For the fourth year in a row, the Vancouver Whitecaps have taken a defender with their first pick in the MLS Superdraft. Picking seventh, the Whitecaps went with Right Back Jakob Nerwinski from the University of Connecticut. The Whitecaps have had their struggles at the position since dealing away Steven Beitashour, and no doubt the club was happy to get a good prospect they can grow in the position. Here’s what Matthew Doyle from MLSSoccer.com had to say about the 22 year old Nerwinski in his recent Mock Draft.
Nerwinski tested out as probably the second-best athlete at the draft, and his decision-making in the final third was more advanced than most figured it was. Add those two things to his undeniable commitment on both sides of the ball, and you have the makings of a solid pick for a team that could use a little bit more depth at right back
The Whitecaps have had some good luck with defenders in the SuperDraft (Tim Parker and Cole Seiler as recent examples), and Nerwinski could be another gem. He’ll likely back-up and learn from MLS veteran Sheannon Williams, whom the Whitecaps acquired from Houston earlier in the off-season.
Nerwinski spent four years at UCONN, recording five goals and seventeen assists in 75 starts and 81 appearances.
In the second round, 29th overall, the Whitecaps stuck with the backline, picking Center Back Francis De Vries from St. Francis University in Pennsylvania. The 22 year old is actually a native of Christchurch New Zealand. It’s a somewhat surprising move given the Whitecaps already have Kendall Waston, Seiler, Parker and Christian Dean on the roster.
That being said, mock drafts from MLSSoccer.com and Top Drawer Soccer had De Vries going in the first round, and spoke very highly of his skills.
From Top Drawer Soccer: The center defender could transition to outside back at the professional level or slot in as a left center back. He is lethal on set pieces, which is a nice added bonus.
From MLSSoccer.com: De Vries has a wonderful left foot that he can use to pick out runners just about anywhere on the field. Everybody knew that coming into the Combine. What they didn't know is if he'd be able to keep up with some of the quicker attackers at the event, and he passed nearly every test.
Rounds 3 and 4 of the SuperDraft go on Tuesday, January 17th, and the Whitecaps will have the 51st and 73rd picks.