Stronger play out back has been one of Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid’s ongoing goals, and the two picks the Sounders made in Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft -- as well as the signing of Homegrown Player DeAndre Yedlin last week -- seem to have just that in mind.
No. 10 overall pick Eriq Zavaleta and No. 35 selection Dylan Remick are both known for their ability to generate offense, even from defensive positions. Zavaleta, in fact, was a high-scoring forward at Indiana, who the Sounders think could eventually become Jeff Parke’s replacement at center back.
“He’s a smart player,” Schmid said of Zavaleta. “His positional play is very good. He has the intelligence that he can step on and play.
“The other thing is that Eriq played so much as a forward that his passing and his ability to play on the ball is very good if he ends up playing defense. He’s a guy who can hit good passes for a back, can find a guy and is good with the ball at his feet. That’s always good as well for a defender. I think we’re going to have some good moments for him.”
Zavaleta may have been a highly successful forward at Indiana -- his 18 goals in 2012 were third best in the nation -- but he’s taking the possible move to defense in stride.
“I think I’m not necessarily keying on position,” Zavaleta said. “I think that’s going to be solved as a need for the team. I’m ready to step in and hone that one specific position and answer all the questions of whether I’m a forward or whether I’m a center back. I really feel like the Seattle organization and Sigi have a position in mind for me and will teach me to really get better at that position.”
Zavaleta was similarly non-plussed watching his draft status fall. The consensus among mock drafts pegged Zavaleta as a Top 5 pick and there was some speculation early on that he was even a contender to go No. 1.
Falling to the Sounders and Schmid, who coached both Zavaleta’s father and uncle, was just fine with the 19-year-old.
“Wherever I went, I just wanted to go to a great organization,” Zavaleta said. “I couldn’t have gotten picked by a better one, and what really matters to me is where I went and this is a perfect place for me. You don’t make yourself on draft day, you make yourself on the field and I’m ready to go prove myself.”
Although Remick’s future is more clearly in the back, he too has shown some offensive capability. Playing mostly as a left back for Brown, Remick had two goals and a team-leading seven assists last season.
“He’s the type of player that likes to get forward,” Schmid said. “Brown’s not known as an offensive powerhouse so if you are an outside back and get seven assists you are probably doing pretty good for yourself.”