With only one selection in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft – the fifth overall pick – Chivas USA were going to need to make it count.
After dozens of interviews and hours of game observation, they got their man: Maryland forward Casey Townsend.
“He’s a player that we’ve been following closely for the past month,” general manager Jose Domene told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday by phone from Kansas City. “We scouted him and then at the combine what impressed me most was him as a person, he’s a guy that is fighter, who always wants to win and that is the type of mentality and culture that we want to have at Chivas USA.”
Not that the former Terrapin standout didn’t impress on the field. Townsend impressed Chivas not only with his ability to get into dangerous positions, but also with his prowess in the air and high work rate.
Eager to prove his worth at the next level, Townsend shined during last weekend’s MLS Combine scoring two goals en route to being named the Tom Fitzgerald 2012 Combine MVP.
Over the course of his career at Maryland, the 22-year-old scored 43 goals, the third-most in school history, as a four-year starter. Seventeen of those came during a stellar senior campaign, as Townsend captained the Terrapins to a third-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament. For a team eager to create a winning culture, Townsend’s selection seemed obvious once he fell to Chivas.
“The kid is a winner,” Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser told MLSsoccer.com in a phone conversation on Thursday morning. “He’s a battler, and he’s a finisher with a good nose for the goal. He’s going to be a good piece for us, and I can’t say how impressed I am with how competitive he is. … He’s a kid that does all the dirty work that he needs to do to help his team. He’s a consummate team player and a very good finisher.”
Townsend brings an elite pedigree to a Chivas team sorely in need of depth at forward with Juan Pablo Ángel still unsigned and Justin Braun now with the Montreal Impact. Fraser won’t be putting too much pressure on his young striker, though. At least, not right away that is.
“He’s a young player, so we don’t want to throw expectations on him immediately,” Fraser said. “But he’s a player that will help us and we expect him to fit in and contribute.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.