MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact announced the list of 10 players picked from the 2011 Expansion Draft on Wednesday, which included Houston Dynamo captain and MLS veteran Brian Ching as well as Philadelphia Union midfielder Justin Mapp and young Chivas USA defender Zarek Valentin.
Head coach Jesse Marsch didn’t waste any time in announcing the Ching pick, tabbing him with the first selection in the draft.
“We value Brian,” confirmed Marsch after the announcement. “He’s a great goal scorer and has great experience, including in the World Cup. There’s certainly a lot of respect for him.”
Marsch was very much aware of Ching’s desire to stay in Houston.
“He’s made it clear that he doesn’t want to be here,” Marsch told MLSsoccer.com. “I want to include what’s best for Brian in his future, but I also have to consider what’s best for our club. We looked at this list, and we tried to get the best out of it.”
The Impact’s coach went on to explain that situations like these should require a certain level of professionalism from both parties.
“If you want to be a professional player, you have to keep an open mind to moving around,” said Marsch. “If he doesn’t want to come, then we’ll find another player that fits our team.”
The former Chivas USA midfielder was also keen on explaining his decision to select Mapp ahead of Freddy Adu, who the Union had left exposed. Marsch had been very interested in getting the 22-year-old attacker, but opted instead to take the 27-year-old midfielder.
“I never decided that I had picked Freddy,” confirmed Montreal’s gaffer. “I was just evaluating to see how it would fit. Everything comes into play about who the players are, what positions they play, how old they are and in the end, we just think that Justin was a better fit than Freddy.”
The ex-US national team assistant coach stressed that he had a good relationship with Adu, but was deterred by the large cap hit his club would take on if they'd pulled the trigger on the pick.
“The stark reality is that he is a big number for our league,” admitted Marsch. “We are not afraid of [Designated Players], but we’re still thinking about who the right ones are for our team. We just felt like it wasn’t Freddy.”
One of the players virtually guaranteed to be selected was Valentin. Marsch stated that the promising US U-20 national team player had interested him right from the get-go.
“Zarek was the fourth pick in the draft last year,” Marsch said. “As soon as we saw his name on the list, we wrote it right away on the board and knew that he was someone we’d like. The other thing about him is that there are a lot of teams interested in him, so we had to think about what his value was. In the end, we decided that he was a good young kid that we’d want to keep.”
And Valentin wasn’t the only one picked up from Chivas USA. Marsch and his staff plucked right back James Riley from the Seattle Sounders before trading him to the Goats in return for forward Justin Braun and midfielder Gerson Mayen.
“We were thinking about Riley because we knew that he is a guy that you can count on,” Marsch said. “However with Valentin in, we thought we already had a good player at right back, and the opportunity to get Justin Braun and Gerson Mayen would bolster some of our attacking options. It was a better idea at this moment for our team.”
These new additions, along with Bobby Burling (San Jose), Jeb Brovsky (Vancouver), Collen Warner (Salt Lake), Josh Gardner (Columbus), Sanna Nyassi (Colorado) and Seth Sinovic (Sporting Kansas City), mean that the club will be making decisions on the future of many of their players from the 2011 roster very soon.
“We have more decisions to make, more players on the radar, including some from last year,” admitted Marsch. “I’m glad that we waited a little bit because it was important for us to get through the draft process and understand how to move forward.”