Toronto FC "surprised" to see highly touted Brandon Aubrey fall to No. 21

TORONTO – Every year a player projected to go early in the MLS SuperDraft must wait patiently for his name to be called.

In 2017, that player was highly touted University of Notre Dame centerback Brandon Aubrey, who fell to 21st overall and Toronto FC, though that didn't seem to dampen his enthusiasm.

“I'm ecstatic,” beamed Aubrey on a conference call. “Toronto is a great club; a great place to be.”

According to general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, Aubrey was not only the best player available when Toronto FC first came on the clock, but also filled a defensive need.

“With his height, ability to score, his passing, he can compete for a position in MLS,” said Bezbatchenko via conference call. “Once you start to get out of top 10 picks, you start to think about players for [TFC II in] USL. But Brandon was somebody who we felt could play in MLS sooner rather than later; that's why we made the selection.”

Memorable though the day will be, Aubrey said he "expected to go higher" in floor interviews.

“I didn't have the greatest combine,” said Aubrey, who was unhappy with his performance. “I don't know what went wrong. I immediately watched the film, tried to diagnose [it], figure out how to make it better. It's something I can push past.”

A analytical guy who likes to solve puzzles, as his computer science studies evidence, Aubrey noted: “[The combine] matters. [But] it's more important how you perform over those four years in college.”

Hesitation on the part of the first 20 teams to pick was ultimately to Toronto's benefit.

“We were a little bit surprised,” said Bezbatchenko. “The way we look at it, [the combine is] just one or two games. We take it all, look at scouting throughout the entire year; previous years. He was one of the top centerbacks in the country.”

Though the club and player did not arrange a one-v-one meeting at the combine, Bezbatchneko said Aubrey was definitely on their radar and they had done their due diligence in other ways, while also admitting that they did not think he would be available when their turn to select finally came around.

Drafting a potentially MLS ready centerback was not the only surprise of the day, as TFC traded both their second-round picks to the Chicago Fire, collecting $75,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) in the process.

Bezbatchenko said it was a chance to create cap space, downplaying – though not entirely ruling out – the possibility of any impending moves. He also referenced the faith the club has in its USL and academy sides.

Aubrey gets his first chance to integrate himself in the Reds family when TFC preseason kicks off on Jan. 23.

“[Toronto is] an exciting challenge,” said the 21-year old defender. “There's a lot of talent there for me to learn from. As a young player, it's nice to have veterans around to teach you things. I have the ability to [break into the starting lineup]; if I can't, I'll enjoy learning.”

“I've never been to Canada, let alone Toronto," Aubrey added. "It's a great time in my life to see new places. Hopefully a place I can call home.”