PHILADELPHIA – D.C. United’s successful 2014 campaign landed them on the bottom end of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft order, but that didn’t keep them from crossing off a couple more items from their offseason shopping list.
D.C. used the 17th pick in the draft to select University of San Fransisco forward Miguel Aguilar (above) and followed that up by selecting University of Maryland midfielder Dan Metzger with the 42nd. Shortly after the draft’s conclusion, United head coach Ben Olsen and general manager Dave Kasper expressed excitement with their take, an emotion Olsen had already shared with at least one of his picks.
“We had you going in the top ten!” Olsen exclaimed, putting his arm around Metzger as he left the stage shortly after he was selected.
"We were looking to add depth in midfield and we had a bunch of cover spots we were looking to fill, center midfield, wide midfield, and we checked two boxes today,” Kasper told MLSsoccer.com afterwards. "When we did our mock draft and picked the guys that we wanted, Metzger and Aguilar were two guys that we wanted. So, we’re happy given where we picked in this draft.”
Metzger – a New York Red Bulls academy product who actually shed his Homegrown player tag in favor of chancing it league-wide – fell a bit further than many had anticipated, perhaps weighed down by a combine cut short by injury. As far as the UMD grad is concerned, it’s more fuel for the fire.
"This gives me a little motivation – if not a lot of motivation – going into preseason just to prove everybody wrong," Metzger said. "Obviously I didn't expect to go that late, but to be honest I'm kind of happy. It gives me that motivation, that edge."
Aguilar was a forward in college, but on Thursday both Olsen and Kasper made it clear that they see him more of a two-way wide midfielder at the pro level. Kasper cracked a wry smile while drawing comparisons between Aguilar and two notable United wide men: Olsen and Andy Najar. Olsen drew comparisons to one of United’s current wingers, Nick DeLeon.
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"I think [Aguilar is] capable of going north and south, coming back, doing the dirty work, coming inside. Offensively he can produce some magic. I wouldn’t want to put him in Nick DeLeon’s shoes right now, I wouldn’t want to throw that comparison out but he’s got a little something to him like Nick did when we first saw him in college.”
"He’s got a real change of pace,” added Kasper. “In the athletic testing he was near the top of every category. He’s a humble, very confident, really hungry kid. He’s got some really interesting tools."
The pair of picks join a flurry of other additions for United – Finnish midfielder Markus Halsti and former Columbus Crew forward Jairo Arrieta among them – as the team heads into training camp. With CONCACAF Champions League play starting in late February, Metzger and Aguilar have their work cut out for them: impress their new coaches to earn one of the few spots remaining on United’s permanent roster.