Widely seen as a player who will help his team right away, No. 1 SuperDraft pick Andrew Wenger is ready to play wherever his coach sees fit. But according to Montreal Impact sporting director Nick De Santis, the staff will be cautious with the Duke star’s development.
“We do not think he will be a starter right away,” De Santis told reporters in a conference call shortly after Thursday’s SuperDraft, “but we do know his athleticism is a notch above everyone else’s. We feel we will be able to mold Andrew slowly, and he will give us some important minutes. It will be up to the technical staff to determine where on the pitch he will give us those minutes in his rookie year.”
De Santis nevertheless lavished praise on the Impact’s first pick, making clear he'd been the best at every level of play.
“Everyone we spoke to told us Andrew's playing is always about the team, not his own self,” he said. “He's a positive young man who gets along with his teammates, and mentally, he knows he still has a lot to learn, a lot to work for. Our decision was easy: Players with character, a will to succeed and a great vision are among our plans. Andrew is one of these [types].”
The past few days have been some of the most eventful in Wenger's 21 years. Having just won the Hermann Trophy as the national player of the year, he will now go down in history as a first overall MLS SuperDraft pick. And while he missed the MLS Combine, the new Impact player said he wasn’t aware in advance that he would be drafted by Jesse Marsch’s team.
“I learned about it probably two minutes before the Commissioner called my name,” Wenger told MLSsoccer.com.
The club also selected midfielder Calum Mallace with the 20th pick on Thursday. Montreal’s staff says they are thrilled to land the Marquette alum.
“We were very surprised Calum was still available as we had him among the best 11 prospects, De Santis admitted. “The past week confirmed what we’d seen over the past few months. His talent, his size and his absolute passion for the game will be great for us.”
On other fronts, the Impact technical director confirmed there were discussions with other teams regarding the first overall pick, but no serious negotiations. De Santis did acknowledge, however, that there could still be development on the DP situation, “as long as it fits, soccer- and marketing-wise.”
WATCH: Andrew Wenger talks with MLSsoccer.com