PHILADELPHIA – The last time the Vancouver Whitecaps held a top-three pick in the MLS SuperDraft, they took a risk on a playmaking teenager with potential.
When they were faced with a prized pick again this time around, they went a different route.
The Whitecaps used the third overall pick on California defender Christian Dean on Thursday,giving the team a towering left-footed center back considered by some as the top prospect in this year’s class.
The 20-year-old Dean was an All Pac-12 selection last season with the Golden Bears and is a Generation adidas player, meaning that his salary will not count against the cap for the Union until he graduates from the program. He teamed with fellow defender Steve Birnbaum to lead Cal an appearance in the Elite 8.
Birnbaum was taken second overall on Thursday by D.C. United, marking the second time in recent history that two players from the same school were taken in the top three. Akron teammates Darlington Nagbe and Perry Kitchen were taken second and third overall, respectively, in 2011, but only after Vancouver opted for teenage forward Omar Salgado with the top pick.
The 6-foot-4 Dean joins a Whitecaps defense that allowed 45 goals last season, third most in the Western Conference. Veteran Lee Young-Pyo retired after the season and former US national team regular Jay DeMerit is still out of contract, while Irishman Andy O’Brien and Trinidad international Carlyle Mitchell and Honduran Johnny Leverón will be back when training camp opens later this month.