The Montreal Impact selected versatile Duke fullback Andrew Wenger as the first draft pick in franchise history at the 2012 MLS SuperDraft in Kansas City on Thursday.
Wenger captured the Hermann Trophy as the top player in NCAA soccer in 2011 and can play as a centre back, defensive midfielder or striker. After playing two seasons as a defender with the Blue Devils, the 21-year-old suited up as a forward in his third season, scoring 17 goals and adding eight assists.
Wenger is a Generation adidas player, which means his salary does not count against the team's salary cap, and is considered a can’t-miss prospect. He's currently training with the U.S. under-23 national team.
As for what position he'll play in Montreal, that's still a mystery.
"I think that’s something [coach] Jesse [Marsch] will figure over the next couple months and tell me where to play and go from there," Wenger told MLSsoccer.com
Whitecaps pick for speed, scoring
Marquette senior Calum Mallace was the Impact's second-round draft pick at No. 20 overall. The six-foot-two, defensive-minded midfielder brings a physical presence to his game and is considered by many pundits to be MLS ready.
The Impact, Major League Soccer’s 19th team, kicks off its inaugural campaign March 10 in Vancouver against the Whitecaps.
The second-year Whitecaps picked second overall and promptly took projected No. 1, speedy striker Darren Mattocks from the University of Akron.
Mattocks, a 21-year-old Jamaican, scored 39 goals in 47 games over two seasons with the NCAA Division I Zips.
Vancouver team president Bob Lenarduzzi said his decision was an easy one, once Montreal made its pick.
"It's been the consensus that the top two were Wenger and Mattocks," said Lenarduzzi, whose team also selected Indiana defender Chris Estridge in the second round, 21st overall.
"We just needed Montreal to make up their minds. All along you sort of jokingly ask what they're going to do, but they never were going to tell me anything."
Promising playmaker joins TFC fold
Toronto FC, the third Canadian franchise in MLS, chose playmaking midfielder Luis Silva from the University of California Santa Barbara fourth overall.
While not a Generation adidas player, Silva, a five-foot-11 native of Los Angeles, is known for his quickness and vision and can score goals, too. He had 17 goals and 10 assists last season and was a nominee for the Hermann Trophy.
"I'm a team player, I work hard both sides of the ball," said Silva, who was born in Mexico. "I just know [TFC] is an attacking team with the 4-3-3 formation, which I'm used to playing.
"I've played every formation. It's a matter of going to training and seeing how the coach wants to use me."
Toronto also picked at No. 12 and chose six-foot-one defender Aaron Maund from Notre Dame. They did not have a second round pick.
Here is a pick-by-pick account of the first round:
|1. Montreal Impact||Andrew Wenger||Defender||Duke|
|2. Vancouver Whitecaps||Darren Mattocks||Forward||Akron|
|3. New England||Kelyn Rowe||Midfielder||UCLA|
|4. Toronto FC||Luis Silva||Midfielder||UC Santa Barbara|
|5. Chivas USA||Casey Townsend||Forward||Maryland|
|6. San Jose Earthquakes||Sam Garza||Forward||UC Santa Barbara|
|7. D.C. United||Nick DeLeon||Midfielder||Louisville|
|8. Portland Timbers||Andrew Jean-Baptiste||Defender||Connecticut|
|9. Chicago Fire||Austin Berry||Defender||Louisville|
|10. Columbus Crew||Ethan Finlay||Forward||Creighton|
|11. Dallas FC||Matt Hedges||Defender||North Carolina|
|12. Toronto FC||Aaron Maund||Defender||Notre Dame|
|13. Philadelphia Union||Chandler Hoffman||Forward||UCLA|
|14. Colorado Rapids||Tony Cascio||Forward||Connecticut|
|15. Seattle Sounders||Andrew Duran||Defender||Creighton|
|16. Sporting Kansas City||Dom Dwyer||Forward||South Florida|
|17. Real Salt Lake||Enzo Martinez||Midfielder||North Carolina|
|18. Houston Dynamo||Colin Rolfe||Forward||Louisville|
|19. Los Angeles Galaxy||Tommy Meyer||Defender||Indiana|