The Montreal Impact’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft is less than 24 hours away, and Jesse Marsch’s homework is pretty much done. The first-year head coach confirmed to MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday that he and his staff have decided which player they will select with the first overall pick of Thursday’s draft.
So who is it? Not surprisingly, Marsch didn’t reveal the name of the player, though most observers see the first two picks as a game of poker between the club and rivals Vancouver Whitecaps, with Akron striker Darren Mattocks and Duke’s versatile Andrew Wenger at stake.
Marsch told MLSsoccer.com that the Impact already had a pretty good understanding of who the upper echelon of players are, but did not play down the relevance of the MLS Combine.
“The combine is an important exercise which allowed us to compare the guys to each other on the field,” he told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Kansas City. “Off it, we interviewed around 25 to 30 players with an open mind to learn more about them as people.”
The Mattocks-Wenger debate could make one forget that Montreal also have the first pick of the second round (20th overall), which Marsch takes equally seriously.
“We ranked players from one to 40 overall as well as by position,” he added. “We will cross off names and adapt our strategy as the draft progresses so that we can select the best player available at that time. So a trade could happen, or maybe we will just wait and see if a player on our wish list is available.”
Marsch admitted that some of his current players did playfully nudge him in order to have a hand in that list of potential teammates, with Zarek Valentin showing himself to be a keen Andrew Wenger admirer.
“He definitely made his case about Wenger, whom he grew up with,” said Marsch, who took the opportunity to praise his young defender. “Zarek is a good kid who will bring a lot of excitement, enthusiasm and talent to our team.”
The Impact staff met with Wenger, and the Montreal boss described him as a “real guy,” which seems to be a quality upon which he insists.
“In this situation, you’re looking for young men who you think are real and have a chance to give everything they got, on a daily basis, in a tough environment,” Marsch explained, adding that Wenger will be successful “wherever he goes.”