Yesterday was a tricky day to really gauge for Toronto FC fans. Many were happy to see the team get a bunch of allocation money and a pair of talented Canadians but others were conflicted and worried that the club traded the chance to get talented players at the top of the draft and went with lesser Canadians and some funny money instead.
The best thing to do is try and find some unbiased insights from people who don't have the conflicted emotions that come from being TFC fans. To do so we will take a look at some of the draft grades that different sites have been giving Toronto FC's efforts in picking up Kyle Bekker and Emery Welshman yesterday.
Starting in our own back yard with SB Nation's Daniel Robertson who posted his grades over on the .com side of things:
Toronto FC - B+
From a PR standpoint, TFC's draft is a grand slam. With the two best Canadian players from the draft now on their books, they've certainly pleased the home fans. However, beware the player who has his stock raised by a great combine and, of course, the NCAA attacking midfielder. Emery Welshman is a decent forward who should become a fan favorite at BMO, but the question is did the Reds get a truly impact player in this draft? TFC still gets high marks simply because they grabbed so much allocation money. Rumors are that they could be making a run for Kenny Cooper.
That grade has TFC tied for the third highest score on his board which is certainly an impressive performance. There is also the suggestion of that Kenny Cooper rumour which might just push the draft grade over the top if the club cashed in on its allocation to bring him in as a possible upgrade on the want away Eric Hassli.
Over on WVHooligan, Drew Epperly, is again kind to Toronto FC with his grades:
Drafted: #3 Kyle Bekker, M, Boston College, #16 Emery Welshman, F, Oregon State
Thoughts: They went Canadian and it works for me. They made lots of trades and got plenty of allocation money because of it. You can’t blame them for using the cards that they had in front of them to wheel and deal like that. Bekker will do well in their midfield and Welshman will also see plenty of time on the field in year one. It was a wild ride but at the end of it all, Toronto left Indy with a pretty good feeling knowing that they had some cap relief in front of them and two solid young Canadian players.
His grade of a B has TFC back with the main pack despite very few teams scoring a higher mark and only Colorado scoring in the A's. Seems that the lack of getting a player that had a big name heading into the draft might have hurt the score but it is still a solid evaluation suggesting the club did do well.
Moving on to the folks at Top Drawer Soccer who generally know what they are talking about when it comes to NCAA prospects as they make their living covering the collegiate game:
Toronto FC – B+
Toronto FC, sans head coach Ryan Nelson, was wheeling and dealing on Thursday, as the Canadian club dealt out of the No. 1 pick to start the day, ending up at No. 3 and No. 16. When the dust settled, the Reds ended up with two Canadian talents in Bekker and Welshman. Bekker is a center midfielder who is comparable to current TFC mid Luis Silva.
That grade is the second highest mark on their board behind only Sporting Kansas City who landed a player they rate very highly in Mikey Lopez. Comparing Bekker to Silva will certainly excite a lot of TFC fans who loved what they saw from TFC's top draft pick last season.
This one does not include a grade but here is what the Gaurdian had to say up the picks and moves that TFC made including comments from some Duncan Fletcher guy:
Toronto FC certainly made the most of their moment in the sun with new club president and league veteran Kevin Payne making a series of eye-catching trades that verged on showboating. When the dust had settled, Toronto had picked up an undisclosed amount of allocation money, plus one of the more mature presences at the Combine in Kyle Bekker and what looks a very decent young forward in Emery Welshman. The fact that both are Canadian doesn't hurt, as Payne tries to win round locals still suspicious about his appointment of Skype coach Ryan Nelsen.
Bekker looks like a soccer player. He plays with his head up and distributes the ball well, and despite looking a little anonymous in an injury hit college season, he showed up when it counted to dominate the Combine with set pieces, goals and great off-the-ball running, to be a deserved MVP. If he appears laid back there's a little steeliness there too, which he'll need if he's to do his share of defensive work in the center of a 4-4-2 - the big question mark against him.
Duncan Fletcher, Waking the Red, Toronto:
Well, Kevin Payne certainly doesn't like to play safe does he? Could have picked Andrew Farrell and Kyle Bekker and not have heard a word of complaint, instead he trades the 1 down to 4, then down to 10, then down to 16, and ends up with Emery Welshman after picking Bekker at 3. The fact we'll never know how much the allocation received is makes it difficult to evaluate really, but I'll give it a tentative thumbs up. Two good young Canadians from the local area and a big pile of pretend cash. Productive if risky. I'd have been happier if he'd stuck at 10 and picked Eriq Zavaleta, but oh well. Payne might be crazy like a fox, or maybe just plain crazy, it's still too soon to tell.
Seems a fairly good review of the effort with more praise for Bekker being offered. That Duncan guy is a bit more hesitant in offering but he is a conflicted TFC fan so that is understandable.
MLSSoccer is another site that does not offer a letter grade to their review but Matthew Doyle did end up putting TFC in his top tier:
Toronto FC – So, let’s see here … their big rivals said they wanted to get "more Canadian," yet it was TFC who got the two best Canucks in the draft. Both of whom are from greater Toronto, and both of whom fit needs. Emery Welshman at No. 16 was straight thievery.
In the process they traded down (twice), doubling their allocation money along the way. Say what you want about Kevin Payne, but the man knows how the game is played.
He offers praise TFC for not just getting talented Canadians but for filling needs in the draft which is one of the key reasons why the selections are being looked at as good moves for more than just Can-con reasons.
It seems like the internet is in consensus on this one with their early reactions to what TFC did at the draft yesterday. I did not find a single site suggesting that TFC had done a bad job yesterday and almost everyone put them right near the top of their grades or was willing to give some praise to the draft. The added allocation is a recurring theme in all of the grades but it is always in tandem with praise for the players the club added All-in-all, it seems like at least for now we can look back on the 2013 MLS SuperDraft as a good day of work for Payne and Co. Only time will tell if that remains the case but at least it was not like 2009 where people were left scratching their heads right away.