On Thursday, the Seattle Sounders took defender Andrew Duran and striker Babayale Sodade with the 15th and 34th picks in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. Now the hard part begins for Seattle’s newest players.
Both Duran and Sodade face an uphill battle. With the Sounders roster nearly complete for the upcoming 2012 season, both players will need to prove themselves in training camp to earn a roster spot.
General manager Adrian Hanauer said he’s looking forward to seeing the young players prove themselves.
“It’s going to be a battle, and Duran and Sodade have to come in and work hard coming out of this draft,” Hanauer said in a teleconference call after the draft on Thursday afternoon. “We have a very deep and strong team and we hope that they prove to us that they belong on the roster. … Hopefully they’re going to earn minutes and have an impact on the team.”
Hanauer went on to hint that the Sounders are pretty close to wrapping up a couple more deals in the near future, which could put the roster at 29 signed players. That wouldn’t leave much room for Duran, a defender out of Creighton University, or Sodade, a big-bodied forward.
But Seattle have a good track record of retaining and developing draft picks in their three years in MLS. Should either Sodade or Duran catch on, their careers might similarly benefit from the nurturing environment of Seattle’s locker room.
The Sounders feel like they got value in picking the 22-year-old Duran, who came back from illness and two major knee injuries to anchor Creighton University’s back line his senior season. Duran can play all along the back line, but it appears he’s most comfortable on the left or in the middle.
“He’s a player that we like because he was very comfortable on the ball, he was very steady, and he was the main defender on the team that was the best defensive team in the country last year,” Schmid said. “He’s got to be doing something right.”
Sodade, meanwhile, is viewed as a possible plug-in for O’Brian White, whose health status is still in doubt after blood clots cut short his 2011 season. The 21-year-old Sodade stands 6-foot-3 and had the third-highest vertical leap at the MLS Combine.
“He’s the kind of player who could be a surprise guy, kind of like [Sporting Kansas City’s] C.J. Sapong was this past year,” Schmid said.