ORLANDO, Fla. – MLS star rookies Andrew Wenger and Darren Mattocks may be inextricably linked because of the raging debate about which player was the top talent of the 2012 SuperDraft. But the last few days at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic has shown that there is very little else in common between the two.
Last Friday night, Vancouver’s Mattocks called himself the “best player in the draft without a doubt … it’s reality,” after scoring in an exhibition against the Impact.
Meanwhile, Wenger responded this way after a standout performance for the Impact in Sunday’s 1-1 tie against Sporting Kansas City.
“I thought I had a very poor first 30 minutes,” he told MLSsoccer.com on Sunday. “Playing right midfield, to be honest, I was lost at times. It was kind of awkward out there. But I got lucky that they moved me [to forward] and I was able to do a little better.
“It’s just a process for me. I did some nice things out there today but I gave the ball away too many times in midfield with some bad touches in bad areas. I should have scored the second goal on that other [chance in the second half]. It’s just moving forward.”
After struggling at right mid to start the match, Wenger traded spots with Argentine trialist Lucas Acosta, who formed a strike partnership with recently acquired Mike Fucito. But when it was Wenger’s turn to be paired with Fucito, there seemed to be an understanding between the two which helped result in a goal for Montreal.
Former Real Salt Lake midfielder Collen Warner threaded a ball to a charging Wenger, who outran a defender and laid a perfect ball for Fucito to slot home at the far post.
“It’s developing and strengthening,” Fucito said of the partnership. “He’s a good young player, a big athletic guy and the more we play together the stronger that connection will become.”
But there is already one solid connection between the two. He goes by the name of John Kerr Jr., who coached both players. Fucito played for him at Harvard and with a club team called Boston Bolts, while Wenger featured at Duke when Kerr switched schools.
Duke is where Wenger returned on Monday to resume his college studies through Thursday. It’s still unclear whether he will rejoin the team in Orlando for his club’s last friendly match before returning to Montreal.
Until his return, Impact fans excited at the glimpse they caught of Wenger at forward should know that manager Jesse Marsch saw the same thing.
“I saw a lot of good attacking qualities in him and when he’s been with us he’s shown that around the goal he’s gifted,” Marsch told MLSsoccer.com. “I look at him as an attacking player and primarily a forward.”