Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid had plenty of good things to say about the two players the club selected in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft on Thursday: Creighton defender Andrew Duran and Alabama Birmingham forward Babayele Sodade.
However, that doesn’t mean either will make the team, general manager Adrian Hanauer cautioned.
“It’s going to be a battle, and Duran and Sodade have to come in and work hard coming out of this draft,” Hanauer said in a conference call. “We have a very deep and strong team; and we hope that they prove to us that they belong on the roster, and then hopefully they’re going to earn minutes and have an impact on the team. But … we’re very, very comfortable that we’re going to have a very good team.”
When Duran was taken with the 15th overall pick, the ESPN2 team broadcasting the draft called his selection at that spot “a steal.”
As a senior, he was named to the College Soccer News All-America first team and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America second team. He was named Missouri Valley Conference defensive player of the year.
“He’s a player who’s very two-footed,” Schmid said. “… He’s a player that we like because he was very comfortable on the ball, he was very steady, and he was the main defender on the team that was the best defensive team in the country last year. He’s got to be doing something right.”
Duran had trained with the Sounders during the summer, and then impressed club executives again in a recent Florida scouting combine, where he scored a goal and had an assist while playing inside and outside back.
“I was overjoyed when I got picked by Seattle,” he said in a conference call just minutes after his selection. “I mean, Creighton obviously has a great fan base from the community and the support there is unbelievable. I feel like Seattle is just that on a much, much grander scale.”
With the 34th pick, the Sounders selected Sodade, who is 6-foot-3 and had the third-highest vertical leap at the Florida combine.
Schmid said the pick provides some insurance in case forward O’Brian White does not return quickly or fully from the leg injuries that cost him most of last season.
Sodade had 29 goals and 11 assists in his four-year career at UAB. His name is pronounced “Bah-bye-elle-EE Sho-dahd-DAY.”
“He’s a big presence up front. He’s got good pace,” Schmid said. “… We’ve got some forwards who can run and move, and we’ve got (Sammy) Ochoa, but Sodade’s different: He’s much bigger than that. He showed well at the combine. He’s had a good career at UAB. And he’s the kind of player who could be a surprise guy, kind of like (Sporting Kansas City’s) C.J. Sapong was this past year.”
Duran and Sodade join Seattle’s other offseason acquisitions, including goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, defenders Adam Johansson and Marc Burch, and midfielder Christian Sivebaek.
And more are apparently on the way. College and non-collegiate international players will be available again in the MLS supplemental draft Tuesday. Hanauer also said there are “other deals that are possibly pending or getting close.”
Preseason training begins Jan. 19. The club’s fourth MLS regular season begins March 17.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer
SOUNDERS FC DRAFT CHOICES
First round, 15th overall
Ht./Wt.: 6-1, 160
Born: Sept. 26, 1989
Hometown (citizenship): Mokena, Ill. (U.S.)
College: Creighton (2007-2011)
Second round, 34th overall
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 195
Born: July 26, 1990
Hometown (citizenship): Windsor, Ontario (Canada/U.S.)
College: Alabama Birmingham (2008-2011)