A day ago Toronto FC was holding the first and third selections but were lacking in space in their budget to improve the team in all the areas the need help. So what do they do? Well, they make a trio of deals to bring in allocation money from the New England Revolution, the Vancouver Whitecaps, and the Seattle Sounders and then land a pair of prospects with the 3rd and 16th selections.
Having taken Kyle Bekker 3rd overall to boost the midfield TFC went with another Canadian this time boosting the attacking options. With the 16th pick of the 2013 draft Toronto FC went with Emery Welshman out of Oregon State. He is another player who is coming off a strong combine that turned a lot of heads.
He is capable of playing right back, which he did at the combine, but who really should wind up being used as a forward which is a position where TFC needed to do something to improve the depth and inject some pace. They got just that in Welshman who is the sort of forward who loves to set up his teammates and take defenders on with his dribble.
Toronto has big forwards in Eric Hassli (wants out), Danny Koevermans (old and injured) and Justin Braun (meh) but they lack any real pace in the attack which means this addition makes good sense. Throw Welshman into the bunch and he can be more of a spark plug and put the miles in that are needed to help create for those other forwards. If TFC is going to go with more of a 4-4-2 next season they needed someone other than Luis Silva to bring that pace into the final third.
Welshman can probably play out wide if he needed to thanks to his dribbling and pace but at Oregon he spent almost his entire time inside playing as a forward. His best role is probably as a secondary striker which is where he fits best for TFC. Creating space for his strike partner, running at defenders, and picking out passes.
The knock on Welshman is that his finishing needs to be improved. He scored plenty of goals first for Siena College and then for Oregon State but he wasted more than his share of chances along the way to doing that. It is not a red flag about his game but more an area that will need to be worked on before he can become a regular contributor at the MLS level.
He started his college career at Siena College where he scored 19 goals and added 6 assists over two seasons. He was also named MAAC Freshman of the Year in 2009 and then Offensive Player of the Year in 2010 thanks to those offensive outputs.
With that success at Siena Welshman moved up in the college ranks by transferring to Oregon State and joining one of the best programs on the west coast. He scored 3 goals and added 7 assists in his junior season and was rewarded with All Pac-12 First Team honours. He repeated that feat in 2012, the first Beaver since Robbie Findley to do so, thanks to scoring 10 goals and adding four assists.
His four year stats are in the kind of range that you like to see for a forward that is coming into the draft. His total of 32 goals and 16 assists are an impressive total and enough to catch the eyes of scouts around the league. He certainly helped his stock at the combine about as much as anyone can but his rise to being a first round pick was a journey that he started on long ago.
Most folks had Welshman being a late first round pick or even a second round pick so Toronto taking him 16th overall is not really what you call a reach. He was probably the best forward left on the board at this point in time with Jason Johnson and Eriq Zavaleta going in the previous picks. Toronto knew that they needed to add a forward and they were able to do that while pocketing what is likely to be a fairly big chunk of allocation.
TFC end up selecting a pair of local talents that are familiar with each other having spent time training at Toronto area academy Sigma FC before heading off to play in college. It adds more Canadian content to the team but also adds talent and depth in two positions where the club was very much in need of help.
The fact that Toronto ended up selecting a pair of Canadian players that are from the local area will likely bring up the question of how the academy is missing out on so much top talent. Both Bekker and Welshman were developed by Sigma FC and it is private academies like them that continue to produce the top talent in Ontario, not TFC.