Toronto FC made a bold move to go against a lot of the draft boards by taking Kyle Bekker with the third overall selection. It was a bit of a surprise that the club would take the midfield playmaker despite comments from Payne suggesting that the club might not be interested in him.
Bekker is coming off a poor season with Boston College due in large part to injury and being used out wide on the wings but he bounced back strong at the MLS Combine. He stole the show during the three match days proving that he is again fit and can be a difference maker.
The praise for Bekker was wide spread and a lot of teams were interested in landing his services. Teams were impressed by his work rate in the combine and the fact that he could contribute on both sides of the ball. He is still a bit of a reach at number 3 overall, but if Toronto was serious about bringing him in they had to snatch him up before Montreal or Vancouver had the chance to steal him.
Fans should look for Bekker to bring a lot of pace to the midfield and a very high work rate which will be much needed in a very old side. Torsten Frings and Julio Cesar are certainly not young and even though they have lot of skill they can not cover all the ground in the middle of the park that is needed.
It will be interesting to see where Bekker ends up in the TFC lineup though. He spent time on the wing in Boston as well as playing at attacking midfield. He was used as more of a defensive midfielder when he joined Canada's U23 team for Olympic qualifying last March and excelled in that role so he certainly has a lot of versatility.
If Nelsen plans on penciling him into the starting lineup it probably will be in a slightly more withdrawn role than he played with Boston College as he cannot fill the same spot as Luis Silva. He would probably be best used as a link player between the defensive players and the attackers. He is capable of picking out his teammates all over the field but also can dribble out of danger when he needs to.
Bekker also brings with him the ability to hit an impressive dead ball. He showed that skill several times with Boston College and then reminded everyone at the combine that he can do it just about as well as anyone. It is a skill that has been lacking in TFC recently so if he can improve the dead ball skills of the team it would be a very nice bonus.
The knock on Bekker is that he lacks a bit of size and could be out-muscled in the middle of the park if he does not improve his strength. His technical skills are at the level that you want them though so if he learns to adjust to the playing style of MLS that knock should be easily put to rest.
In my scouting report of Bekker I described he as, "a creative midfielder with a bag full of tricks, an eye for goal, and the ability to create for his team-mates". I feel that is a description that still holds true of the player as he is a midfielder that has all the different tools that you are looking for in that position.
In Bekker's four years at Boston College he was a leader on the field and produced some impressive stats. He had a down year in 2012 with just one goal and four assists after a strong 2011 that saw him tally eight goals and seven assists. He graduated among the all time leaders in a lot of categories for the school with a total 17 goals and 22 assists.
He was also impressive with the Canadian National program garnering a lot of praise for his performances in Olympic Qualifying with the U23 team. He was asked to be a holding midfielder and a leader for that team and he excelled in both of those roles. His performances had a lot to do with the fact that Canada was within a single win of heading to the Olympics as he played a major role in the victory of the United States.
The fact that he held his own against that US team is a good sign when you consider that a lot of the midfielders who were on their roster are already playing regular minutes in MLS. They were for the most part the kind of player that he will be facing in the league and he acquitted himself quite well against them.
Bekker will certainly have a lot of work to do to prove that he was worth taking third overall ahead of several Generation Adidas players but the Sigma FC player has all the tools to live up to his draft position. The fact that he is also a Canadian from the Toronto area will probably just add more pressure to his shoulders but he seems to be the kind of young man who knows how to focus on playing his game and deal with the pressure.
If TFC did reach a bit to land him at number 3 it makes sense when you consider that other teams, including Vancouver at 5th and Montreal at 8th, had expressed interest in drafting the Canadian. He also has connections to the club already having trained with TFC in the past during his college offseasons.
TFC will not have long to wait to catch their first glimpse of Bekker in action as he will be included in the Canadian National team roster that is set to be announced tomorrow. If he gets on the field against Norway or the United States later this month it would be his first cap for Canada and wrap up a very exciting month for the player.