VANCOUVER, B.C. – Realistically, a draft can't properly be evaluated until years after it's completed. But so far, Vancouver Whitecaps director of soccer operations Tommy Soehn likes what he sees from his class of 2011.
The club selected Omar Salgado, Michael Nanchoff, Jeb Brovsky and Bilal Duckett in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, before adding Michael Boxall, Joe Anderson and Santiago Bedoya in the Supplemental Draft.
From that group, Brovsky and Boxall stand out as being the most MLS-ready.
Brovsky showed his versatility throughout the season, playing as a central midfielder, wide midfielder and, eventually, settled into a right fullback position as the season came to its conclusion.
The Colorado native was 11th on the team in time played, participating in 1,509 minutes of action, and quietly went about whatever role was asked of him.
Boxall, selected first in the Supplemental Draft by the club, was a steady contributor in the heart of defense, playing much more than Soehn said the club had initially planned.
While the the interim coach has stated the New Zealand international suffered from fatigue at times as the season wore along, it's clear to see the hulking 23-year-old seems a savvy pickup, as he also cracked the team's top 10 in minutes played.
Ultimately, though, it's not about what the players have done so far — it's about what they can bring in the future.
“Guys develop at different stages,” Soehn told MLSsoccer.com by phone this week. “The Brovskys and the Boxalls did get a lot of time, but you're going to see a lot of guys you didn't see much of this season [next year]. Even with Nanchoff, he went through some injuries this year, but there's a lot of talent there. I think you're going to see him develop into a solid MLS player.”
Salgado, the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, hasn't made the immediate impact of some of his peers selected back in January, but Soehn says patience will pay dividends with the 18-year-old.
“With Omar Salgado I think we've got a gem there,” Soehn said. “You want to take your time to grow that talent.”
The El Paso, Texas, native is currently participating in a training camp with the US U-23 team in Germany as they prepare for qualifying for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
“[International experiences] are fantastic, especially for someone his age,” Soehn said. “Having gone through a full season now of training, probably the most demanding year he's ever been through in terms of a training environment, he's going to use his experiences from the year to now show what he's made of on the international front.
“These kinds of experiences for young guys are just so welcoming, they grow so much.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.