After pouring far more financial and scouting resources than they ever have into the MLS SuperDraft, the Colorado Rapids are counting on big returns from their three selections made on Thursday in Indianapolis.
And just hours after the draft had wrapped up, Rapids president Tim Hinchey was all smiles and voluntarily offered an eye-catching comparison for one of his two first-round picks, 11th overall selection Notre Dame midfielder Dillon Powers.
“I think we feel great about Dillon, because that’s a very young Jeff Larentowicz in our opinion," Hinchey told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Indianapolis on Thursday night, speaking of the former Rapids midfielder who was dealt to the Fire on Wednesday. “You know, box-to-box, very intelligent, smart player, passes well, likes to possess and, I think from the left back perspective, we have a very young left side, so I think it’s to get another defender that’s young and can get after it.”
Powers (above) went to the Rapids 11th overall, just five spots after Colorado surprised draft pundits by taking Jamaican striker DeShorn Brown with the sixth overall pick, even with highly touted Furman defender Walker Zimmerman surprisingly still on the board.
The Rapids entered Thursday’s draft looking to stockpile athletic and speedier players who they feel will better fit their possession and skill-based 4-3-3 outlook in 2013, and the club believes the speedy Brown, one of seven 2013 draftees signed to a Generation adidas contract, fits the bill for what they need.
“I think what we all agreed upon [Wednesday] night ... is [draft the] best player available,” Hinchey said of his discussions with head coach Oscar Pareja and technical director Paul Bravo. “And I think because we’re trying to build something for the long haul, again more depth, we have needs, and striker is certainly a need, but more importantly let’s get the best people we can to fit what we want to do for the long haul. And I think DeShorn in this case is 6-foot-2, [has] incredible pace, can finish and I think is a fantastic understudy for Edson [Buddle].
From a broader standpoint, Brown, Powers and 25th overall selection Kory Kindle are all part of the Rapids’ revamped focus on building through the draft and with younger players to develop long-term assets for the club while creating cost certainty as well.
As a result, for the first time in franchise history, the team sent each member of their first-team coaching staff to a collegiate conference championship in 2012. But while the Rapids have high hopes for each of their draft picks, it appears unlikely any of Colorado’s selections will see significant minutes in 2013 after the team made significant international acquisitions during the offseason.
“I think we tried to draft folks that can help us now and help us in the future,” Hinchey said. “We’ll just have to see how that shakes out, because at the same time, I think Paul and Oscar have done a fantastic job with our other acquisitions. We’re deep, we’re going to have competition at every position, and people who want to be here and that’s what we want.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.