SuperDraft: With three first-round picks, Toronto FC taking 2015 edition "very seriously"

TORONTO – With just two weeks to go until the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, Toronto FC staff are gearing up for what could turn out to be an important day in Philadelphia on January 15.

Toronto FC heads into the 2015 SuperDraft with first-round picks at Nos. 6, 9 and 11 and two more picks later in the draft. TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko is looking to make them count.

“TFC has had a number of draft picks over the years and for a variety of reasons they were either traded away or lost through various mechanisms,” Bezbatchenko said in a video posted by the club on Monday.  “What we’d like to do, as one factor in our roster composition, is try to build from the draft.”

In the past, draftees like Sam Cronin (2009), Stefan Frei (2009) and Luis Silva (2012) were all traded away from Toronto, but for Bezbatchenko, that’s a trend he’s looking to buck moving forward.

“This year, we were able to select [players] who ended up being pivotal players on our team; leaders, willing learners, great attitudes and players with great potential,” Bezbatchenko said. “Add to that a player like Kyle Bekker [drafted in 2013] who brings similar attributes and has the potential to be a fantastic player in MLS and what you see is an opportunity.

“This year, now, we are fortunate to have a number of picks and so what we can do is hopefully find the next Nick Hagglund, the next Daniel Lovitz or Kyle Bekker through these picks to help improve this roster,” he added.

With the draft just a few weeks away, TFC head coach Greg Vanney and the rest of Toronto FC’s coaching staff is already hard at work. With a dedicated scouting department implemented for the first time at the club and “hundreds, if not thousands” of player reports already submitted, Vanney and the rest of the club brass is feeling confident about this year's crop of players. 

Vanney had a chance to get a first-hand look at some of those players during a recent combine held in Las Vegas that the club put together alongside another MLS team from the Western Conference. He was left impressed.

“We’ve identified the top crop of players who we think are really interesting,” Vanney said. “We’ve put them into positions and we’ve started to create sort of positional depth charts based on who we think is going to come out. I mean, we’ve been very, very thorough. Some guys did really well. For us, we’re taking this draft very seriously. It’s important for us to get the most out of our five draft picks to help build our team both for the future and maybe for some guys to contribute straight away.”

Toronto FC is kicking off a USL PRO franchise in 2015 as well, and will look to the draft to pick up some longer-term prospects as well.

“There’s a solid crop of players but there’s still always a jump from the college game to the professional game,” Vanney said. “Some adapt quicker than others. But having the USL team in addition to this first team, we really have an environment where we can progress players so they will be ready when they get that opportunity.”

Armen Bedakian covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.