron fills a need for us in defence. He is a player we watched for a long time and during the combine.”
Larson: The Reds were surprised Maund fell to the 12 spot and were over-the-moon when FC Dallas elected to go with North Carolina’s Matt Hedges instead. Toronto is a great environment for the Notre Dame product because of the club’s instability at the back. As he was the third central defender taken in the draft, Maund has a lot to prove.