PORTLAND, Ore. – With the MLS SuperDraft now just days away (Thursday, 12 p.m. ET; ESPN2/MLSsoccer.com), the blogosphere surrounding the Portland Timbers seems to have found consensus over who the team should pick with the No. 2 pick.
It’s Perry Kitchen, an 18-year-old freshman who has been at the University of Akron for less than six months. Kitchen made an impression, however, helping lead the talent-laden Zips to their first NCAA championship last fall.
Many experts have slotted Kitchen, a midfielder, as a top-five pick on Thursday.
Here is a sampling of what three prominent Timbers-centric bloggers are posting:
Paul Sepp, from DroppingTimber.com, writes:
“Kitchen may be more of a defensive oriented midfielder and the Timbers would like to add some scoring, but from I’m hearing he’s simply too talented to pass up on. Besides, Kitchen is solid on both sides of the ball and can really create offense just as well as he can stop it.”
DroppingTimber goes on to call Kitchen “so young, but so talented.”
Like DroppingTimber, Kelly McClain of TimbersInsider.com presumes that Kitchen’s teammate, Darlington Nagbe, is the likely No. 1 pick and will go to Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
McClain writes: "The top two prospects are Akron F Darlington Nagbe and Akron MF/D Perry Kitchen. I’ll keep this boring and just say that Portland should take whomever Vancouver doesn’t.
“It’s unlikely, but if both players are available, I’d go with Nagbe. Currently, the Timbers have only signed two forwards, both of whom are coming from the USSF-D2 ranks. Nagbe is fast and skillful and would immediately be considered the front runner for a starting job.”
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McClain believes the Timbers may take Kitchen simply for his trade value.
[inline_node:321748]“If Vancouver takes Nagbe, it creates an apparent repeat of the Dax McCarty episode. McCarty, a holding center mid like Kitchen, was the consensus number one pick for the expansion draft. So naturally Portland took him – and then traded him away! And he was a proven MLS quantity having just played in the MLS Cup final.
"So what did (GM Gavin) Wilkinson and (coach John) Spencer have planned? Taking Kitchen all along? Seems like a big gamble when McCarty was a sure thing. I suppose they could pass on Kitchen and take F Omar Salgado, who trained with the Timbers this fall, but that would mean passing up what everyone sees as pretty unique and special talent.
“So far, the Portland front office has kept everyone on their toes with many unexpected moves (See: Robbie Findley, Jonathan Bornstein, Cronin, McCarty). This time, I just hope they keep it boring.”
Geoff Gibson of Stumptownfooty.com, likewise, says Kitchen is the Timbers’ best choice:
“My primary reason for selecting Kitchen is due to the simple fact that he is the best overall player in the draft. While I’d have normally chosen Nagbe because I feel we desperately need another forward, Vancouver got to him first.
"Weighing the possibilities of Kitchen or (Omar) Salgado, it just made more sense in both the immediacy of the 2011 league and in the long term to choose Kitchen, even if we are to use him (in) a trade.”
Gibson sees a potential logjam developing in the midfield if the Timbers select Kitchen, noting that Nagbe would fill a more pressing need up front.
Salgado, 17, is an enticing forward who may also be selected in the top five. But Gibson thinks he’s too young to help the Timbers immediately.
“As an expansion side, the Timbers need to be able to hit the ground running and I’d prefer to spend valuable draft picks on players like Kitchen and Nagbe, or even (Corey) Hertzog and (Anthony) Ampaipitakwong, who can make an impact on the team right away, even if it's just as a sub,” Gibson writes.