When MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced DeShorn Brown as the sixth overall pick in Thursday’s SuperDraft, many draft pundits and experts were surprised by the pick, particularly with highly rated midfielder/defender Walker Zimmerman unexpectedly still on the board.
But maybe nobody was as taken aback with the selection as Brown himself.
The Central Florida striker was selected with Colorado’s top pick, and while he realized the Rapids were interested in him, he thought he might go to the Rapids later on in the draft.
“I thought another team would draft me before Colorado [at 11],” Brown told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday. “When I heard the name called, it was a great feeling.”
Regardless of his draft positioning, Brown could have the opportunity for minutes right away in year one. Last year, rookie forward Tony Cascio, the 14th overall pick in the 2012 SuperDraft, received 18 starts and nearly 1,700 minutes in his inaugural season at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
This year, the 6-foot-2 Jamaican will compete with Andre Akpan for the role of central striker Edson Buddle’s primary understudy in 2013. And with Buddle currently training with the national team, there could be plenty of minutes to be had for Brown if Buddle is called up for the USA's busy World Cup qualifying schedule this year.
“I’m going to push myself in training so the coaches can see what I can do,” Brown said of competing for playing time as a rookie. “Once [the coaches] see can see what I can do, I’m sure they’ll put me in.”
In addition, if Brown can’t win minutes at center striker, there could be opportunities for the Generation adidas signee to play in one of the Rapids’ wing positions as a rookie, as well. Brown said that he can also play as a wing striker, and that’s a role Colorado may also have eyed for him.
“I think the difference is, because of his size and his skill and his technical ability, he can play center striker while [former Rapids striker] Omar [Cummings] could not,” Rapids president Tim Hinchey told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday night. “So the nice part is he could play out wide if he needed to in our formation, or we could put him in the middle. And again, Edson, if he has success, could get called up to a couple other USA matches so to have someone early in a position to develop him is fantastic for us I think.”
Until he arrived in Denver late on Friday night, Brown had never set foot in Colorado. So in addition to the typical challenges of a rookie, the athletic, pacy striker – who tallied an impressive 13 goals in 16 games during his lone season at UCF after two years at the University of Mobile – will also have to adapt to suburban Denver’s mile-high altitude.
“Surely I’m going to have to be getting used to it,” Brown said. “Coming from a different state and a different environment, everything is strange. I’m just going to have to adjust to it as time goes on.”
The Rapids hope he will fit their need for athletic, skilled attackers, and Brown believes he’s a fit for Colorado’s possession-based style of play – even if he wasn’t expecting to be selected as high up as he was.
“I love the [Rapids’] style of soccer, keeping the ball moving on the ground,” Brown said. “It’s the best way to play.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.