True to form, the 2011 MLS SuperDraft has been a wild and exciting day. The Portland Timbers used the second overall pick in the first round to pick up 2010 Hermann Trophy winner striker/midfielder Darlington Nagbe. Following the Vancouver Whitecaps FC selection of forward Omar Salgado with the first overall pick, Portland snatched up the dynamic Nagbe who is fresh from the 2010 NCAA national championship team University of Akron.
Said Spencer, “We’ve now picked up in our eyes probably the best young player in the country in Darlington Nagbe.”
Nagbe was the first of a record five players in the first round taken from the University of Akron and comes to the team after a stellar career at the school. Scoring a total of 19 goals and 19 assists over 73 games, he was also a NSCAA Second Team All-American.
Given the long list of strong players in this draft—let alone the great list of players from the University of Akron—Spencer was clear as to why Nagbe was at the top of the Timbers list,
“I just think that he’s a game winner. He’s a game changer. I don’t think it was only us here in this room today who would have loved to have put their scarf around him or put his name on the back of their jersey," said Spencer.
"He’s a kid that can change the face of the game. He can score goals. He can assist on goals. He’s just a super, super young footballer. We’re really happy to have him.”
Not one to sit idle, Technical Director and General Manager Gavin Wilkinson followed up their first pick with a couple of trades. First trading with archrival Seattle, the Timbers acquired the Sounders' 1st round pick (11th overall) and an international roster spot for one year in exchange for one of Portland's two 2nd round picks in the 2011 SuperDraft (20th overall) and allocation money. The Timbers then traded that 11th overall selection to the Houston Dynamo for allocation money.
Said Spencer, “The trade came on the table that we could keep a foreign spot and get some allocation which always helps further down the line.”
With their eyes then turned to the second round, the Timbers picked up defender Chris Taylor from the University of Tulsa. Taylor, a four-year starter at Tulsa, was a 2010 Third Team All-Conference USA member while racking up 8 goals and 17 assists over the course of 82 games in his college career.
“[Taylor] kind of flew under the radar for us,” said Spencer.
“We didn’t know much about him until we saw him at the Combine and he had a very good Combine. Good athleticism. Looking to get forward. Not letting any of the strikers go on overlapping runs. He looked to have a good engine.”
With no picks in the third round, the Timbers must now wait for the MLS Supplemental Draft which occurs next week. Stay tuned to www.portlandtimbers.com for ongoing coverage.